Israeli Troupe Toast to Bollywood – Jews of Indian Origin Perform in Shillong to Foster Better Ties

Shillong, Dec. 16: From Israel with love, Bollywood-ishtyle.

Meghalaya’s capital was host to a musical performance of a different kind when a 25-member Israeli troupe performed here late last night to mark the 60th year of Independence of both India and Israel.

Titled “Namaste Israel”, the show was a blend of folk music and modern dance forms of both Israel and India, hosted at the State Central Library. But it was the Bollywood song and dance numbers which was a big draw for the packed crowd.

The motto of the performance was to spread amity. “There is no other means than music and dance which can foster ties between both countries,” a troupe member said.

The troupe really brought the house down with an energetic performance to the vintage Bollywood number from Teesri Manzil — Aaja, aaja, main hoon pyar tera….” It also sang patriotic songs of both countries.

Before the show, the Israelis had an interaction with local cultural troupes at Jeebon Roy Memorial Welfare Institute. Khasi, Jaintia and Garo dance forms were presented.

“It was a different experience for all of us from Israel to come to this part of the country and understand the culture,” manager of the troupe, David Nigrekar, said.

The name “Namaste Israel” was coined to highlight India-Israel affinity, David added. The troupe comprises mostly Jews of Indian origin.

David’s parents are Jews from Mumbai who moved to Israel 45 years ago.

“This is also an occasion for us to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Independence of both the countries and also the 15 years of Indo-Israel diplomatic relations,” said Sharon, a member of the group.

The artistes of the troupe are very familiar with Hindi songs and dances.

“I know how to sing Hindi songs including Mehbooba Mehbooba and Satyam Shivam Sundaram as we used to watch a lot of Hindi films,” said Valery Perez, singer of the group.

Valery, who usually sings Hebrew songs during the show, said she has been associated with the troupe for the past 20 years.

The troupe performed in Delhi on December 13 and will wind up the tour with a performance in Mumbai on December 18.

Supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the troupe presented a variety of shows, depicting the culture of Israel, the contribution of the Indian community to Israeli culture and the strong ties between the two countries.

“Namaste Israel”, founded by David Nigerkar, is aiming to enrich Israeli culture with the diversity of Indian music, song and dance. The troupe is quite popular among the Indian community in Israel.

The folk dance performed by the group reveals the diversity of the people of Israel and their cultural roots and heritage. The dance combines elements from the Arabic Debke, Hasidic dance (a form of dance in Israel), Yemenite steps, Polish Polka dance and others.

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