February 20, 2019

70th Republic Day of India at Nieuwe Kerk

The Ambassador of India, His Excellency Mr. Venu Rajamony and the mayor of Utrecht, Mr. Jan van Zanen

By Anton Lutter.

The exhibition Buddha’s Life, Path to the Present provided the backdrop of the 70th Republic Day of India reception at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. Objects from the third century until 2018 could be enjoyed by a fully packed church – including the guests of honor, the Kings Commissioner of Drenthe Mrs. Jetta Klijnsma and the Mayor of Utrecht Mr. Jan van Zanen – all guests of H.E. Mr. Venu Rajamony, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

H.E. Mr. Venu Rajamony, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the guests of honor, the Kings Commissioner of Drenthe Mrs. Jetta Klijnsma, Dr. Saroj Thapa, ambassador spouse and Mr. Ard van Rijn, spouse of the Kings Commisioner

In his speech the ambassador mentioned the strong relations between his country and The Netherlands: “2018 has been an action-packed year. Since last January, Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited India accompanied by four senior Ministers, the Mayor of The Hague and the largest ever trade delegation comprising around 130 companies.

Prime Minister Rutte’s visit was quickly followed by a visit to India by Queen Máxima in her capacity as UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. Two senior Ministers from India, the Minister for Food Processing and the Minister for Traditional Indian Medicine and Yoga visited the Netherlands. Mr. Menno Snel, State Secretary for Finance just returned to the Netherlands from a visit to India”.

The 70th Republic Day of India reception at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

The Mayor of Utrecht – who had visited India before – noted that “This friendship started almost 400 years ago. On the west coast of India, Dutch merchants closed an important pepper trade deal with an Indian ruler. And shortly after that, they opened a trade office. I am curious what their first impressions of India were. I could try to make a guess…The colours, the perfumes, the music, the fascinating people… it must have been a different, exciting and an enchanting, new world of many impressions to the visitors from Holland”.

The exhibition on Buddha inspired Mr. Rajamony to highlight the importance of Buddhism to the people of India. In his speech he noted that “Siddhārtha Gautama or The Buddha, ladies and gentlemen, is amongst the greatest of India’s children. Buddhism is believed to be the fourth largest religion in the world with a following of around 520 million. The religion took birth in India somewhere between the 6th to 4th centuries before the Christian era and then rapidly spread to other parts of Asia. Many of you would be familiar with the rich art and culture associated with Buddhism which can be seen in India and many other countries. A sample awaits you as part of the exhibition.

What is perhaps less known outside India is the major role and influence Gautama Buddha and his teachings had on the founding of our nation, our vision of the world and the Constitution whose adoption we celebrate today as Republic Day. Needless to say, the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi also drew direct inspiration from the teachings of the Buddha for his philosophy of non-violence”.

Ambassador Rajamony during his memorable speech.

After mayor Jan van Zanen’s speech the ambassador invited all the guests to a lavish dinner which showcased the great culinary tradition of India. Next to the many distinguished guests from the diplomatic corps and the Indian business community in The Netherlands we noticed amongst others the former Queen’s Commissioner of Limburg Berend-Jan baron van Voorst tot Voorst and the former Minister of Justice Uri Rosenthal.

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