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Home Minister Amit Shah is set to inaugurate the fifth International Ramayana festival to be organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) under the Ministry for External Affairs in New Delhi from September 17-19.  It is a part of the Modi government’s exercise to project the cultural aspect of India’s soft power. 

After the national capital, the festival will also be held in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow between September 20-22 and in Pune on September 21. 

Groups from eight countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka will participate in the festival, ICCR President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe reportedly said on Friday. 

The groups will also visit Ayodhya, the holy town where Lord Rama is believed to have been born. Asked if they will also visit the Ram Temple at the disputed site, the exact place where Hindus believe Ram was born; Sahasrabuddhe said it is “natural”. 

 He also said that cultural dimension is an important aspect of soft power and the Union government since 2015 has projected it strongly.

ICCR officially announced the inauguration of cultural festival by the Home Minister Amit Shah in a tweet. 

Groups from Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius and Fiji will also participate in the festival, Sahasrabuddhe, a Rajya Sabha MP and the Vice President of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said.

 In the festival, which is generally organized before Navaratra, artists showcase cultural interpretations of the Epic.

“It is a culturally significant event as it provides a chance to witness different versions of an epic that has been traditionally transmitted by each country in its own way,” an ICCR statement said. 

The first festival in 2015 was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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