Cultural Encounters between South Asia and Germany The Sound of Faraway Lands
South Asia maintains a long tradition of yearning for German cultural figures and intellectuals. Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha, published in 1922, is an expression of this fascination. The book also shaped the South Asian enthusiasm of the 1960s and 1970s, when thousands of young people set out on the so-called hippie trail. Even today, yoga and Ayurveda are an integral part of everyday culture. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Siddhartha, the Goethe-Instituts in South Asia are exploring the ways South Asia and Germany are received by one another and how each is projected in the other region in literature, music, film and everyday culture.
Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha, published in 1922, is part of the tradition of enthusiastic romanticism about India in Germany. The novel also had a formative influence on a later phase of India euphoria, which saw thousands of young people from Europe and the U.S. embark on journeys to India and Afghanistan in the 1960s and 1970s. How did Siddhartha shape the image of India in Germany? On the occasion of 100 years of Siddhartha, contributions on the mutual reception of South Asia and Germany are brought together here - in literature, music, film and everyday culture.
Music has been a continuous agent of interaction between local and international interests, an expression of liquid modernity. Southasia and Germany resonate as cosmopolitan spaces for intercultural transnational exchanges, with live music events and festivals mushrooming since the 1960s. A burgeoning interest can be recapitulated with JISR, a German band that toured South Asia in the late 1960s, with Afghanistan and India as important cultural stops. What once were just palatable teasers are now a regular delight, with music becoming increasingly fluid since the very dawn of the 21st century.
JISR in South Asia
Jisr is Arabic for “bridge”. The popular international ensemble performs in a wide variety of instrumentations with top-class virtuoso musicians. Rooted in several musical genres, this unconventional musical project builds bridges between Arabian, Afro, jazz, rock and classical music and takes the path of maximum musical variation and improvisation.
In 2016, Ramdan came from Morocco to Munich to study German where he founded the group with two refugee Syrians. Marja Buchard is also a Jisr band member. The multi-instrumentalist is the leader of Embryo, a world music group founded by her father Christian Burchard in 1969, which she took over in 2016 and has continued to lead since his death in 2018.
In March 2022, Jisr will tour South Asia at the invitation of the Goethe-Institut - with stops in Colombo, Karachi, Dhaka, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.
The band Embryo was founded in 1969 by multi-instrumentalists Christian Burchard and Edgar Hofmann in Munich. The two are considered to be the pioneers of the so-called Krautrock in the 1960s. The band travelled overland from Germany to India and Afghanistan in 1979. Since then, the band has been intensively involved with Indian, Afghan and also African music. To this day, the band combines jazz with rhythms and instruments from India, Africa and the Arab world.
Marja Burchard, the co-founder of the band Jisr, took over the leadership of Embryo from her father Christian Burchard in 2016.