By Sibel Morrow
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey and India have no physical borders, but the Indian Embassy in Ankara has set out to establish emotional bonds between the two countries using the magical power of art through children's hands.
The embassy has organized a painting contest themed "Glimpses of India" in which schoolchildren from Ankara, Antalya, Istanbul and Bursa are taking part.
The aim is "to connect the two very ancient countries through the minds of the children, who will make the future for us," said Sanjay Bhattacharyya, India’s ambassador to Turkey.
"We believe that we can make a very good connection between India and Turkey through the children because their minds always open up new ideas for all of us.”
Colors and drawings are different, but the feelings are the same. Curious eyes and clever minds are depicting India's distinctive features. Some children prefer painting famous Indian mythological figures while others are painting renowned historical buildings.
Cansu Albayrak, 15, a high school student, wants to draw Ganesha, a famous elephant-headed character in Hindu mythology. She said she had no knowledge about Indian culture but decided to research it after joining the competition.
"It is very exciting to learn new things. I realized that Turkey and India have quite different cultures,” she said.
Cansu said she believes that art is a means of bonding for people and noted that having young people engage in this is very meaningful.
"This competition is a great opportunity for us to know Indian culture," said Huriye Ikinci, an art teacher at Ankara University Development Association Private Anatolian High School.
Noting that the students learned a lot, Ikinci said she hoped to establish ties with Indian children as well.
"Children need these kinds of opportunities to be able to gain a global viewpoint," she added.
Eight-year-old Serkan Bozkurt, an autistic child at a primary school in Ankara's Cubuk district, is also one of the contestants. But there is one thing that makes him different.
Although most of the children are making use of sample photos, Serkan was able to draw India's world-famous Taj Mahal without doing that.
His teacher, Mehtap Metin, said Serkan has a special talent for painting.
"We came here under very difficult conditions and with limited opportunities. There were 15 more students who wanted to come, but as we don't have enough money, we couldn't bring them."
For children of a district that is 70 kilometers away from Ankara, taking part in such a competition is a big deal, Metin said, adding she believes that the winner will be one of her students.
Their hands are small, but their power of imagination is immense.
Sefa Kursun is another 8-year-old child taking part in the competition. He said he preferred drawing a cow, as he has just learned that it is a holy animal for Indians.
A total of 80 children will compete in four categories; elementary, middle school, high school and children with special needs.
Bhattacharyya said 20 prizes will be awarded in four categories in each city. The grand prize will be two tickets to India.
The results of the competition will be announced on June 10-11.