| The 2007 India Day event on September 8 at the Library Mall in Madison was not just a get-together of people of Indian descent. It was much more than simply having a party. It was a celebration of diverse Indian cultures and beliefs. It was unity at its best, starting with celebrating India's independence from British rule, celebrating the freedoms they now enjoy as citizens of the United States of America -- their new home; and highlighting each other's traditions.
This yearly event, graciously offered to the Madison community by the Association of Indians in America (AIA) for decades, highlighted diversity in food and music, as well as services provided -- back home -- through nonprofit organizations, such as the Combat Blindness Foundation (CBF).
CBF's work in India was prominently displayed in one of the booths. Founded by Dr. Suresh Chandra, professor of opthalmology and visual science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, CBF has provided free cataract surgeries to poor patients in developing countries. (Asian Wisconzine, Dec. 2005 issue, p. 21).
From colorful bharatnatyam dance numbers performed by students of Kalaanjali, Natyarpana and Spandhan schools of dance to the very energetic but extremely graceful execution of kathak dance by Natalia Armacanqui Hildner, the classical Indian dances were the highlight of the day.
When Poridipta Mukharjee danced a Bollywood number, the crowd couldn't resist stomping their feet.
There were also songs and other musical numbers performed by students of Ramya Kapadia and Vanitha Suresh, as well as Naveen Aditya, who entertained with his harmonica and flute.
And while the day's "kitchen corner" was busy selling Indian dishes to a long line of folks, the American Hindu Association (AHA) leaders were inviting people to celebrate Sri Krishna Jayanthi later that afternoon at Shorewood Community Center. Neeta Saluja was also busy signing her new cook book, "Six Spices," while parents, friends, guests, and curious onlookers, admired the wonderful performances, clicking their cameras away to record a part of Wisconsin's colorful history.
|Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor, Asian Wisconzine
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
|India Day 2007/Unity in diversity at its best|
|(Above) The AIA India Day Committee led by AIA Pres. Anu Palaparti (4th from left)|