An extravaganza of Indian culture and cuisine was organised by the Hindu Association of Arkansas to raise funds for the construction of a Hindu temple. Nearly half the people at the event were non-Hindu, creating an excellent opportunity for cultural exchange.
The event, held last week, raised close to $40,000.
"Our main purpose is to showcase India and introduce ourselves to the community," said Bk Vasan, president of the association. "We have a significant Indian population in Northwest Arkansas. We want to create awareness and give people a glimpse of who we are and what our culture is like."
Traditional Indian food, dances from different parts of India was the major highlights of the event.
Women wore silk saris, while men opted for kurtas over loose pajamas. Several wore slippers with elaborately curled toes or turbans wound about their heads.
"Twenty per cent of the fund raised will go to the children's advocacy centre in Little Flock. The rest is earmarked for road construction near the land the association owns in Gentry. A temporary prayer hall was erected in 2005. The association plans to build a Hindu temple on the site eventually," Vasan was quoted as saying in the Morning News of Arkansas.
University of Arkansas Chancellor John White gave the keynote address.
Rollin Ford, executive vice president with Wal-Mart Information Systems Division, also spoke on the occasion. Many of the area's Indian American families work for the retail outlets.
"This event is a testament to the quality work that you produce and the innovative skills you bring to our company," Ford said.
The Hindu Association of Arkansas was formed in the mid-1990s to serve the growing Hindu population in the area. Today, between 300 and 400 Hindu families call Northwest Arkansas home.