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Reliving the festival of Tricolour

Atlanta celebrated the 9th annual Festival of India (FOI) on Saturday, August 13, at the Gwinnett Civic Center, writes Meeta Chaitanya.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2005 15:58 IST

Quite often, more than every other celebration that we Indians tend to nurture

and cultivate is a festival of our own making. Aside from being assimilative and all-inclusive such shindigs are welcomed by members of the larger community with much élan.

In keeping with a tradition that has been alive and robust for the last couple of years, Atlanta celebrated the 9th annual Festival of India (FOI) on Saturday, August 13, at the Gwinnett Civic Center.

The extravaganza, which ran parallel to the celebrations of the Indian Independence Day on August 15th, was a vivid extension of a people joining in to hoist the Tricolour in the high skies. This year's theme, India Unveiled, was explored to the fullest by eager organisers and enthused patrons.

Organised each year since 1997 by the India American Cultural Association (IACA) of Atlanta along with nearly 30 ancillary community organisations, the FOI celebrates Indians in America and the India within each one of them with unstinted pompadour.

Not surprisingly, the Indian community of Atlanta and neighbouring cities attended the day-long celebrations in huge numbers. This time round the FOI included some annual regulars and a couple of events tailored specifically for this year's gala.

The FOI commenced amidst a musical performance by the Tarang Orchestra Youth group. This was followed by religious and film songs in various regional languages by the same set of artists. Other cultural activities included dances on popular, folk and classical themes as also several solo mimicry performances.

Cultural shows including a fashion show, the ever popular visa camp, seminars, health fair and exhibits by various commercial, quasi-commercial and non-profit organisations were popular among patrons. The Fashion Show; Brides and Grooms of India, in particular was hugely appreciated by visitors. It showcased the typical wedding attire of many states of India.

Equally enjoyable was the Antakshari programme that kept the participants gasping for more Hindi ditties and proved to be very popular among people of all ages. It was, however the slew of youth oriented activities and the typical Indian mela that kept visitors pivoted to the spot.

Despite Atlanta's unquestioned status as an Indian culinary hotspot on this side of the pond, the vast array of goodies on display and the mouth watering delicacies offered under one umbrella event proved to be the most eagerly anticipated constituent of this year's festival. A number of popular restaurants came together to offer sumptuous Indian specialty dishes to both the 'distinguished' Indian taste buds and the visiting festival goers.

The two other main draws this year again were, not surprisingly the Visa Camp and the Health Fair. Both the events are oriented at improving the experience of and limiting the scope of worry and scurry for Indian Americans once outside. Needless to say, people could be seen lining up at both the places to avail of the services offered by willing Indians.

Economically too, an event of the scope and magnitude of the Festival of India is a viable proposition for all those interested in the Indian prospect. Those seeking to invest in India had at their disposal, a veritable storehouse of knowledge and know-how and those keen on bringing India abroad were pleased at the significant presence of India in Atlanta.

There are some Indians who felt that the event is more hoopla and less substance and that each year it showcases a set of organisations that are just looking for good press- even so, in the larger interest of the community, such events become a platform for the united Indian spirit.

Given that Indians today from the second largest legal permanent resident group in the US, the FOI and events in that order should be given more latitude in the local media and public consciousness anyway. If certain individuals and individual organisers gain in the process, so be it. As long as their loyalty remains undivided- and it is indeed the Festival of India that continues to be hailed- let them continue to make their profits- undivided.