Below is a transcription of the original Gainesville Sun article that was published on March 23th, 2005. The original article clipping can be viewed at the bottom of the page.

Vaishali Patil performs the Kathak dance, which is one of the six major classical dances of lndia. Kathhak means “to tell a story.”

Continued from ID

India Fest 2005 celebration on the grounds of Santa Fe Community College’s northwest campus.

Each year, the India Cultural and Education Center, which sponsors the festival, comes up with a different theme to teach Westerners about India.

Since this year’s India Fest falls on March 26, the Indian holiday called Holi, festival organizers decided to focus their cultural presentations around the festivals of India.

India Fest itself is a lovely festival filled with glitter – women with hennaed hands wearing spangly jewelry and saris embroidered with golden thread – excellent Indian cuisine, cultural presentations and dances, and vendors selling all sorts of exotic wares. If you can’t travel overseas, this festival is a good start at cross-cultural understanding.

This year’s event will encourage more audience participation than in the past. Two of the dances, a Bhangda from 1:45 to 2 pm. and a Garba from 6~6:30 p.m., will be open to audience members.

“The Bhangda is a folk dance from Punjab that ‘is very popular due to its lively rhythmic beats and aerobic movements,” says Ranade, one of the festival’s organizers. “This is a participatory item, so everyone can join in with the music.”

The Garba is a folk dance from Gujarat, danced during Navratri, which literally means nine nights. “Once again, it’s a good-over-evil celebration,” explains Ranade, who has been participating in organizing Indian cultural events since coming to the United States as a graduate student in 1986.

Children perform a Tamil folk dance that describes the Thai Poosam festival for Lord Subramanya Back row from left Bhavani Srinivas, Megan Mathew, Mihir Patel Meera Srinivasan Saumya Keremane Front row Musha Peters Priya Pohani.

“It’s a circle dance, a clap dance,” says Ranade. “Everyone can join in. Little children, big people, men and women. It’s very popular all over the United States in the Indian community. It’s very fast and fun.”

The festivals will be represented through dance and dramatic presentations. Diya, at 5:45 p.m., is a folk dance with candles that celebrates Diwali. Onam, a festival in the southern Indian state of Kerala, is celebrated for 10 days, when houses are decorated with flowers. In the Onam dance at 4:30 pm., girls dressed in white cotton saris with gold borders will dance around a brass lamp.

As in previous years, there will be Indian cuisine for sale. But unlike the last festival, where you purchased one complete meal, there will be food booths set up where you can pick and choose from a larger, more varied menu.

“We have foods of India, some of the popular ones – samosas, dosas,” says Mathura Alladi, director of the Hathiswara School of Dance and Music and one of the festival’s many organizers.

“These are some of the snacks that we give, the main delicacies of India,” says Alladi. “We’ve found that the Westerners really enjoy the food stalls.”

Samosas are a mild blend of potatoes and peas wrapped in pastry and deep-fried. Among the many other food choices are chicken biryani, fragrant basmati rice layered with spicy chicken cooked with onion, tomatoes, yogurt, ginger, garlic and cardamom; sambhar, vegetables cooked with spiced lentils and then garnished With fried mustard seeds, curry leaves and fresh cilantro; and gulab jamun, small balls made of flour, condensed milk and Whipped cream that are fried and then soaked in sugar syrup flavored with saffron and i cardamom.

From 9-ll a.m., a free health fair will offer medical screenings and information about different diseases You can get blood work done for a $35 fee. If that is your preference, don`t eat or drink anything except water after midnight.

The festival’s proceeds go toward maintenance of the India Cultural and Education Center on SW 13th Street.

Julie Garrett – Gainesville Sun

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