04-02-14-india-fest.gifFayetteville is a diverse community. People from all around the world and from all walks of life have come to this thriving community and embraced it. Often cultural organizations look for ways to share the cultures of their native lands. On April 12, the Southeastern North Carolina Asian Indian Association (SENCAIA) presents a showcase of the Indian community.

Dancing is an art form that every culture has embraced. Indian dancing in particular has a strong cultural significance as a method to pass on religious and cultural traditions. It is a method of storytelling. “It gives a glimpse into the culture and into the cuisine. We will have entertainment all day. There will be someone on stage at all times. There will be dancing and singing. Some of the performers will be local and some will be from out of town,” said Dr. Sumedha Dalvi, who has been involved in the festivals organization from its inception.

Entertainers of all ages will showcase their talents. The sheer effort that is put into the dances that are performed is astounding. “When you see the kids perform a five minute dance, that dance took weeks of practice, it is impressive. These kids are busy with school, sports, homework and things, but they still make the time to practice. Those five minutes take so much work because they want their performance to be perfect. The parents and the kids have a great time and they get to show off their talents. They’ll even invite their friends from school to come support them,” Dalvi said.

Another important aspect of any culture is its food. People can experience Indian food in several different ways at the festival. “There will be two food vendors. People can purchase all different kinds of Indian food.

There will be vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. You can get a snack or a whole platter. This is always very popular. We will also have Indian drinks like chai and fruity drinks like mango and lychee,” Dalvi said.” There will be cooking demonstrations every hour on the hour as well. “People from our community will demonstrate how to cook traditional Indian dishes. People always like this because they get to learn how it is made and sample it. We also have a spice garden that is a booth that will be selling Indian spices. If people try a dish at a vendor and ask what is in it and want to make it at home, the booth will have spices and recipes and things.”

The traditional clothing of India is also a distinctive and beautiful aspect of the culture. “There will be three fashion shows. First, we have the kid’s fashion show, then a youth fashion show and finally, a ladies and couples fashion show. The theme for our adults fashion show is a wedding — so they will all be dressed as a bride or groom or as someone in the bridal party. We will have a bridal procession leading up to it and a fashion show on stage,” Dalvi said. Additionally, vendors will sell beautiful and traditional Indian clothing and jewelry. Two women will also help with the wrapping of the clothing. There will also be a bargain corner for donated and lightly worn traditional Indian clothing and jewelry available to purchase at a lower price.

The India Festival is a lot more than just a festival. It is a celebration and benefit the entire community. “All of the proceeds, after the cost is covered, go to local charities. This is our way of giving back to the community. We’ve been here 15 years, but coming from India and getting settled here ... the community has really embraced us. This is a way to show our culture and to give back,” Dalvi said.

The event is on April 12 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Crown Arena. The Arena is located at 1960 Coliseum dr. Admission is $2 per person and kids under three get in free.

Photo: The India Festival is a lot more than just a festival. It is a celebration and a beneጀt to the entire community. 

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