Photos courtesy of Shalini Thadani, vice president, IAM.
St. Paul, Minn. (Aug 15, 2010) – India Association of Minnesota presented its second annual IndiaFest at the St Paul Capitol Grounds on Sunday, drawing thousands to the largest pan-South Asian event in the area. After several years at the Landmark Center in St. Paul, and last year at Phalen Lake Park, IndiaFest was moved to the State Capitol grounds for the first time. Organizers said the venue has realized its promise to be a great backdrop for this fun-filled Indian festival for many years to come.
The program was kicked off at noon with a welcome from IAM Vice President Shalini Thadani. Soon thereafter, in celebration of the India’s Independence Day, the flags of both the United States and India were unfurled along by IAM founding member Jagadish Desai, followed by the respective national anthems.
“Wow! What a day! Gorgeous weather, beautiful location, tasty food, graceful performances, Indian art, excited crowds…it has all came together perfectly today at IndiaFest,” said IAM President PG Narayanan. “Today’s event exceeded expectations! Our thanks to the planning committee, volunteers, participants and the thousands of attendees.
“Vineet Gupta and Hari Pallempati led the event flawlessly,” Mr. Narayanan added.
A local band, Tarang, kicked off the cultural program with popular patriotic and Bollywood songs, that got many in the audience dancing in front of the stage. This was followed by a variety of popular Bollywood dances.
Several regional Indian programs enthralled the audience including Rabindra Sangeet from Bengal, Mohini Attam from Kerala, Odissi dance from Orissa and the ever popular Bharata Natyam dance form.
There was representation from over 20 nonprofit groups and 7 state organizations. Several businesses sponsored and sold goods and services, including several restaurateurs who served authentic and tasty Indian cuisine adding flavor to the event.
IndiaFest was sponsored by several local corporations including 3M, Wells Fargo, M&I Bank, TBS Mart, Edina Realty (Pramod & Sangeeta Chopra) and supported by partners including Localfiles and Brookdale Cinemas.
Apoorva Parischa and Shurti Iyer won the IAM Student Fellowship Awards of $1,000 each for 2010. The IAM Student award is presented to two High School Graduates each year who have academic superiority, Community volunteering, and extra-curricular activities. Both these student leaders are very active with the Indian Community and volunteer their time with various religious and cultural organizations.
The green lawns of the Capitol Grounds formed the perfect background to colorful Indian dresses worn by the attendees of the festival. Children took the colors to a whole new level by taking advantage of the free activities including face painting, henna and balloon twisting. Many of the visitors turned nostalgic seeing kites flying on India’s Independence Day – a favorite Indian pass time.
India Association of Minnesota (www.iamn.org) is a nonprofit organization whose aim is to build a strong and cohesive community of Asian Indians in the state of Minnesota. One of IAM’s primary goals is to educate and inform the broader Minnesota community about India and how to make the connection easier with India as we become a globalized world. This is achieved via a number of events throughout the year, IndiaFest being one of them.