The 25th Annual Festival of
India celebrated Indian culture in central Wisconsin this past weekend at the
Stevens Point Area High School.
Anshu Varma, one of the Indian
dancers and volunteers, mentioned the festival was to showcase the Indian
culture for those who are not aware. Varma has volunteered for the last 13
years and was glad to bring India to central Wisconsin.
The food, merchandise and
dancing brought a lot variety to the event.
“We’re trying to show a little
bit of India. The singing, the dancing, the clothes, the music. This is what
India is all about, the people,” said Swati Biswas, another one of the Indian
dancers and volunteers for the festival.
Biswas wanted to show some of
the wedding traditions through dance. She could not bring in every element of
the tradition, like fire, but she knew she wanted to paint a vivid picture as
best as she could.
“To me, it was real exciting
to bring that message [through dance] that it is a commitment for a husband and
wife for the rest of your life,” Biswas said.
In addition to the food,
merchandise and dance, there was also an underlying charitable effort for the
Festival of India. The proceeds went back to families in India who are
struggling. Even some of the dancers themselves are sponsoring orphan girls
“A lot the proceeds from the
sales go directly to SHAMA. We know that there aren’t any middle people, and
this makes it special,” said Monica Dvorak, a third dancer and volunteer for
The Festival of India is
sponsored by SHAMA Inc., a non-profit organization that strives to enhance the
life of women and children in India. SHAMA supports the Festival of India in
the hopes of educating American children about the Indian heritage and
educating Indian children about their own heritage.
University of Wisconsin –
Stevens Point stopped by the festival after hearing about it on campus.
“I heard about it through
university announcements, and I’m also in an interior architecture class where
we have to do outside-class activities. So this is mine,”
said Chris Paquette, a student
Gretchen Guinn, who attended
the festival with Paquette, mentioned that she thinks cultural events are
important to the community.
“It also helps break down
stereotypes of what we normally think about Indian cultural and shows the
actual culture,” Guinn said.
also mentioned the importance of getting out of your comfort zones to explore
and gain knowledge about other cultures. The Festival of India was another
opportunity to do so.