Huge India bazaar marks 14th year
Bangles and bindi, saris and samosas, dancing and ethnic food: The culture of India is on display this weekend at India Festival 2001.
By BABITA PERSAUD
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 1, 2001
TAMPA -- A silk handkerchief tied to his forefinger and his hand on his hip, Rahul Pandya, 14, moves sideways across the stage to a dance instructor's commands.
Girls perform a folk dance from the Gujarat region of India during India Festival in 1996.
"Go, go, go!" she says. "Show energy!"
For weeks, the Indian community has been preparing for the India Festival, which has become a way "to promote and project culture," said organizer Nainan Desai.
It's also a feast for non-Indian eyes, and several thousand visitors attend the event each year.
Some 70 stalls will be set up inside USF's Sun Dome, with bangles, bindi forehead dots and henna for sale in a bazaarlike setting. Also on display will be yards and yards of vibrant Indian saris, sparkling langa outfits (skirt and top sets) and Indian DVDs, movies and music, most adorned with pictures of smiling Indian film actors from "Bollywood."
Many local Indian caterers and restaurants in town will have booths, offering dishes including curries, samosas (a crispy turnover stuffed with seasoned peas and potatoes), and chicken tikka (chicken marinated and roasted with spices).
Dance troupes are traveling to the festival from throughout the Southeast. Some will be competing for trophies and prizes.
The festival, now in its 14th year, is sponsored by one of the Tampa Bay area's most active Indian organizations, the Gujarati Samaj, which now includes more than 600 families. The Tampa families that started that group in 1981 came from the Gujarat state of India, an industrial and business area of the country.
India Festival 2001 had been scheduled for late September but was postponed out of respect for the victims of the terror attacks.
Proceeds from beverage sales at some stalls will go to victim and family relief funds in New York, said Gujarati Samaj's president, Kirit Shah.
Also, due to Sept. 11, security will be tighter than usual. No video cameras or camera bags allowed. Still cameras are allowed without a bag.
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India Festival 2001 will be 1-10 p.m. Saturday at the University of South Florida Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for children under 12. For information, check out www.gujaratisamaj.org.
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