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August 9, 2005 > Festival of India

Festival of India

by Mekala Raman

This weekend, the Federation of Indo Americans (FIA) invites everyone to celebrate the culture and heritage of India. The two-day "Festival of India" features ethnic food, music, dance, artwork, storytelling and a parade.

Now in its 13th year, the festival has grown substantially. "Over these years the festival has evolved into an event that has surpassed everyone's expectations. We have grown to 75,000 attendees in recent years," said Yogi Chugh, spokesperson for FIA who has been involved with the festival since its inception.

The celebration starts on Saturday with a Free Health Fair from 9 a.m. to noon. The Health Fair will provide medical check-ups by volunteer doctors and nurses and will include women's health issues, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screening, fitness, dental, stress control, lung disease, eye exams, neurology and mental health, cancer, skin diseases, nutrition, gastroenterology and cardiology - all free of charge. The primary sponsor is Washington Hospital; biotech companies, such as Genentech, will be participating as well.

The festival also features a Career Fair on Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Intel, Office 123, Hyperion, Sonasoft, Jaypar, Cadence and others will be offering jobs both in India and the U.S.

A youth program, "Reflections," and a dance competition will be held Saturday afternoon. The dance competition, like the festival itself has grown over the years. This year nearly 50 formal and informal groups will feature classical, folk, and film dance styles from various parts of India. These groups range from large dance schools to small groups who devise their own choreography. All will be judged by a professional panel. "The competition has gotten more intense over the years, which makes the performances better and better," said Vijaya Aasuri, chair of the cultural programs. Sunday's program will include a fashion show and classical and Bollywood-style dancing.

A parade on Sunday and will feature groups from the 27 states of India and a variety of floats. Parade Coordinator Deepak Chhabra said, "The cultural pageant presents a glimpse of some of the significant signposts of Indian culture. The tableau of Kerala, Kannada, Bengal, Punjab, and Orissa represent the culture of these states of India." The parade will begin with Grand Marshal Urmila Matondkar, internationally acclaimed actress, followed by 15 floats, seven marching groups, and three marching bands, including the Fremont Education Foundation band, making its third appearance in the Festival of India parade.

Chhabra noted, "A special feature of this year's parade is the participation of Tri-City mayors, the mayor of Jalandhar in India, Sister City to Union City, and a delegation from Rajasthan."

13th Annual Festival of India
Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14
39439 Paseo Padre Pkwy., Fremont
(corner of Paseo Padre and Walnut Avenue)

Free Health Fair - 9 a.m. - noon
Mela (Fair) - 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Career Fair - noon - 7 p.m.
Cultural program - 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Reflections (Youth Program) - 1 - 2 p.m.
Cultural Dance Competition - 2 - 8 p.m.

Mela (Fair) - 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Cultural Program - 9 - 11 a.m.
Career Fair - 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Parade - noon - 2 p.m.
Gala Awards Celebrations - 2 p.m.

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