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August 7, 2007 > Festival of India

Festival of India

By Mekala Raman

On Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12, Fremont will be celebrating India's culture, history, and people at the annual Festival of India. As they have for the past 15 years, the Federation of Indo Americans (FIA) is busy preparing for this well attended festival.

Festival of India will start on Saturday with a health fair from 9 a.m. until noon followed by cultural programs and a dance competition. The festival's health fair offers free health, dental and medical attention by volunteer dentists, doctors and nurses. Primary sponsor of the Health Fair is Washington Hospital.

Saturday's youth program, "Reflections" and the increasingly popular dance competition promise a big audience. "Over the last 15 years the dance competition has earned quite a name for itself and many people look forward to it," says coordinator and Vice President of cultural programs Vijaya Aasuri. The dance competition showcases various styles of dance originating from different parts of India including classical, folk, and film (or Bollywood) style dancing. Competition has matured over the years, expanding to include a fashion show and talent showcase. This year, more than 50 participants from both large and small schools will be involved and each entry will be judged by professional critics. The festival will introduce a new feature called Desi Idol, an Indian version of American Idol.

Sunday activities begin with cultural programs followed by a parade, which will feature movie stars, dignitaries, and politicians. The parade will begin at noon. Aside from featuring famous, distinguished guests, the parade includes about 50 floats that showcase the culture and life of the 27 states of India. This year's Grand Marshal is Amrita Rao, model and Bollywood actress.

Every year the Fremont Education Foundation (FEF), sponsor of the After School Band program for elementary school children in the Fremont Unified School District, participates in the parade. "This is an exciting opportunity for our young musicians to showcase their budding musical talents before thousands of people lined along the parade route," says FEF President David Bonaccorsi, "The Fremont Education Foundation is honored to have been asked by the organizers of the Festival of India parade to have our After School Band program share in their celebration next Sunday."

Festival of India also features a Job Fair that will include information about jobs available in the United States and India. This year, the Festival will have a booth for South Asians to register for the Asian bone marrow drive. South Asians are greatly underrepresented in the National Bone Marrow Registry. At this time, 1 in 20,000 people are a match for South Asians; 600 people waiting for donations. It is estimated that 10,000 people will attend the Festival. If all register, there is high probability of a match for those in need.

Festivities close with Gala Award Celebrations. "We are hoping that the 15th Festival of India parade will attract a large number of attendees from all over the bay area, especially the Tri-City area," says FIA spokesperson Yogi Chugh.

FIA welcomes citizens of all backgrounds to share in the celebrations and learn more about the Indian culture. As Chugh points out, "This festival allows us an insight into the rich culture, the food, and the arts and crafts of India." With 15 years of experience and exciting, new special features, this year's Festival of India promises to be an exciting event. Make sure to join in the fun!

Free Health Fair - 9 a.m. - noon
Mela (Fair) - 9 a.m. - 8 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.
Parade - noon - 2 p.m.
Gala Awards Celebrations - 2 p.m.

Festival of India
Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12
39439 Paseo Padre Pkwy., Fremont
(corner of Paseo Padre and Walnut Avenue)

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