‘In­te­gra­tion’ key to In­dia Fest


The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - By JES­SICA FARRY

THE In­dian community in Sligo have for a long time or­gan­ised some of the most colour­ful events in Sligo’s en­ter­tain­ment cal­en­dar..

This year, the group has or­gan­ised ‘In­dia Fest’ - a cel­e­bra­tion of mu­sic and dance on Oc­to­ber 21st at the Knocknarea Arena, dur­ing Di­wali, the fes­ti­val of lights.

All pro­ceeds of the event will go to the North West Hos­pice, and tick­ets are avail­able from the Hawk’s Well The­atre on 071-91-61518 or www. hawk­swell.com or from the North West Hos­pice, Wine Street on 071-91-70523.

Event co-or­di­na­tor, Ge­orge Chadda, ex­plains the event: “In­dia Fest is an In­dian per­for­mance of mu­sic, dance and mar­tial arts and is sup­ported by Sligo Live. It takes place the week­end be­fore Sligo Live but it co­in­cides with Di­wali, the In­dian fes­ti­val of lights,” he told The Sligo Cham­pion.

One of the main rea­sons for the event, he says, is in­te­gra­tion. The In­dian community in Sligo have al­ways been keen to in­te­grate into so­ci­ety here.

“There are two main rea­sons for the event tak­ing place. The theme re­ally is in­te­gra­tion through mu­sic. A lot of In­di­ans set­tled here in Sligo and sur­round­ing coun­ties and they want to live peace­fully and they want to do that by in­te­grat­ing into so­ci­ety. We’ve cho­sen mu­sic as way of in­te­grat­ing.

“It’s a re­gional event so peo­ple from the North West and fur­ther afield are more than wel­come to at­tend.”

With all pro­ceeds go­ing to the North West Hos­pice, Ge­orge says that as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers want to give some­thing back to the Hos­pice.

“The sec­ond rea­son is that the pro­ceeds of the event go to the North West Hos­pice. There has been rea­son for In­dian peo­ple to use the Hos­pice and they feel strongly about the great ser­vice and sup­port they re­ceived and they want to give all of the pro­ceeds to the Hos­pice.”

This is the first event of this type for the as­so­ci­a­tion, although they have held many of their own events be­fore and have par­tic­i­pated in cel­e­bra­tions in Sligo such as St. Pa­trick’s Day pa­rades.

“We have run many events be­fore, but a lot have been around In­dian cel­e­bra­tions. This is the first event of this type that we’ve un­der­taken. We’re en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one to come out and join us.

“There will also be ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion from the au­di­ence in the last dance of the evening. We want peo­ple to get in­volved.

“The dance that would be very fa­mil­iar to peo­ple would of course be Bol­ly­wood. Soul Beats will be per­form­ing that on the night.”

There are over 200 mem­bers reg­is­tered with the In­dian As­so­ci­a­tion, and that num­ber is grow­ing all the time.

Ge­orge is a mem­ber of the Chadda fam­ily, who were the first In­dian fam­ily in Sligo.

His fa­ther Johnny, well known thanks to his ded­i­ca­tion to Sligo Rovers, moved to Sligo in the 1950s.

Nowa­days, the Chadda fam­ily can share their cul­ture with the nu­mer­ous other In­dian fam­i­lies liv­ing in Sligo.

“We have 247 reg­is­tered mem­bers in the In­dian As­so­ci­a­tion but it’s hard to put a fig­ure on the amount of In­di­ans liv­ing in the area.

“When my fam­ily moved here in 1953, they were the only In­dian fam­ily here. It’s a pop­u­la­tion that is grow­ing all the time. We have new mem­bers com­ing in all the time and they are working in IT, Re­search and Devel­op­ment, med­i­cal, a wide range of pro­fes­sions.”

He says that the network of In­di­ans liv­ing here are a huge help to any­one who moves over.

It’s vi­tal that we have this group. It’s a great sup­port to peo­ple who are com­ing from In­dia. They can link up with peo­ple and network, and also they can share their cul­ture and in­te­grate with oth­ers.

“I’m in the What­sapp group and I can see peo­ple be­ing added into it all the time. It’s great that there is a community.”

And Ge­orge says the group has made huge strides since its in­cep­tion.

“This is the In­dian As­so­ci­a­tion’s 11 th year. My late fa­ther was one of the found­ing mem­bers. I feel we have made great strides in Sligo. We have ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in the St. Pa­trick’s Day pa­rade, the Fleadh, Yeat’s Day and more.”

For more on In­dia Fest check out ‘IN­DIA FEST 17 ’ on Face­book.

In­dian snacks will be avail­able on the night also.

In­dian As­so­ci­a­tion Fest 2017 launch: Di­vya Anil Ku­mar, Shilpa Si­vadas, Neeta Khetarpal, Gouri Bhanja, Pooja Arun, Nidhi Anilku­mar and Neha Arun. Pics: Donal Hack­ett.

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