IndiaFest marks culture, Mid-South contribution
Special to The Commercial Appeal
This weekend’s IndiaFest 2009 is presented to you by Zero. And Infinity.
Santosh Kumar, one of the festival’s officials, says the two mathematical concepts were created by Indians and the world has thought about things differently ever since.
In honor of that contribution, Kumar came up with the theme “From Zero to Infinity” to identify this annual celebration of art, culture, music and cuisine presented by the Indian Association of Memphis.
IndiaFest has been making its mark since 2003, growing each year. About 1,000 people came that first year; this year organizers are planning for 10,000 to 12,000 to attend Saturday’s event at Agricenter International.
Kumar points to the increasing number of Indians coming to the Mid-South as a reason for the growth of IndiaFest. “They are coming primarily because of technology and the medical industry presence here,” he says, mentioning FedEx, St. Jude and International Paper.
“It also means that more of our friends and colleagues want to understand about Indian culture,” he says.
The event has also increased awareness by using Facebook and Twitter as well as more traditional means of getting the word out.
A top attraction that closes out the evening is Guitar Prasanna in concert. The celebrated jazz, rock and Indian classical instrumentalist and composer (guitarprasanna.com) fuses multiple genres on his electric guitar.
Other events provide a rich variety of the Indian experience.
An exhibition created for the festival focuses on several distinct cultural contributions that India has made since ancient times, including Yoga, India’s mathematicians, Bollywood and chess, which was invented in India.
One of the exhibits looks at “the fact that structured education was prevalent in ancient India,” Kumar says. The world’s first university is said to be Takshila founded about 700 BC.
Another exhibit explores the Indus Valley which, Kumar says, was one of the earliest “fully developed urban settlements with buildings and sewage systems and water systems.”
A panel discussion at noon will feature Raj Subramanian, senior vice president of international marketing for FedEx, and Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious-disease physician and member of the Healthy Memphis Common Table Council, discussing various topics.
The festival bazaar will offer jewelry, paintings, Yoga classes, cooking shows and Mehendi (removable tattoos). A fashion show is also planned.
Food booths will offer examples of cuisine from all parts of India. And a section set aside for children will have games, activities and a parade.
A team from Kerala performs a dance-drama at the 2008 IndiaFest. Some 10,000-12,000 are expected this year.