Originally created 09/02/01

India Day celebrates heritage, freedom



Colorful fashion, foods and the arts came together Saturday in the fifth annual celebration of India Day, held on the Augusta State University campus.

One participant was Monica Bhatt, who considers herself a typical teen-ager at Lakeside High School. She said she realizes the significance of Indian heritage in her life.

"It's an important part of who I am," said the 17-year-old senior, who plans to study public policy at Northwestern University.

Another young person, Sumir Patel, said he never hesitated to come home for the festival even though college started two weeks ago at Georgia Tech.

"When it comes to peer pressure, it's a different day. The lines are fading," said Mr. Patel, who said he's proud to be a native-born American with roots in India.

A primary reason for the festival is to provide a social setting where the local community can better understand the Indian culture, said Surendra Gupta, the president of the Indo-American Cultural Association, the sponsors of the event.

The Indian population in the Augusta area is growing, Mr. Gupta said.

Daniel George, the association board chairman, said the festival also provides opportunities to experience foods such as samosa potatoes and peas, chicken rice with cumin and curry seasoning, jalebi dessert and chai Masala tea.

Scott Henson and his wife, Paula, said the food was special.

"It's the unique spices that are used. Nice flavorings," said Mr. Henson of Augusta.

In addition to music and dance, the event celebrated India's independence from Great Britain.

Proceeds collected at sponsored events such as India Day help Augusta State University Literacy Center, The Shelter and Advocacy Center for Abused Children, and the Domestic Violence Intervention Center of the CSRA, Mr. Gupta said.

For more information about the Indo-American Cultural Association, call 860-5681 or 731-9990.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217.