To get a taste of a new culture, some University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students learned abut Indian food, dance and traditions late last month at the 28th annual Festival of India.
Held on Sept. 26 at Stevens Point Area Senior High, Festival of India is a celebration of the country’s culture and is organized by Shama, Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is to educate the public about Indian culture. The event included authentic cuisine, traditional dance and spiritual workshops, palm reading and Indian art.
“It’s basically an opportunity for the general public to get to know about another culture, in particular India. Stevens Point doesn’t have a huge Indian community, but this is where tons of other people from all around the Stevens Point area and Wisconsin come out and it’s a big event,” said Riddhi Gandhi, junior biology and psychology major.
Gandhi is president of International Club, a UWSP student group which helped promote Festival of India around the campus community. Members of the organization took part in the event as well by cooking food, helping decorate and teaching some of the workshops.
“It gives an opportunity to our members to go and not only volunteer, but also to volunteer with a purpose and with an educational background,” Gandhi said.
Remya Sarma-Traynor, professor of Chinese, is the club’s faculty adviser and enjoys seeing the students take part in the event. In future years, she hopes more UWSP students get involved and experience the customs of an unfamiliar country.
Festival of India allows students and community members to learn about the country as a whole and the different cultures within it, said Jyoti Chander, an event coordinator who believes the festival helped Stevens Point become more knowledgeable about India.
“People did not really understand the history or the complexity of the place. So, that diversity education was needed around here,” Chander said.