The Stevens Point community celebrated the 29th Annual Festival of India this past Saturday.
Hosted at Stevens Point Area Senior High, the festival included workshops on meditation, yoga and Indian cooking.
Jyoti Chander has coordinated this event every year since 1987.
The workshops offered at the festival vary from year to year, but always focus on educating community members on the culture of India.
Proceeds from the festival go towards SHAMA, Inc., a program that establishes projects to empower those living in poverty.
SHAMA began by offering scholarships, books and clothes to students in the slums of Mumbai, India.
It has since expanded to include other projects such as the transformation of a village into an eco-village by providing residents with the ability to create their own solar energy, biodegradable sanitary napkins and organic produce.
While the global benefits of the festival are undeniable, on a smaller scale the festival helps to educate citizens here in the Stevens Point area about India and its culture.
Todd Jahnke, who has been practicing meditation for thirty years, returned for a second time to lead a workshop on meditation.
In the workshop, Jahnke spoke on the importance and difficulties of being present in the moment, especially in a society so dominated by technology.
Mary Runnoe, senior psychology major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, attended the workshop on meditation.
“I think meditation can be a good way to de-stress, especially before an exam when there’s one hundred other things going on in my head,” Runnoe said.
Jahnke was impressed by the high number of people in Stevens Point who have expressed an interest in meditation.
“This area is really fortunate … there are a lot of really great resources here, it’s a very forward thinking community,” Jahnke said.
This year’s festival offered something for everyone and managed to be both educational and entertaining.
“[By] having a good time we can change the world in a positive way,” said Chander, event coordinator.
Chander added that for anyone who is interested in learning more about the culture of India, there are free dance lessons every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. in room 154 of the Health Enhancement Center.