Sanskriti – Culture Transcending Borders
by Anand Narayanan and Dipak Prasad
“When the history of Booth Amphitheatre is written, Diwali might just turn out to be its most epic chapter.” – Cary Citizen
The above accolade sums up the success of Cary Diwali this year’s event with an apt theme of ‘Sanskriti – Culture Transcending Borders’. Eleventh year in running, team Hum Sub working with Town of Cary and Community at large pulled off yet another fabulous episode of Cary Diwali 2011. This year’s event was held on October 22, 2011 at Booth Amphitheater in Cary and attracted crowd of gigantic proportion from such a diverse population in the Triangle area. People came in droves with great fervor to celebrate Diwali despite colder than usual weather during the event day.
Ever beautiful Booth Amphitheater, the venue maintained by Booth Amphitheater staff working with Cary Town Parks and Recreation, in a picturesque backdrop provided a perfect platform for what was to come in a bright and sunny Saturday morning. Lighting of holy lamp by Cary Mayor, Harold Weinbrecht and Don Frantz, Town Council Member marked the beginning of festivities.
This was followed by an impressive roster of performances from the local community members – from little children to grown-ups, as well as performances from NCSU and UNC Dance Groups and a Turkish Dance group.
There was an incredible Exhibition themed ‘Establishing Roots, Culture Transcending Borders: The Asian-Indian American Diaspora in the US’ exemplified important contributions by citizens of Indian origins to the community at large including the Triangle area. As always, exhibition is one of the key components of Cary Diwali and its getting better every year. This year’s exhibition also included unique Indian folk art that’s very much functional in everyday life by artist Ms.Sampada Agarwal and fabulous art work by Mr. Vimal. There were also kid’s activities to learn decorating Diyas, make Rangoli and luminaries in the exhibition area. Another unique activity included painting of umbrellas that were to be given away in a raffle.
Crescent area of Amphitheater was filled with vendors selling beautifully crafted Indian Jewelry, excellent array of Indian art, clothing and other artifacts. There was a wide variety of food vendors where attendees could get authentic Indian food and beverages. There were Non-profit organizational in various forms and shape and other services in representing various facets of the community. Triangle area’s incredibly talented Indian community portrayed variety of Indian dance and music from different parts of India with participants of age 7 through 70.
Russian Dance Ensemble – Mayuri epitomized this year’s theme in how a Russian dance school in remote places of Russia was able to foster, highlight and share Indian artistic traditions across geographic borders, Led by Evgrafova Vera Ivanovna. This incredibly talented group of 18 beautiful Russian women showcased Indian traditional and modern dance styles with such aplomb.
Their mastery of various Indian dance forms, from classical to folk and modern Bollywood, along with their elegant yet energetic performance had the audience spellbound and mesmerized. As a fitting finale, the event wrapped up with a colorful display of fire works.
Congressman David Price, Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, Cary Town Council member Don Frantz and Minister Mr. N.A.Prasad from Embassy of India, Washington DC were few of key dignitaries to grace Cary Diwali this year. Key sponsors of the event included Himanshu Shah of Shah Capital Management and major corporations in the Triangle area.
The Fall line-up of Hum Sub’s offerings also included an outdoor movie event at Booth Amphitheatre on Aug 18th and Garba Night on Oct 1st 2011. Hum Sub sponsored the screening of “Outsourced” as part of the “Movies by Moonlight” Series. The festivities started with a small skit, culminating into a Bollywood dance number – appropriately setting the tone for the rest of the evening. The movie itself, starring Josh Hamilton and Ayesha Dharker, presented an interesting look at the differences and similarities between Indian and American culture. The chilly weather on Oct 1st did not stop attendees from enjoying Garba in an open venue with live music. An energetic show by accomplished artist “Tanwer Mian” had people dancing to his melodies late into the night.
Once again the Hum Sub team put together a string of amazing events, fulfilling its mission of raising awareness of Indian cultural traditions in the Triangle area. The Hum Sub team sincerely thanks all volunteers, vendors, performers, visitors and sponsors for their continued support.
2011 Exhibition Highlight:
Each year, Hum Sub puts together an exhibition that highlights some aspect of India and its culture in line with that year’s Cary Diwali theme. An immense number of hours are spent on the content and presentation of the material so that it is visually appealing and mentally stimulating. We strive to offer something new to each visitor, no matter their country of origin.
This year, as part of Cary Diwali’s 2011 theme – ‘Sanskriti – Culture Transcending Borders’, there was an exhibition titled ‘Establishing Roots, Culture Transcending Borders – Becoming a ‘global’ citizen’ which highlighted the contributions of persons of Indian as well as non-Indian origin to the country’s economic, cultural, and scientific progress in various fields of study. Ten different areas of study were chosen and more than 90 personalities were presented. Visitors were delighted to see this unique exhibit that educated and inspired both young and old. A number of parents were seen taking their children along while reading and re-reading all the material presented. Each and every personality could be identified as a role model for the young. All were thrilled to see the success of first and second generation Asian-Indians over time which helped make them a notable part of our global society. Non-Indian attendees were engrossed in Indian culture which was a delightful experience. This exchange of culture and ideas is what makes the American society so rich and diverse.
We strongly felt that the purpose of the exhibition (to highlight the symbiotic and collaborative sentiments fostered by each group and the portrayal of how everyone has benefited and grown to become a true “global citizen”) was most definitely served. The fantastic response from the visitors was testament to the success of the exhibition.
Along with imparting such contemporary information, the exhibition also highlighted an Indian tribal art form called “Warli”, which hails from the Thane district of the state of Maharashtra in India. The Warli are a tribe based in the otherwise affluent state of Maharashtra. It is indeed amazing that just a few kilometers away from the bustling metropolis of Mumbai, this tribe continues with its rudimentary methods of farming and still lives in mud huts. Warli art is characterized by abstraction of the natural world. The primitive style of rendering is reminiscent of cave paintings of early man but they have a rich wealth of folklore to draw from which gives them a storyboard appearance at times.
A bench, a shelf, and an umbrella embellished with the Warli art form was put up as a means to educate everyone about this wonderful and simple art form. The response to this section of the exhibit was very positive. A hand–painted Warli umbrella, raffled off at the end of the day, also garnered a lot of attention.
On another end of the exhibition, one more umbrella was stationed for anyone wanting to try their hand at painting it. This collaborative artwork was a definite crowd pleaser. We were encouraged to see quite a few who had not ever held a paint brush or had not done so in years enjoy themselves with abandon. The final painted product was spell-binding! It was hard to imagine that something so pretty could result from such an uncommon way of painting. A lucky winner took home this painted umbrella at the end of the day.
Everyone appreciated the brochures and leaflets available for reading or taking, courtesy of the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. A TV, setup on one side, was showing the famous documentary The Story of India, where Michael Wood embarks on a dazzling and exciting journey through today’s India, “seeking in the present for clues to her past, and in the past for clues to her future”.
The central area of the exhibition showcased the rich heritage of textiles from India in the form of saris. The rich and vibrant colors, smooth silks, and traditional weaves of the saris put on display were dazzling. There was also a smaller section where different styles of hand embroidery on saris were highlighted. In the end, it was a wonderful smorgasbord that was a feast for the eyes and for the senses.
We hope to see more collaborative work done with the community in the years to come and welcome ideas and participation from one and all.