Spindle India, a non-profit organization that serves as a bridge between India and the United States, held its 3rd annual IndiaFest Milwaukee at Humboldt Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Aug. 15, a press release reported. Coinciding with India’s 69th Independence Day, the festival drew a crowd of 15,000 attendees.
The event was kicked off with a children’s parade that saw children dressed in traditional Indian attire, holding Indian flags high as they walked to the Red Fort, a miniature replica of the Lal Kela in Delhi. They were accompanied by the pleasant sound of the traditional Indian dhol (drum).
The guests of honor were Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto, Bay View Alderman Tony Zielinski and Representative of Air India Katherine Thorat. They, along with Purnima Nath, president of Spindle India, hoisted the Indian flag together, while children sang the Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana.” The American national anthem was sung soon after by Priyanka Guptasarma. Following this, patriotic songs of India were sung by adults and children.
“There is no better way to learn about Indian culture. We are weaving happiness as we bring people together through collaboration. Our goal is to weave India’s colorful cultural threads into the rich multicultural tapestry of American culture,” said Purnima Nath, producer and chair woman of IndiaFest Milwaukee, in a press release.
Suresh Krishnaiya, IndiaFest program director, lined up an entire day of non-stop programs that kept the audience engaged and eager for more. The 12-hour long schedule allowed attendees to experience a mini-India through the many activities: a photo booth with Indian landmarks, rangolis (folk art), turban tying, saree tying, raffles, hand/palm reading, a bouncy house, face painting, henna, threading, bubbles, tattoos, a pan-India fashion show and more.
Traditional dance, music and instruments were presented gracefully, along with several new programs, such as the Wisconsin Indian Singing Idol, in which registered candidates went through rigorous screening by professional singers before being selected to participate on the final day. Participants were judged on their song delivery, voice quality, singing ability, pitch, tune and rhythm. The grand finale winners of each category were Anish Gowda, Hamsini Dalluri, Neha Nath Patil, Priyanka Iyer, Bhargav Puttaparti, Oishee Chakrabarti, Vijender Karody, Supriya Vidwans and Madhura Pethe.
IndiaFest’s market place featured Indian clothing, bangles, jewelry, threading and henna. Famous food vendors from the Wisconsin and Chicago area, including Anmol, Bollywood Grill, Bombay Sweets, Asian Fusion, Vani’s Kitchen and Tandoor, sold traditional Indian food ranging from puri to pakode, choley boturey to chaat, biriyani to dosa, and samosas to pani poori. Desserts, such as kulfi, slushies and ice cream from Chicago Chillers, Babe’s Ice Cream and La Coppa, were also served. Even a Mexican restaurant was part of IndiaFest! Regarding the Mexican restaurant, Ranjit Verma said in a press release, “We need to be inclusive. Having another sector want to be a part of our festival only indicates our organic growth, and it is good for our community.”
Global airline company “Air India,” solely owned by the Government of India, has supported IndiaFest since its launch in 2013. FIS, Trayix, Wisdom Infotech, Sikh temple of Brookfield and Galst Food are some of the other veterans who have been supporting IndiaFest since its birth. Other corporations, such as Kinder Care, Harley Davidson Motor Company, Flexion and State Bank of Chilton, have also joined hands to sponsor this event.
Many volunteers helped to plan, execute and spearhead the entire event. According to a press release, youngsters have been an integral part of Spindle India’s IndiaFest Milwaukee. Children, some as young as five years old, helped out in many areas, such as decorating, building, painting, sales, distribution and management. By volunteering, the children were able to learn about and stay connected to their roots.
“Projects are the best way to learn, and, in this case, youngsters were connecting to our roots through activities,” Nath said in a press release.