Tallahassee gets a taste of Indian culture

Donned in colorful, traditional Indian garb, hundreds of members of the India Association of Tallahassee along with members of the local community flocked to the Chiles High School Auditorium Saturday for Glimpses 2009. The event was an entertainment exhibition full of popular songs, customary dances, and historic skits by the members of India Association and their families. A night of fellowship, several generations from newborns to elders made up the audience. There was a sense of familiarity in the room as adults showed off their young ones and older children ran about playing and greeting other families. Aliana Balaji, a member of the India Association of Tallahassee and event organizer says the night was a chance to pass along cultural traditions to the next generation. “Indian culture comes here and you want to give the culture to your children, and you want to do a few Indian things with Indian people so children learn the pride of their heritage.” “It’s all for the children really.” The acts are mostly made up of children ranging in age from four to fifteen. Padmini Lakshmin, member if the India Association of Tallahassee, was the chief choreographer of the dances, and according to Balaji participants practice the entire year for this premiere event. Balaji said even the lightest of dance is nothing like causal American dancing. “These are not casually put together. A lot of it has to do with some education about Indian history…these are very serious choreographed pieces. Some of them are even classical pieces.” Many of the acts represented different cultures from all over the country of India. Midway into the show an act featuring very young children dressed to represent everyone from North Indians and South Indians to Muslim Indians. “India is not a melting pot; it’s a buffet. We are all so different, but it’s a culture of acceptance,” said Balaji. Holding mini flags, the children sang a song with lyrics meaning, “I go to the mother” which also means “Hail India.” “It was the cry for the freedom movement. I go to the mother and it’s…you’re fighting for your motherland. And it’s said during time a time of memorial. It’s a very ancient saying,” said Balaji. While the harmonious performance was an adorable sight, the content was deeply rooted in India’s ancient history. “An ancient society goes down. It goes up…but over the thousands of years in India there’s been many cycles, so it’s a cry that’s been used by many, many of people. Hopefully they (the children) learn by performing,” said Balaji. Despite technical issues with the audio system, the program moved along quickly. Devaj Acharya, from South India member of the India Association of Tallahassee, waited anxiously for his daughter to perform. He thought this year’s event was a huge success. “This is once in a year we celebrate our Indian culture program. It’s a chance for me to be out with my entire family.”