This past weekend, energetic dancers in vibrant and colorful costumes performed patriotic and folk dances from various regions of India, swishing and twirling on stage. Their feet beat to the tunes of well-known folk songs, as well as modern Bollywood music. Musicians graced the stage with sitar, tabla, and other instruments as singers sang beautifully. It was all in the name of the Republic of India.
On January 26, 1950, India declared itself a sovereign, democratic, and republic state with the adoption of the Constitution, heralding the largest democracy in the history of mankind. This momentous day was celebrated right here in Westchester County as the India Center of Westchester, an organization that has become a venue for celebrating all occasions of significance to the Indian community, celebrated the 71st Indian Republic Day at Dobbs Ferry High School.
The program started with a few words of appreciation and support from Assemblyman David Buchwald, followed by renderings of both the American and Indian national anthems. A palpable sense of Indian patriotism infiltrated the air, setting the stage for more than 20 dance and music performances representing various states of India. It didn’t matter whether the performers were four years old or 74; the community united as one. All of these performances touched a chord in the hearts of the audience of approximately 500 people. There were cheers and enthusiastic applause all throughout the show.
While the performances went on for several hours, an eclectic array of mouth-watering food was being served in the nearby cafeteria. Volunteers from the Indian community had prepared delicious dishes from twelve different states of India, which resulted in a truly authentic and diverse experience.
While admission to the overall event was free, thanks to funding from ArtsWestchester and the County government, proceeds from the all-you-can-eat buffet will help India Center continue to provide its many educational and cultural activities for all. The Center aims to celebrate Indian culture and support new immigrants and seniors, as well as social and cultural activities spanning the spectrum of India’s diverse communities.
By the event’s end, many people were joking that they had eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one go – they went home satiated in mind, body and spirit, already looking forward to next year’s Republic Day event.
Sonika Gupta is an aspiring artist in Westchester County, NY. When she is not painting, she is also a volunteer at the India Center and an Arts Ambassador for ArtsWestchester. She also enjoys yoga and Indian dance in her spare time. Some of her artwork can be found at: www.instagram.com/sonikart13.