Celebration of culture returns to SPASH
By Taylor J. Hale
STEVENS POINT – A celebration of culture, cuisine, and unity is returning to Portage County on Sept. 28.
The 32nd annual Festival of India offers guests a chance to experience the traditions and customs of India, all inside Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH).
“The culture of India is the culture of everyone,” said Jyoti Chander, event organizer.
Jyoti is a retired UW-Stevens Point (UWSP) mathematics professor with a passion for giving back. She helped establish the program over three decades ago and still maintains many aspects of the event.
Proceeds from the festival fund SHAMA Inc., a non-profit organization focused on empowering women and children, primarily in India. The group manages several programs that educate and help fund Indian villages and individuals. The festival also aids local diversity education programming and the CAP Services’ Family Crisis Center.
“Some of the money stays right here in the community,” Jyoti added.
The Festival of India will offer visitors free educational workshops, speakers and entertainment, and an Indian buffet with authentic cuisine. The event will also hold an early celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, who was born on Oct. 2, 1869.
This year’s workshop topics feature: meditation, yoga, Vipassana, Indian cooking, Ghazal traditions, Dandiya Raas dancing, Bollywood dancing, and energy healing.
Other activities at the event, include: chair massages, SHAMA informational programs, bazaar area, social dancing, and Mehndi, henna body art.
Jyoti and her husband, Jagdish, see the event as a blending of cultures where new bonds can emerge. Jagdish, a retired UWSP physics professor, is excited to have the community return for this year’s festival.
“A lot of people make new friendships at the dinner table and while dancing,” Jagdish said. “It gives people a chance to connect.”
The Festival of India will be held at SPASH, 201 Northpoint Dr., Stevens Point, 1-7 p.m.
Buffet tickets available in advance at Stevens Point Area Co-op, 633 Second Street, Stevens Point; Kindred Spirit Books, 1028 Main Street, Stevens Point; Food Tree, 1759 Greenfield Ave, Wisconsin Rapids; JR Liquor, 484 Division St, Stevens Point; AmericInn Motel, 1501 American Drive, Plover; Days Inn, 4700 Rib Mountain Drive, Wausau; or at https://www.shamainc.org/Festivals/Tkts/Tickets.htm.
For more information, visit https://www.shamainc.org/Festivals/index.htm.