India, the vast and culturally diverse South Asia country where religious traditions vary widely and nearly 20,000
dialects are spoken across its 29 states,
will be showcased at a rescheduled festival later this month.
The India Association of Oklahoma
(IAOK) will host the India Food and
Arts Festival at the Myriad Gardens
from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 24.
Admission to the family-friendly immersive cultural event is free.
Every region of the country will be
represented at the festival, IAOK
spokesperson Angela Oommen said.
The festival will feature a wide
variety of experiences including food,
jewelry, dance and music performances, art, a fashion show, and workshops
Festival participants will also have opportunities to dress in traditional clothing and play a variety of popular Indian
games, including cricket.
The food menu for the festival includes many dishes, including dosa,
chicken biryani, chole, mango lassi, and
more. India’s culinary styles are incredibly flavorful and colorful and include
lots of vegetarian-friendly options.
Cumin, fennel, cardamom, turmeric,
chili pepper, coriander, mustard, and
cinnamon are some of the common
spices in Indian cuisine, and many
dishes contain coconut milk, ghee
(clarified butter), and yogurt for richness. Some regional cuisines incorporate lamb, chicken, or fish, and
Indian desserts are decadent and
The festival schedule includes many
dance performances by local Indian
dance academies. Indian classical dance
is highly athletic, and the dancers’ costumes are made of luxurious, colorful
fabrics and include lots of jewelry and
accessories. Mythic narratives, religious stories, and devotional messages
are often woven into the choreography.
The mission of IAOK is for people to
enjoy and learn about India and “to let
everyone know that we’re all one and
Oklahomans,” Oommen explained. The
organization, founded in 1976, is dedicated to promoting Indian culture in
Oklahoma and serving in areas of need.
They have served in many ways in the
OKC-metro community and in India
throughout the pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic,
when PPE was in very short supply,
IAOK coordinated volunteers to hand-stitch 10,000 fabric masks to be distributed around the metro area. In June,
IAOK and the Hindu Temple of
Oklahoma hosted a COVID vaccination
clinic for the community. In July, the
organization held a public picnic and
bake sale in the Wheeler District to
raise funds to send to India through the
worst of the Delta variant surge there,
among other community efforts.
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