Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hindu Society Brings India Culture to Area Food Lures Most People at Fest

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hindu Society Brings India Culture to Area Food Lures Most People at Fest

Article excerpt

Byline: Tracy Spengler, County Line correspondent

While religion, customs and clothing may vary dramatically from culture to culture, it seems that great food always equals a great time. This was definitely the case for the Hindu Society of Northeast Florida's India Fest, which was held Saturday at the Hindu Temple on U.S. 17 in Orange Park.

The steamy, summer-like weather didn't keep the crowds away as hundreds of people -- mostly members of the temple -- gathered for food, fun, music and camaraderie.

"This is the first year we've had an actual India Fest," said Sara Iyer, vice president of special events for the society. "In years past, we've just sold food to raise funds. This year we have entertainment, arts and crafts, vendors, activities for the kids, and, of course, plenty of food."

From 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., visitors celebrated "everything that is Indian."

"There are over 25 states of India, and each one is distinct," Iyer said. "They have different languages, different food and different music. We are trying our best to represent something from each state."

An example of the diversity displayed at the India Fest was the dancing. Dancers performed the Korathi dance, which is a typical folk dance of South India, as well as the Rajasthani dance, which is popular in North India.

Eighteen-year-old Jenie Chandirasegar and 15-year-old Sangeetha Subramanian were among the dancers who have been practicing diligently for the India Fest with their instructor, Mathura Alladi.

"They started training for [Saturday's] festivities about six months ago," Alladi said.

Born in Sri Lanka and raised in India, Chandirasegar, who intends to be a pediatrician, has been studying Indian classical dancing "since I was 3 years old," she said.

Subramanian has been [Indian] dancing since age 8.

"One of my favorites is the South Indian Bharathanatiyum dance, " Subramanian said.

According to Iyer, there are approximately 700 Indian families in the Jacksonville area. …

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