Published August 15, 2006
Volume 14, Number 8

Library, Indian Group to Present Cultural Exchange Program

Thanks to a $25,000 Cultural Crossroads grant from the California State Library, the Pleasanton Public Library and East Bay Marathi Mandal are joining forces over the next year to present a series of events showcasing Indian culture in all its manifestations.

“We are organizing various events around Pleasanton such as food shows, fashion shows, dance festivals, music festivals, talks on art and architecture, current economic growth, and everything possible that can represent India, ” says Varsha Upadhye of East Bay Marathi Mandal, a local group which promotes the culture of the Indian state of Maharashtra. “We are going to make sure that we represent the country as a whole, and not just our region.”

“We will be examining the many ways that the Indian community has enriched Pleasanton,” adds Penny Johnson of the Pleasanton Public Library. “Desi is slang for a person of Indian origin, and desh is slang for the land of India. We will be exploring ‘The Makings of a Spicy Desi/Spicy Desh!’ throughout the school year.”

The program’s events kick off on Saturday, September 9 from 3:30 to 7:00 p.m. with a food festival, “The Exotic Spices of India: The Makings of an Authentic Spicy Desi!”

Food writers Laxmi Hiremath and Lachu Moorjani will be on hand to discuss the unique use of spices and regional variations in Indian cuisine, with samples of food from different states of India available for purchase and tasting.

Other scheduled events include: The Indian Immigrant Woman In America, Sunday, October 22nd, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.—This event consists of a panel discussion of the joys and frustrations of being a South Asian woman in America and dealing with issues such as arranged marriage, career challenges, surviving a child’s American adolescence, new opportunities, isolation, and complications resulting from immigration. Featured speakers include author Padma Shandas; Sarah Khan, director of Maitri, a local non-profit that works with families from South Asia; and medical researcher Sunita Puri.

Growing Up Bi-Cultural, Saturday, October 28, 3:30 to 7:00 p.m.—This program, for teens only, begins with a teen panel discussion led by author Mitali Perkins on growing up bi-cultural in America and finishes with a Bollywood dance lesson and pizza party.

The series continues with a number of events next year, including an Indian fashion show featuring both traditional garb from the country’s various regions and haute couture by Swati Kapoor; a fusion jazz concert by George Brooks in which Indian instruments will be used in a contemporary setting; a Hindi film festival featuring a number of Bollywood films, along with speaker Dr. Vamsee Juluri, a University of San Francisco professor; a spoken word/storytelling performance by Shailja Patel; a panel discussion with Indian authors including Samina Ali and Sandip Roy; and ongoing monthly story times in Hindi and other languages for preschool children.

Also of interest is an adult seminar series which will take place on the fourth Thursday of each month, beginning in January, on topics such as India’s Contributions to Astronomy, The Tech-Boom of Bangalore, Ancient Culture/Ancient Medicine, Architecture and Temples of India, and India’s Natural Beauty.

For additional information on the Library’s programs, contact Penny Johnson of the Pleasanton Public Library at (925) 931-3405. Information is also available on the East Bay Marathi Mandal web site at www.ebmm.org.


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