Scope will be transformed Saturday when the 18th annual India Fest takes over and converts the large, open canvas of space into a shimmering cacophony of colors, lights, sounds and exotic smells.
Admission is free, but donations of non-perishable or canned goods will be accepted by the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia.
The festival is put on by the Asian Indians of Hampton Roads (AIHR), a non-profit organization that is involved with local fundraising and charity events throughout the year, as well as international goodwill efforts such as the International Children’s Festival, a joint program with the World Affairs Council.
Raji Kaloji, a chairperson on the AIHR cultural committee who moved to the United States with her husband in 1995, said her favorite part of the festival is sharing the music and dance of her culture.
“Indian music and classical Indian dance are thousands of years old and have been passed down through many generations,” Kaloji said.
“The music, the costumes, the intricate dance steps are fascinating… Bollywood dance is my other favorite style, which is a more modern version of dance.”
There will be food. There will be dancing. There will be lots of live music and performances, costume photos, a free hourly raffle, face painting and henna, vendors selling authentic Indian clothes and jewelry, a fashion show, and a yoga demonstration.
“Food sampling will also be a new thing we are trying this year,” said Himangshu Dey, vice president of AIHR and chairman of India Fest. “We will be sampling one or two Indian delicacies during a designated time window.” Such delicacies include authentic Indian dishes like chicken tikka, naan, kathi rolls, biryani and dosa. A limited number of samples will be available on a first-come, first-served basis .
New attractions are added to the program annually to keep the festival fresh and encourage more people to attend, said Dey.
This year, they will be debuting a Lego building competition and an international showcase that will focus on a particular region each year, which they will be kickstarting with the Pacific Islander American Group of Virginia.
This will be the festival’s third year at Scope. It was moved from the Old Dominion University campus after steadily increasing in popularity and participation. Last year’s event drew nearly 5,000 people.
“We expect 10,000 people this year,” said Dey, who based his projections upon the increased funding for publicity and community response.
Sponsors for the event (and AIHR) include TowneBank, BB&T, Sentara, Wells Fargo, Centuria Corp., and WHRO. Each year, a team composed of AIHR committee members decides how much money to allot for the annual India Fest.
For more information, visit www.aihr.org.
Nicole Alvarado, 757-222-5829, email@example.com