An India Festival organized by the Indian Association of Greater Athens, Georgia, a discussion on Vikas Swarup's book Q&A which formed the basis for the Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, and yoga and Indian dance
demonstrations were among the programs of the March 25-April 3 India Week at the University of Georgia at Athens sponsored by Asha-UGA.
Student-run Asha-UGA is a chapter of Asha for Education at the university. Asha for Education is a secular, nonprofit organization that helps provide education to underprivileged children in India.
The week, which was organized by the chapter to promote awareness of Indian culture in UGA and the Athens community and raise funds, started with the screening of a Bollywood movie--Sholay. Teachers from the Art of Living
Foundation in Atlanta conducted meditation and yoga sessions. In the book discussion, the Friends of India book club members joined UGA students in exploring international perceptions of the themes presented in the movie.
A lecture on "India and Public Health" was hosted by the UGA office of International Public Service and Outreach. The lecture was also a fund-raiser for Asha and it generated more than $2000, according Puja Chebrolu, an Asha-UGA organizer.
In the dance lessons Bhangra, Bharatha natyam fusion, and Bollywood dances were taught to those interested. People were also invited to play Kho-Kho, kabbaddi and carom.
The India festival - Indian Mela 2009--was the Indian association's 'first ever India festival on a large scale,' Nina Desai, an Indian association organizer, said. The association was launched last year. ³We have always had a celebration of events like Diwali, Holi picnic and pujas in Athens on a small scale, but in the past few years the Indian community has grown so much that we needed some organization and structure.We also wanted to integrate our heritage and traditions in the mainstream community," she explained as to the reason why the association was established. At the Mela venue a number of booths were set up vendors of Indian dishes and jewelry and other gift items, as also nonprofit and service groups.
"This mela gave small businesses and non-profit organizations a big opportunity to present themselves on a big platform," Desai said.