Indian painters, musicians, dancers and professors gathered to showcase their culture at the Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron campus on Thursday night.
The Miami Association of Indian Americans for Culture and Arts partnered with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Committee to put on the event. They have a shared mission to bring cultural awareness and education about Asia to the South Florida community, according to MDC professor and co-chair of AAPI Adrianne Aiko Thompson.
“The goal is just to bring awareness about the contributions of Asian-Americans, to share the culture and to open up a forum for questions,” Thompson said as she explained that Asia has a richness of diversity as the largest region in the world. The mission of the two groups is to spread awareness of that diversity.
Thompson and the co-founder of MAIACA, Vinita Chakravarta, work together on the Asian American Advisory Board, an advocacy group that advises Miami-Dade commissioners on the Asian and Pacific Islander population in Miami-Dade.
The night began with a “Puja,” a Hindu prayer ritual, led by University of Miami Professor Parsu Parasuraman. Parasuraman gave an educational but playful demonstration as he took the audience through the ritual of making offerings to the idol of Lord Ganesha, the God of obstacles.
Afterwards, Kavita Jayaraman played traditional Indian music on the Veena, an ancient string instrument, and was accompanied by Rohit Warier playing a drum-like instrument called a Mridangam. They played two songs, including “Vaishna Vajanato”, which was known to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite, according to Jayaraman.
As the room filled with the scent of incense from the previous ritual, the crowd clapped in time to the rhythm and some sang along to the words.
They continued to do so as the next performance began, a traditional Indian dance by a group of young women and then a dance by their instructors from the Dil Se dance academy.
The crowd was then directed to the campus art gallery for the opening of Indian painter Indranil Ghosh’s art exhibition, “COLOR — Cultural Origin: Loving, Observing and Reflecting.”
“Culture is not only dressing up, dancing to a tune… The other day I saw a small caricature, it was so nice- It said culture is an iceberg, we only see the tip of it, and there are so many things underneath it we don’t see,” Ghosh said.
From there, the crowd lined up outside the final event, where the local restaurant Taste Buds of India were catering and dance instructor Rima Arora led a “Bollywood dance” workshop.