Donna Duperron extends congratulations to the Sri Panchamukha Hanuman Temple and Religious Academy at their grand event, Jai Ho – 77th Indian Independence Celebration.

This past Saturday, I attended Jai Ho which is a cultural extravaganza that showcases the rich tapestry of Indian traditions and brings together various communities to celebrate unity, diversity, and independence.  Sri Panchamukha Hanuman Temple and Religious Academy, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and promoting Indian culture and heritage hosted the event. 

As I entered the festival grounds, I paused to look at the magnificent colors, the vendors who were showcasing Indian clothing, jewelry and accessories and the Indian food booths from various regions. I was welcomed by Madhusudan Chanani, board of director, who in turn introduced me to Narasimhacharya Cherukupally, permanent founder director, Chairman and Chief in priest. Also welcoming me were executive committee members Venkat Gopalan and President Kavitha Venkatraman.

The Parade of States was beginning on stage; therefore, I was escorted to my seat to watch the performances. There are currently 28 states and 8 Union territories in India.  Each state has a unique demography, history, and culture, dress, festivals, and language. 

Dance performances and musical recitals provided a colorful mosaic of India’s artistic heritage. After each state was introduced, a short history or an important fact was provided. Younger children, who were often showcased, displayed their talents by singing, dancing, or speaking.  During several of the performances, audience members joined in by singing or by clapping. As the performances concluded the National Anthems from the United States and India were sung.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the performances, I was told that my experience wasn’t complete.  Councilmember Sharon Kalani and I were escorted to the food vendors to sample authentic food of South India.  We were given a beautiful plate of Dosa which is a crepe made from a fermented batter consisting of lentils and rice.  It originated in South India where it has been enjoyed for many centuries.  Served with chutney and sambar, there were times my eyes watered from the spices, but it was delicious.

Another tradition I learned about while visiting the festival was Mehndi, otherwise known as henna, a paste associated with positive spirits and good luck.  Indian Wedding tradition calls for a Mehndi ceremony to be held the night before the wedding as a way of wishing the bride good health and prosperity as she makes her journey to marriage.  I had a beautiful flower with leaves painted on each hand.

The three hours I spent at Jai Ho will be an experience I will remember for a long time.  From the mesmerizing dance performances to the rich tapestry of traditions, to the authentic Indian cuisine, this cultural celebration will be one that I remember for a long time. I am appreciative to the leadership and Board of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman Temple and Religious Academy for your kind invitation to attend Jai Ho.

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