A taste of India in Bakersfield

Maryann Kopp

The Indian Association of San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield hosted Festival of India at Stramler Park on Sept. 22, where the trees were adorned with myriad lengths of fabric tied in bows.
Booths included clothing vendors, eyebrow threading by Patel’s Henna and Threading Salon, face painting, and traditional Indian cuisine.
Music from India sounded throughout, which was highlighted by “high energy” dancing performances put on by children, who choreographed some of the routine themselves.
There was also a raffle, and prizes were awarded periodically throughout the festival. The children were mostly occupied with a bounce house, a large inflatable slide, a beanbag toss, and a table where they could win fish from games played.
The turnout was considerable, and festival-goer Aliva Marcelo, spoke for many when she said, “I am having a really good time. I mostly came out here to eat and to experience the culture.”
Another attendee, Cody Jenkins, was impressed with the mango lassi, among other authentic Indian foods, and how the lassi helped to cool him off after eating some very spicy dishes.
Committee member Dhaval Buch explained how the festival came about and why. “The Indian Association of the San Joaquin Valley is a non-profit organization,” Buch began. “Membership is open to whoever wants to be a part of it, and we have an annual membership fee that helps to fund festivals like this one. We also look for sponsors, so the booths are sponsored by the owners of the respective stores and restaurants. “Committee members are all volunteers. We are all professionals and are busy with our lives and our families and careers, and we do this on the side as part of a service to the community to help spread awareness in regards to our culture and traditions, which are becoming very diluted.”
Buch also explained that the traditional dances were from varying parts of India, and that they usually took place during the harvesting and spring seasons, and was thus incorporated into the festivities.