ICC Builds Bridges Across Communities at Packed Cultural Event

By Parul Fernandes

HOUSTON: WOW!  WOW!! WOW!!!  The cultural show, “Building Bridges by celebrating Diwali” was a breathtaking show that the India Culture Center put up at  VPSS  Hall at 11175  W. Belfort Village Drive. What a show and what a unifying concept of Building Bridges! Asian countries like Vietnam, Philippines and China participated because they too want to build bridges with Indians through culture. The Consul General of India, Aseem Mahajan; Deputy Consul General of Vietnam Lai Thai Binh; Mayor of Stafford Cecil Willis Jr.; Council Member of Stafford Alice Chen and Ft Bend County Court 3 Judge Juli Mathew graced the occasion with their presence

“Everyone thinks that only engineers build bridges, but that is not true,” said  ICC President Jasmeeta Singh. “Cultural organizations play a vital part  in  building bridges among people of different groups. At India Culture Center, when the idea of doing something different and unique was thought of, we thought about our neighbors from different countries and how ignorant we were of each others’ cultures.”

Also, since it is the month of Diwali for the Indian Diaspora.  In America – the land of immigrants – it is very important that we live peacefully while maintaining our identity.  Therefore, it is important to participate in cross-cultural celebrations. As Parul Fernandes Event Chair said, “What is Culture?  Culture is the way we live- we dance and sing and eat and speak and celebrate our festivals.  Culture is the way of life.”

The program was an immense success because before the actual cultural program started there were vendors selling jewelry, clothes and other wares.  There was also a beautiful Rangoli done on the floor at the entrance by Yogina Patel, a traditional Indian welcome design. Partnering organizations also got a chance to present themselves, and Indian Seniors Citizens Association received an award.

The show started with Bindis and Bangles Fashion Show, depicting the modern dresses that Indians wear today, choreographed by Jasmeeta Singh, followed by Tiny tots, ages 4-10 dancing to choreography by Arzan Gonda, Executive Director of Rhythm India dance school and the famous action packed Vietnamese Lion Dance choreographed by Alex Tran.  The Lion Dance even went into the audience, which was thrilled to see them at close quarters.

Interspersed with Indian dances from Aditi Dance Sensation and Swagata Dance School by Maumita Chaudhary, was Sheralin Salas’ Pilipino dance called Pandanggo Sa Ilaw.  Interspersed by Nrtyakalpana Dance group by Kalpana Bora, Shivangini Academy by Shiv Mathur, and Kathak Beats by Manjusha Jadhav was  Chinese Eastern Pearls Community Associations elegant and poised display, all female troupe of performers.  Rhythm India had another group of older dancers who did Bollywood style dancing bringing the fast beat in our hearts. The 5-hour program and show ended with Divyaa Unni’s Sreepadam Performing Arts dancers and the upbeat vigorous Garba dance by Deep Patel and group.

Thanks goes to the Houston Arts Alliance and City of Houston for partially funding the program.  Thanks also goes to VPSS, Rasesh Dalal and Nimish Seth, ICC Event co- chair, for logistics.

No doubt that the ICC team comprising of Gaurav Javeri, Pavanna Gadde, Hemant Patel, Dr Falguni Gandhi, Praful Gandhi, Lachhsman Das, Girish bhai, Dr. Upadhaya, Nirmalaji and Shobhana along with many other volunteers contributed their time and energy to assisting the ICC President Jasmeeta Singh and Event Chair Parul Fernandes to showcase the Building Bridges concept.   The ICC hopes to continue their efforts with “Building Bridges” in the coming years as it believes strongly in the concept, “One World, One Family”