Incredible Fun with I(ncredible)CC India Fest!


From left: Nisha Mirani, Sapna Shah, Sanjay Sohoni, Falguni Gandhi, Parul Fernandes, Pramod Bengani, Meera Kapur, Charlie Patel, Swapan Dhairyawan, Rajiv Bhavsar, Ajit Patel and Dr K D Upadhyaya at the India Fest by India Culture Center on Saturday, August 20 at Stafford Center.


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STAFFORD: It looks like the organizers have found the sweet spot for festival goers, if the attendance for last weekend’s India Fest organized by the India Culture Center is any gauge. Start after lunch, have plenty of local talent participation and then let it flow seamlessly through the early evening and close in enough time for people to go elsewhere. And what a difference it has made to the last three flagship events that form the bulk of the ICC’s efforts year long. By the midafternoon, the entire hall was packed and amidst a constant stream of people going through the day-long event.

The festival wouldn’t have been as successful had it not been for the team effort chaired by ICC Director Pramod Bengani and the planning that started two months earlier. Altogether, 52 booths were sold out in the 10 days before the event with Coordinator Charlie Patel and Ajit Patel pushing the effort while Coordinator Swapan Dhairyawan  and Nisha Mirani pulled together a colorful 36-page Tarang keepsake souvenir.


From left: ICC President Rajiv Bhavsar, Indian Consul General Anupam Ray, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

A “Mom, Dad & Me” talent contest (coordinated by Keka Kar and sponsored by Xfinity Comcast) gave a chance for the entire family to present dance, music or instrumental skills with a cash prize going to winner Soma Ghosh and her family. The Essay Competition had over 28 contestants in age group 6 to21years (Coordinator Parul Fernandes). Meanwhile, the “Weaves of India” sari wrapping segment (sponsored by Sling TV and coordinated by Sangeeta Pasrija and Sangita Dua) showcased 10 women in the styles of the different States of India. The Geography and History Quiz (Co-ordinated by Sanjay Sohoni) at the ICC booth in the lobby was swamped with kids who were excited to answer questions to win cookies and chocolates.

The event began with the National Anthem sung by Paarth Maniar after which emcees Pratik Mirani and Neera Patel took over. There were welcome speeches by Pramod Bengani and ICC President Rajiv Bhavsar, followed by speeches by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella; Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen; Sugar Land Protem Mayor Himesh Gandhi and Councilman Harish Jajoo; and Indian Consul General Anupam Ray. Proclamations came from the offices Texas Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Al Green, Houston City Controller Chris Brown and the Ft. Bend Trustees.


“Weaves of India” sari wrapping segment

The program included a Community Service Award to SEWA International for their exemplary service; a Recognition Award given to Rebecca Hathorn from the Stafford Civic Centre and recognition of the Safety Officers of the City of Houston, Stafford, Sugar Land and Missouri City.

The Cultural program featured an extravaganza of 26 dances, 2 skits and a Choir  – all told over 280 kids, teens and adults performing on the stage with an outsized LED display constantly running video behind them; a record participation for the ICC. It included performances by the Bollywood Dancing Stars, Sunanda Performing Arts, Anjali Center, Laaya Dance Group, Kalakriti Performing Arts, TAAL Group, TYAGI Group, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Group, Kathak Kala Kendra, skit from Indian Muslims Association of Greater Houston and JVB Preksha Center, Houston Brethren, Bollywood Shake, Kala Kunj, VVM, Woodlands Garba Group, Infused Performing Arts, Bollywood Shake, US Desi Galz, HH Creationz, Sparsh Group, Telugu Dance Group and a choir from Tagore Society of Houston. This jam packed colorful cultural segment was coordinated by Swapan Dhairyawan, Nisha Mirani and Sapna Shah.

And wrapping it up was a musical segment of Bollywood hits from local young artist Serene Kaggal, which was an instant hit. Not to be forgotten was the expert handling of the AV and sound systems by Darshak and Mona Thacker of Krishna Sounds and photography by Raghu Thakkar.