Town Center becomes a Village Square Full of Garba Revelers

By Jawahar Malhotra

SUGAR LAND: Over the past decade, the South Asian community has grown so much in the Greater Houston area and is so spread out that there are dense pockets of desis scattered all across the region. But none rival the community that lives in Ft Bend county, and especially in Sugar Land.

Town Center Plaza, across from City Hall, has become the cornerstone of many desi functions and this Diwali season, a new and large event turned the venue into a fun-filled Indian village square.

As evening descended, the plaza filled up with revelers drawn by the rhythmic beating of the dhol and drums and singers perched at the top of City Hall stairs. Behind them stood the royal blue sign for Mahesh’s Kitchen, the organizer of the Diwali Dandiya mela, which brought in over 2,000 people to the Plaza, which was cordoned off by short white fencing. The sound system was pitch perfect and resounded across the plaza and beyond.

hubhangi Musale (center) beside her husband Nilesh , sons Akash & Nilesh and members of the organizing team before the Dandiya Garba began on Saturday, October 22 at Sugar Land Town Center

The private, but free event, had the Mahesh’s Kitchen food booth serving delicious veg and non-veg dishes as well as beer and wine, and merchandise booths lined the entrances. As people in bright Indian outfits entered, they picked up dandiya and stepped into the tiled and Astro-turfed area to get into their dance strides. Pretty soon, the whole plaza was just a sea of swirling dancers, all keeping beat, twirling, and snapping their dandiyas.

Not to be left out, there was face painting and henna for kids and prizes for the best dressed male and female as well as the best dancer. A trio of bhangra dancers gave an energizing performance

This unique event was the brainchild of Shubhangi Musale, the owner of Mahesh’s Kitchen ­- located just a block away from the plaza – who worked hard to make sure that it became a gathering that showcased the culture and heritage of India.

Although the restaurant opened only 14 months ago, Shubhangi has poured her passion for cooking into building up a reputation for good food. She says she owes it all to her late brother Mahesh, for whom the restaurant is named, who was studying at the Cordon Bleu in Paris to become a chef.  “It was our dream to open this. Everyday I come here, I feel close to him”, says Shubhangi who misses Mahesh even four years later, “We made sure that the décor is in his favorite colors: yellow and royal blue.”