Greenbelt, Maryland – Indian Americans brought their heritage to life with Indian dance traditions and cultural presentations as the newly arrived Indian Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla graced the occasion of Republic Day celebrations here. The top Indian diplomat in the US was introduced by Sikhs of America Chairman Jesse Singh. The event was hosted by the National Council of Asian Indian Associations (NCAIA) and many other organizations participated.
Echoing “Unity in Diversity,” – an underlying theme of India, the largest democracy in the world – the performances included four varied dances from four corners of India as well as an Indian patriotic song.
Yakshagana, a folk dance from Karnataka, a Southern Indian state, was performed by Nithish Sridhar Murthy and Anagha Sreenivas. The duo wore colorful costumes and performed vigorous dance movements with subtle expressions to lively music.
From Gujarat, the Western shores of India and where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister for years, came a melody of different local dances including traditional Hudo and Raas. Shuchi Buch, Purvi Hathi, Prachi Desai and Shetal Pandya represented Taal Academy of Dance in a performance, holding diyas (lamps) shining in the darkness.
Lavani, an enticing combination of traditional folk song and dance, performed with expertise by Dipti Bendigers was amazing as she gyrated to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument. The origin of the folk dance is from Maharashtra which has Bombay, the financial capital of India as one of its main cities.
The most mesmerizing and captivating performance was Bihu dance by Mitali Bharadwaj, a trained Kathak and Bihu dancer, with over 20 years of experience in Bihu dance. Bihu is a popular folk dance associated with the North Indian state of Assam in India and it is performed generally during the Bihu festival.
Sharing her thoughts about the dance, Bharadwaj told IAT: “The energetic dance steps and quick hand movements define the Bihu dance of Assam,” stressing that a traditional Bihu performance is “eye catching and worth cherishing as it recites the happiness and heritage of the Assamese people.”
To add national color and patriotism to the Motherland India for Indian citizens attending, a patriotic song “Dil diya hain jaan bhi denge ae vatan tere liye,” was performed by WADAA (Washington DC Assamese Association) group comprising of Anjana Bordoloi, Alpana Barua, Arundhotee Goswami, Anurag Barua, Rajiv Barua, Robin Goswami and Vikas Barua.
Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Shringla – who arrived in the US on January 9 and presented credentials at the White House to President Donald Trump on January 11 – commended the Indian American community for cementing the bonds between two democracies. In this strengthening of bilateral relationships, the ambassador highlighted the role played by “the Indian American community.”
Other speakers included NCAIA Chairman Suresh K. Gupta and the organization’s President Pavan Bezwada.
Among the other prominent attendees were Kelly Schulz, Maryland Secretary of Commerce and Steven McAdams, Executive Director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of India Santosh Jha also attended.