Long Island celebrates India Fest 2012

Native Indian dancers in colorful costume provided entertainment

Native Indian dancers in colorful costume provided entertainment for the thousands of visitors at Indiafest at the Hilton Hotel in Melville. This year's Indiafest 2012 will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge. (Aug. 3, 2008) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

There's more to India than Bollywood.

The culture, cuisine and fashion of the world's second-most-populous nation and largest democracy will be on display this weekend in Nassau and Suffolk. At India Fest 2012 in Hauppauge, you can see the latest Indian fashions, taste Indian food and shop for ethnic clothing and accessories.

Also this weekend, for the first time, an India Day Parade will be held on Long Island, followed by a street fair full of entertainment and Indian merchandise.

 

A GROWING COMMUNITY

The events spotlight one of Long Island's fastest-growing ethnic communities, organizers say. Rajeshwar Prasad, past president and co-founder of the India Association of Long Island, which sponsors India Fest, says Long Island's Indian-American population has grown since he moved here in 1971. "Now we are close to 80,000 Indian-Americans in Nassau and Suffolk," he says. "When I moved here, there were 700 individuals."

 

THE CULTURE

India Fest itself is growing so much that the organizers needed to spread out in a larger venue for this year's event, says chairwoman Beena Kothari of Dix Hills. Last year's attendance was 10,000, and this year more visitors are expected to enjoy the sights and sounds of the subcontinent.

"This is certainly a rich ethnic celebration," Kothari says.

Visitors can immerse themselves in Indian culture, including arts and crafts (oil paintings and decorative wall hangings), music, spirituality and popular entertainment.

One expected guest is Manu Narayan, an American-born actor and singer of Indian descent.

 

THE FASHION

A 45-minute fashion show will feature a dozen professional runway models wearing Asian-fusion and contemporary clothing, says Kitty Jain, owner of Rose Boutique USA in Hicksville. The show includes gowns, evening wear and a collection of Indian wedding dresses. Some items will come from a shipment of clothing showcased in Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi, the world's biggest Asian fashion event.

 

THE FOOD

Buy your favorite Indian treat at food stations and munch it in the hotel cocktail area. The menu by Copper Wok in Hicksville ($10 a plate) includes appetizers such as Samosa Chaat (a turnover with potatoes, peas and other veggies) and entrees like chicken tikka masala. For dessert: jalebi sweets and mango lassi shakes.

 

India Fest 2012

WHEN | WHERE Noon-9 p.m., Sunday, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Hauppauge

INFO 631-586-1579, ialiny.org

ADMISSION Free

 

India Day Parade and Festival

WHEN | WHERE Parade, 1 p.m. Saturday at Patel Brothers Plaza, Broadway and Ludy Street, Hicksville; cultural festival, 3-7 p.m. Saturday, LIRR parking lot 6, off East Barclay Street, Hicksville

INFO 718-640-6785, idpusa.org

ADMISSION Free

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