BY BARRY WARNER
The India Cultural Society of Rockland (ICSR) is instrumental in promoting the culture and heritage of India through various events, such as the 2017 India Festival and India Day Parade.
The ICSR has been devotedly keeping the torch of the culture of India alive in the tri-state area since 1972. It is a non-profit organization developed by the late Dr. Rajavaidya, representing over 500 families of Indian origin in the counties of Rockland, Orange, Westchester and parts of New Jersey.
The objectives of ICSR are to promote a better understanding by providing the exchange of information about India, programming literary activities and holding special events, including:
- ‘Weaving the cultural fabric’-Vasant Utsav (spring celebration), Holi (festival of colors) and Navratri Raas Garba (festival of dance in honor of Goddess Durga plus Diwali (festival of lights).
- Giving back to the community through soup kitchens, food and clothing drives; senior trips; recreational therapy sessions; and health fairs.
- Promoting talent and camaraderie by engaging in cultural shows, art shows, picnics and recognizing graduating seniors.
“For the past 16 years, it has been a pleasure for me to be part of ICSR, a melting pot of Indian culture in the tri-state area,” India Cultural Society of Rockland President Charu Krishan told the Rockland County Times. “In 2017, I accepted to lead this rapidly growing family into its 45th year. I’m grateful to our past presidents for laying a solid foundation for me to tread on and trust my abilities as the youngest president in the history of ICSR. It’s certainly not easy to juggle home, work and community service, and here we are, once again, with an exciting line-up of events, securing sponsors and building rapport with community leaders.”
“When I was fresh off the boat from India back in 2001 with my husband and a 6-month-old daughter in tow, I was excited but anxious for being uprooted from my cultural comfort zone in India,” Krishan continued. “My apprehensions were laid to rest in ICSR. I was assured that America would let me be a proud Indian, and for that, she will always have my allegiance and affection. Every time I come home from an ICSR event, I willingly fade into this amorphous sense of belonging to the country I was born in and to the one I call home. It is where we celebrate the effortlessly assimilative and inclusive nature of American culture.”
“My goals for ICSR this year can be summarized into the word ‘preservation’,” Krishan said. “In line with this goal, we’re working alongside a formal ICSR Youth Wing. The idea and purpose is to provide these 10th-12th graders with a platform to actively contribute towards the organization, while generating a stronger sense of belonging to ICSR and Indian culture in general. This will also serve as an opportunity to grow and develop as leaders and team workers, and collect community service hours. The most important step will be the continuation of our popular programs by increasing our attendance at the India Festival on September 30 in Nanuet, the India Day Parade on August 19 in New City and ‘The East Meets West Dance Program’ at Rockland Community College on October 21.”
The India Festival will take place Saturday, September 30 from 12-5 p.m. at the Smith Street ‘Park ‘N Ride’ area located at the intersection of Route 59 and Route 304 in Nanuet. Highlights will include crowning Ms. India Rockland in the first beauty pageant for youth; an iconic fashion show showing glimpses of India; informative workshops for traditional Indian techniques including block-printing and Batik; retail booths with ethnic clothing, jewelry and accessories on sale; on-the-spot dance lessons; a lively cultural program including vocal and instrumental music plus classical and contemporary dances; recognizing and honoring of Police Departments, Fire Departments, Veterans plus Rockland County Superintendents and High School Principals; as well as free rides, games and cotton candy for children. Delicious food will be for sale from vendors including naan bread (pita bread), chole masala (a vegetarian dish with chickpeas and tomatoes), samosa (a fried turnover with a filling of spiced potatoes and onions) paneer makhani (Indian cheese simmered in a creamy tomato gravy) and chicken curry.
The India Day Parade will occur on Saturday, August 19 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Marchers will assemble at the New City Library at 10:30 a.m. and then proceed to the Rockland Courthouse for a flag hoisting at 11:30 a.m. Traditional clothes worn by women may include colorful Sarees (colorful garments consisting of cotton or silk elaborately draped around the body) and men may wear a West Bengali Dhoti Kurta (A Dhoti is a cloth piece from the waist down and a Kurta is a cloth draped over the shoulder).