Indian Association’s Diwali event slated

Past and present. Traditional and modern.

Eleven-year-old Ronit Jha and four of his young friends aim to blend those elements in a dance performance as one of nearly 30 cultural acts at the Indian Association of Columbus’ annual Diwali celebration. The festive, cultural event is slated from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Columbus North High School’s Judson Erne Auditorium, including a traditional Indian meal served at the school.

“You don’t have to be shy when there are so many other people who will be performing,” said the youngster, adding that he loves to highlight Indian culture.

The event is the association’s largest on a calendar that includes Summer Fest entertainment at Mill Race Park, cricket competitions and a range of other sports and activities.

About 100 tickets remain for the gathering that in recent years has attracted a full house of nearly 1,100 people.

Diwali technically refers to the Hindu festival of lights. But the local gathering excludes the religious link in favor of a more broad, cultural interpretation.

“It’s way of bringing together everyone,” said Prem Jha, event chairman for the second straight year.

Everyone means India natives, locals and anyone else interested, according to the coordinator.

Norbert Nusterer, president for Cummins Inc. Power Systems, and Srikanth Padmanabhan, president for Cummins Engine Business, will be special guests.

Diwali has grown locally over the years.

It began as a small celebration at Parkside Elementary School. It moved to the auditorium at Southside Elementary School, then to the auditorium at Columbus East High School, and finally to North.

Prem Jha mentioned that although organizers would like to see the event continue to grow, they wouldn’t want to offer two performances or two meals since part of the concept is togetherness of the Indian community and guests.

“It really gives us a sense of home,” said Krishna Rampalli, association president.

The meal will include biryani, an Indian mixed rice dish, and an Indian oven-baked flatbread known as naan.

Athough the event builds cultural awareness and friendships, it also builds a sense of maturity especially in the young performers, Rampalli said.

“It gives them a wonderful opportunity to show their talent in front of hundreds or more people,” Rampalli said. “And really, it helps motivate them to grow up and mature.”

Join the celebration

What: The Indian Association of Columbus’ annual celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights. The gathering includes traditional and modern cultural performances (music, dance and more), and also a traditional Indian meal.

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 15th St. in Columbus.

Admission:

  • Tickets are available at the Facebook page of Indian Association of Columbus
  • Adults (12 and older): Performance and dinner, $20. Performance only, $13.
  • Children (5 to 11): Performance and dinner, $15. Performance only, $10.
  • Children younger than age 5 are admitted free.

Information: Facebook page at Indian Association of Columbus and at the website, iac-columbus.org.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.