Close to 50,000 people came over three days Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, to enjoy ‘Chalo India 2018’ held at the New Jersey Expo Center in Edison, New Jersey, dancing and singing to the music into the early morning hours, savoring Indian food and shopping for Indian clothes and jewelry.
Organizers told Desi Talk the event was a “roaring success” considering it was the first Chalo India event hosted by the Association of Indian Americans in North America (AIANA), a non-profit which was founded in 2005, and began holding Chalo Gujarat festivals since 2006. Parikh Worldwide Media which brings out Desi Talk, was a media sponsor of the event. Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, was among several speakers including H.R. Shah, Padma Shri, founder of T.V. Asia. Also present were Mayor of Edison Tom Lankey, Congressman Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey; and Senator Sam Thompson, R-New Jersey.
In a live telecast, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani spoke from India and conveyed his message and good wishes on the opening day.
In an interview with Desi Talk, Sunil Naik, president of AIANA estimated that around 50,000 people from tri-state and beyond came to the festival. “We had almost 30 hours of performances on stage and some 140 of the performers came from outside America,” Nayak said. The first day it was 8 hours, the second day around 11 hours and the third day 12 hours,” Naik added.
The attempt this year was to include a wider audience and participation in the festivities. Nutan Kalamdani, media spokesperson for the event told Desi Talk, “Non-Gujarati attendees and performers came together to show the diversity of India and took us all back to India in this 3-day mega event.”
Proof of the event’s success was in the pudding, Kalamdani indicated. “Venue managers were telling us our time was up but we could not stop the enthusiastic audience which kept asking for encores into the wee hours of the morning. On Sunday night, we ended at 3 AM!” Kalamdani said.
Many attendees, including kids, took to the floor dancing garba, dandia, and singing the tunes. Food stalls and shopping areas were full, as were the various exhibits at the event.
There was a 30-foot replica of the Gateway of India in Mumbai; art installations including a colorful replica of the famous three wheeler rickshaw; a 30-foot map of India; a ‘5000 Years of India’ exhibit; a live puppet show – there appeared to be something for everyone.
Performances included the opening ceremony which Shubharambh Ganesh Vandana; a musical spectacle; a live video conference with spiritual leaders Morari Bapu, an expert on the Ram Charit Manas, and Swami Parmatmanand Saraswati; a multimedia presentation of the leaders of India during the freedom struggle, including Subhash Chandra Bose; a comedy show by Surendra Sharma; a talk show conducted by Jay Vasavada on the Eastern and Western obsession with superheroes; performance by the Nandu Group; Bollywood stories by Sanjay Chhel and Saumya Joshi; “Bollywood Masala” a musical journey of 100 years of Indian cinema; “Chalo JAM” live show by Riya, Dhruvish, Mirande, Ashka, Hiral Kirtidan, Bhavin, Osman, and Papon; poetry sessions; Kirtidan Gadhvi, considered the ‘voice of Gujarat’ delivered his musical extravaganza on the final day. And the list is not all-inclusive.
There was more to see and do. There were booths of Tourism Departments from several states: Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Assam, Goa, Andhra Pradesh; virtual reality/3D shows; Quiz on India kiosks, local artists performing from their regions of origin in India, like Madhumita Paul and Group performing a Bengali dance drama; Dhol Tasha by Jallosh, Navrang Dance Academy, Marathi Natya Sangeet by Hemant Kulkarni & Students; skits by artists from India, dance dramas by Arya Dance Academy in the U.S. and others from India.