Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers proclaimed Aug .15, 2019 as ‘India Day’ in Wisconsin, following which IndiaFest was celebrated in Milwaukee Aug. 17, this year. Former Governor Scott Walker had also declared made a similar declaration in 2018.
“IndiaFest Milwaukee is the largest celebration of India Day in the State of Wisconsin…,” said Gov. Evers according to a press release from Spindle India which is main organizer of the annual event. Gov. Evers also noted that in addition to celebrating Indian culture, IndiaFest Milwaukee “provides a platform for collaboration, connection, education and growth by providing a space for cultural exchange and appreciation; and promotes diversity, inclusion, community, culture and education in Milwaukee by establishing a broad and collective appreciation of India Day, Indian culture and the Indian community.”
Former Gov. Walker also praised the efforts put into IndiaFest which has been going on for five years, and said it brings communities together by going, “beyond cultures, boundaries, languages, religions and regions.” Walker praised contributions of Indian-Americans to the culture, educational and economic fabric of the state of Wisconsin.
The event is also supported by the State’s Department of Tourism.
Mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett commended Spindle India, Inc. & IndiaFest Milwaukee for dedicated service and leadership, recognized its outstanding contributions to the community and proclaimed Aug 15th, 2019 as India Day in Milwaukee, the press release said.
United States Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., issued a certificate of appreciation presented to Spindle India, Inc., recognizing the 7th Annual IndiaFest Milwaukee, saying, “Thank you for your continued dedication and efforts to bring visibility to the Indian Community of Milwaukee.”
“All the acknowledgements and recognitions are tremendous milestones and proud moment for every member of South Asian Indian population in Wisconsin and beyond,” said Founder, Chairwoman, and President of Spindle India, Inc., Purnima Nath. “We are weaving happiness, as we bring people and organizations together. Our goal is to weave India’s colorful cultural threads into the rich multicultural tapestry of American culture,” Nath added. She noted the diversity of India and said it was reflected in IndiaFest.
“Diversity is the blood of globalism. Inclusiveness is the mantra of acceptance,” Nath is quoted saying in the press release, adding that education was an important aspect for the growing number of Indian families in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
The event was jumpstarted with a flaghoisting to observe India’s independence day and the national anthem of India was sung by Children of the Hindi School of Wisconsin. Joseph Scala, an Appleton resident, sang the American anthem.
Patriotic Songs and Dances by Children
More than 210 people took part in the cultural program participants which continued for 10 hours and more, according to organizers.
Other activities included henna painting, jewelry, clothing, authentic cuisine and special children’s entertainment; 3 back-to-back concerts by well-known artists including classical music by santoor maestro Nanda Kishore Muley, with Indrajot Banerjee in Sitar, accompanied by Gouri Sankar Karmakar on Tabla; a fusion performance blending eastern and western instruments by Wahh Fusion Band with Shankh Lahiri (Tabla), Peter Mongaya (Guitar), Jason McKenzie (Drums), Seth Lynn (bass), Indrajit Banerjee (Sitar); and finally, a Bollywood Hungama show by DJ Dharak.
In the 2nd “IFM Got Talent” the Nikita Singhal team of children age 5 to 13 years, which presented a ‘Cultural Diversity of India’ theme, grabbed the 1st prize; Susan Abraham at 2nd place; and Ananya Rasal scoring the 3rd prize. Vinu Saravana, Neha Patil, Manu Saravana won 1st, 2nd & 3rd prize in the children category in 5th Wisconsin Indian Singing Idol. Faiz Ahmad won 1st prize, followed by Manoj Tripathi and Ravi Nandan in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, in the adult category.
In children category of 4th Wisconsin Indian Dancing Idol, Aishwarya School of dance group grabbed both 1st & 2nd prizes, following the team of Sirisha Kota at 3rd prize. Manpreet Kaur & team and Ria Lahoti & team won 1st and 2nd in youth category team respectively.
Ramesh Kindre & team, Bubusuhas Mullaveedu & team, Bhaktilata Sahoo & team scored 1st, 2nd & 3rd prize, respectively, in the adult category.
Supriya Vidwan, Kavita Tawadare and Bhanu Lavanya Arasada were the judges for Singing competitions and Meera Viruru, Drisya Raghuram and Anu Kelkar judged the dance competitions. Second year in a row, “Nepal” was featured at IFM2019 prominently, through cultural representations and exhibition.
The IFM2015 which launched DJ K, saw him back in Milwaukee all the way from San Francisco, to support IFM2019.
Bollywood dance was the most popular at the festivities.
Authentic Indian cuisine was another highlight at the day-long event.
Play area, children’s activities, bouncy house, arts and craft area surrounded the field, all planned and executed by youth volunteers under the supervision of adults.
This year’s IFM2019 was supported by State Bank of Chilton, Trayix, Travel Wisconsin, Visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin Public Radio, India Garden, Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin, Inc., Wisdom Infotech, ABC, CBS, 103.7 KISS FM, 99.1 MIX, and La Mega Spanish Radio channel.
Key volunteers who contributed to its success include Shubhra and Bharat Prasad, Ravi Shankar Kummary, Manju Patil, Balaji Rangachari, Ashita Verma and Phoua Vang.
Numerous elected leaders and public officials from all levels of government attended the event.
The Consul General of India, Sudhakar Dalela thanked and congratulated organizers. “I admire your commitment to community service and to foster connections and friendship between India and US,” Dalela is quoted saying in the press release.