Camels, Bollywood dancing and more at India Day fest

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FOSAI plans grand celebrations at Werribee this August

On 15 August, to coincide with India’s Independence Day, Festivals of South Asia Inc (FOSAI) will host three back-to-back festivals at the Werribee Race Course in Wyndham to celebrate in Indian culture, art and food. The upcoming festivals include India Day, South Asian Food Festival and International Food Festival.

“It’s important for us to pass on a ritual of democracy to Indians living in Australia. We have all celebrated Independence Day back in India. We know the experience and joy it brings every year,” says Hari Yellina, secretary of FOSAI. “This experience and joy has to be brought back by recreating such events. I feel it’s our duty to build an event that helps younger generation nurture and understand the relevance of the day. It makes them understand Indian history and gives them a reason to be proud Australian Indians,” he adds.

The two-day event will see multiple areas of activities. The first half of August 15 will be focused on parades and flag hoisting. The second half is about entertainment, food and culture. The second day will witness an international food festival. The event will begin at 11 AM both days and go on till 9 PM.

Parts of Werribee Race Course will be converted into large heated area for the two days with big marquees and food stall areas. And soon after flag hoisting and the parade, FOSAI will host an Indian food festival, art exhibition including pottery and yoga workshop, cooking classes, camel rides, amusement rides, fashion and jewelry stalls and much more.

 

Riding on a camel

There are a lot of exciting events planned for families. Like for instance, taking a camel-back ride though the grounds on Peter Hodge’s camels, roped in to keep in sync with the Indian theme.

“We travel all over Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia providing camel rides at school fetes, markets, festivals, agricultural shows, and for treks. We have even delivered the bride and groom to the church on occasions, and even starred with the three wise men in Christmas nativity scenes,” says Peter, who will be part of the Indian festival for the first time.

“After handling wild camels and seeing how they responded to human contact I fell in love with these wonderful animals,” says Peter, who first became involved in the camel for hire trade in 1986, catching wild camels in the Northern Territory. He then took some camels to Tasmania in 1993 and began giving camel rides. He then came to Victoria in 1996 and provided camels for the movie “Kangaroo Jack” in 2001.

 

Step it up

For those looking for a dose of Bollywood – and a little beyond — Melbourne-based Mandy Dance Academy, which will also participate in the India festival has promised a visual treat to the audience with a mix of Bollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood and Mollywood songs as well as tribal and folk dances, as well as new age, contemporary, hip hop and R&B thrown in to spice things up further.

“We want the Australian community to know that there is more to Indian dance than Bollywood,” says Mandy Bose, choreographer and lead dancer of the Academy. She has been dancing for the last 15 years and has successfully performed in major dance and reality shows in India and Australia.

Mandy Dance Academy has been performing at various community shows in Melbourne and been part of the Tamil Association in Adelaide. Members of the troupe have also performed at International events like Arjun Live in Melbourne and ICC World cup 2015 celebrations. “We are glad to claim ourselves as the first South-Indian dance company showcasing South-Indian folk and semi-classical dances,” says Mandy, who can’t wait to join in the celebrations.

 

Get kicking fit

Also joining in the festival this year is Fit Kicks, a sports program tailor-made to teach kids to be healthy and active, “and most important, to become great people”, according to program founder Louise Bradley.

Festival goers will be introduced to Fit Kicks classes and ideologies through fun and activity filled workshops and events at the Werribee grounds. “The toddlers will get to work with parents by their side, while the older bunch will get to explore sports in a non‐competitive, fun and engaging atmosphere,” says Louise, who adds that the program caters to children between 2 and 12.

“The sports program was created to be a positive role model in our community. A place where everyone is welcome, where we are all part of the same team and all get along. Fit-Kicks is much more than just a sport program, it’s life changing,” she says. Well, India Day is your day to find out.

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