More than 200 Indian-American families live in the Manatee and Sarasota area, and on Saturday they welcomed the entire community to learn about their history and culture.
Thousands attended to annual IndiaFest of Manasota at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto, flocking to enjoy the food, culture program and shopping. The event is presented by the Gujarati Association of Manasota and the Indian American Association.
Vamee Nori, 34, sat waiting for the cultural program to begin with anticipation.
“Although coming from India, you to learn about the history,” Nori said.
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Having moved to Bradenton from India in 2013, he said the program still had a lot about the history that not all India-Americans know. Attending without his children this year because they are currently visiting India, he said he looked forward to festival’s educational program.
“Last year, they had more food from South India,” Nori said. “Maybe next year they’ll be back. There are a lot of varieties.”
There are more than 30 languages and 1,600 dialects spoken in India, and Indian culture is very diverse, the crowd learned.
Organizers hoped to teach those in attendance that like all immigrants, Indian-Americans are part of the American fabric.
“All immigrants bring something unique,” said Bharat Patil, one of the festival’s organizers.
Like other immigrants, Indian-Americans come from a history and culture that is based on family, faith, hard work and education, Patil said. Patil said this is what drives their success.
Gisela Weiglein is not from India, but she has visited India before, she said.
“I was so impressed. When I saw the Taj Mahal, I got goosebumps.” Weiglein said. “It was quite an experience, I have to say.”
Weiglein said it was the first time she has attended the festival, and she was impressed with the attendance.
“It’s very nicely done — the children with the dances,” Weiglein said. “The food is excellent.”