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Children show off Hindi skills at annual event

June 2009
Children show off Hindi skills at annual event

On Sunday, May 3, the Duluth High School auditorium reverberated with the Indian national language as about 100 children performed skits, plays, prayers and songs to show off their Hindi skills learnt throughout the year at the biweekly classes conducted by the Hindi Vihar, a program of the Indian Cultural Foundation of America (ICFA).

According to Shirish Gandhi, a director and coordinator of the ICFA, “In the annual cultural program, every class presents a skit or a play. The goal is to have full participation instead of individual excellence. It is hard to tell whether the teachers are more nervous or their parents, whether the audience is having more fun or the students, but one thing is certain, everyone looks forward to this program.”

This year, most skits centered on India, her history and her progress, her Independence and her march towards becoming a superpower. Some had patriotic songs of yesteryears, while some had modern songs all the way to Jai Ho, the popular track from Slumdog Millionaire. The kids, for many of whom Hindi is not the mother tongue, had many dialogues and had memorized them well. They spoke fluently and without hesitation.

“The most common things we heard often were what new thing we can do next year or how good was that child, or wasn’t that funny,” said Niranjan Jain, another director and coordinator of ICFA. “Thanks to the annual Hindi Vihar program, my child, who is otherwise a bit uncomfortable speaking Hindi, was eagerly shooting off the dialogues morning and night for weeks before the program,” said Tanvi Parekh, a Hindi Vihar parent.

The finale was the 19 teachers on stage with their shimmering saris, beaming with pride and smiles as if saying, “Wait till next year, you ain’t seen nothing yet?.”

Hindi Vihar, in its third year, has 132 students in 13 classes from pre-kindergarten for four years old all the way to the sixth grade. The emphasis is on a comprehensive syllabus including reading, writing and conversational Hindi with a foundation in grammar, as well as celebration of various Indian festivals and holidays. The children specially enjoy the story-telling competition but the favorite by far with both the parents and the students is the annual cultural program.

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