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Family Fun At Zee Heritage India Festival

July 2004
Family Fun At Zee Heritage India Festival

Atlantans enjoyed a weekend of shopping, food and family fun at the Zee Heritage India Festival during the weekend of June 12-13 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

The festival was part of the recently wrapped up third season of the Zee Heritage India Festival. Festivals were also held in San Jose, Ca., Chicago, Edison, NJ, and Gaithersburg, Md. The Atlanta festival drew thousands, as festivalgoers enjoyed traditional Rajasthani dances and music by a 12-person troupe headlined by the renowned musician and entertainer Rehmat Khan Langa.

The performances, which were held for hours at a time throughout both days of the festival, featured a puppet show, traditional Rajasthani music, dances like kachhi ghodi, tehra taali and banjara, and more. At various points throughout the festival, the troupe's musicians and dancers could be seen meandering around the fairgrounds, dancing and interacting with festival goers.

"We really wanted to turn the entertainment up a notch this year. The incredible response towards Langa's dance troupe was especially gratifying. Items like kachhi ghodi, the puppet shows and traditional Rajasthani dances are something that most South Asians that have grown up here have never seen before. We are proud that we were able to bring it to them," said Shishir Misra, president of Rushi Entertainment.

The dance troupe performed at all five festivals this year, courtesy of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, an agency within the Indian government. "Of course, we're incredibly grateful to the ICCR for providing us access to the wondrous talents of Mr. Langa and his troupe," Mr. Misra said.

As an added attraction, the festival featured dancers, musicians and artists from local communities and dance schools. Dances from all across India were featured.

In addition to the vast variety of stage entertainment, the festival also served as a tremendous marketplace for all things South Asian ? from arts and handicrafts for the home to the latest cotton fashions from India to classic and contemporary costume jewelry to beautiful Rajasthani and Punjabi artwork, the festival had a little something for everybody's shopping tastes. Apart from local vendors, there were others that came from as far as the U.K., New York, New Jersey and North Carolina to provide attendees with variety and value.

"By bringing vendors from the U.K. and all over the U.S., the festivals create a huge business-to-business platform for many small companies that otherwise are not able to venture out into other markets," said Mukesh Maini, assistant vice president of marketing for Rushi Entertainment. "Not only are vendors able to sell to the end consumer, but the networking opportunities allow vendors to create distributorships and establish long-term relationships with cross-country clients."

Not to be outdone by the shopping and entertainment, popular South Asian restaurants from each venue's metropolitan area provided mouth-watering dishes from all over India. A sampling of the cuisine included dosas, vadas, Indian-Chinese, masala chai, bhel puri, chicken and beef kabobs, kulfi, samosas, vegetable cutlets, potato patties, fresh sugarcane juice, and much more.

Children who attended the festivals had enjoyed a full day of activity, as international nonprofit agencies Vibha and Asha for Education provided a host of carnival games and activities like coloring, face painting and mehndi to keep children entertained.

Rushi Entertainment, which organized the Zee Herigae India Festival is a multimedia South Asian entertainment company based in Maryland.

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