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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Hundreds gather in Corning to celebrate India's culture

  • Hundreds gathered in Centerway Square Saturday to celebrate the rich cultural history of India as the Southern Tier India Cultural Association (STICA) held its 10th annual India Day Celebration.
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  • Hundreds gathered in Centerway Square Saturday to celebrate the rich cultural history of India as the Southern Tier India Cultural Association (STICA) held its 10th annual India Day Celebration.
    The theme of this year's event was “States of India.” Guest speakers, dancers, musicians and singers entertained and educated visitors with a taste of India's diverse culture, which includes 29 states, 22 languages and hundreds of dialects.
    The event was also used to celebrate the diversity of not only India, but also the Southern Tier.
    “As a boy growing up in a family that cherished its own ethnicity, I am honored  to be here today,” said Corning City Councilman Chris Karam. “I want to thank each and every one who came out to share your rich and wonderful heritage.
    Your willingness to share your culture with us makes us a more diverse community.”
    Tom Capek, vice president of chemical engineering with Corning Inc. said that STICA's goal of education, inclusion and valuing diversity, mirrored the values of Corning Inc. The company was one of the event's sponsors.
    “Valuing the individual is one of the seven core values of Corning Inc.,” Capek said. “Diversity continues to be a source of our strength.”
    Anil Kharkar was one of the organizers of Saturday's event. He said he's both pleased and grateful of the way the community has embraced the India Day celebration.
    “When we started 10 years ago, we had 300 people,” Kharkar said. “Last year that number rose to 600. This year we are expecting 700 people if not more.”
    Alka Shah, president of STICA, said Saturday's celebration was a representation of India's varied culture.
    The event included eight songs and seven dances with styles ranging from traditional to Bollywood. The celebration also included a fashion show.
    Kharkar said the annual celebration draws together Indians living in the Southern Tier, but also provides a bridge of understanding between Indian and American cultures.
    “Most people here have family members still in India,” Shah said. “This gives us the opportunity to share the things we value together and with the community.”
    Jessica Ortiz and her daughter Madeline, came down to experience the celebration for the first time this year. Jessica Ortiz said they both enjoyed the singing, dancing and authentic Indian food.
    “I loved to see the fashion and the food was delicious,” Jessica Ortiz said. “They gave us a sampling of about 10 different things, so I got the chance to experience food I've never tasted before. It was really good.”

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