FESTIVAL OF FUN, LEARNING, AND CELEBRATION:
THE ASIAN FESTIVAL AT BREBEUF IN INDIANAPOLIS
Kanwal Prakash Singh
March 22, 2010
Once again, true to its mission of “helping to develop awareness of and appreciation for Asian cultures,” raising funds for a minority student scholarship, and to support an orphanage in Vietnam, the eleventh annual Asian Festival at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School was another great success.
In the Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School Multi-Purpose Room, the venue of the Festival, there was an unusual excitement: an Asian aura reflected in displays; a royal canopy covered with magnificent Indian saris; clusters of balloons and large exotic parrots hanging from the ceiling and an inviting aroma of Asian buffet lunch filled the air. Thanks to the parents, faculty, and students, learning opportunities at the cultural booths from Japan, Korea, Laos, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Israel. In addition, there was a booth by the Japanese Animee Club at Brebeuf and the popular Mehndi artist, Mrs. Pramila Shah. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Mrs. Ballard joined Brebeuf President, Dr. Matthew Hayes and other faculty and parents in the Festival that has earned its own place in central Indiana as an educational and fun celebration; making new friends and experiencing Asian cultures during a regular school day each March.
Mayor Ballard’s strong commitment to diversity and education is well recognized in Indiana. As former Brebeuf parents, Mayor and Mrs. Ballard’s friendly presence and remarks lent a very welcome touch to this festival of fun, learning, and celebration.
The highlight of the festivities is always the entertainment by students and invited guests. The colorful entertainment included the fascinating Japanese Minyo Dancers, the Turkish Gypsy and contemporary dances (choreographers: Rosina Catalan and Taylor Graham), Filipino Bamboo Dance and modern dances (choreographer: Rose Solevin), a musical prayer offering by Giani Pritam Singh, (Spiritual leader of the Sikh Temple in Indianapolis. Gianijee sang two prayer hymns during the Festival. The Punjabi Bhangra, the famous folk dance of the Punjab (choreographer: Namrita Clare) was a smashing hit. It was wonderful to see many students, some faculty and parents dressed in colorful Punjabi and other Asian costumes.
Mrs. Janice Singh, Moderator of the Brebeuf Asian Club, is the force behind this Festival and a part of her efforts to guide and prepare her students to become citizens of the world. Her focus on Asia is an affirmation that Asia as an emerging giant, with countries like China and India as future superpowers.
The educational component is never far away, nor the lessons to appreciate and enjoy other cultures and spiritual experiences as a wonderful part of our shared humanity and as valuable anchors to connecting with an intensely competitive world, interconnected at many levels. New cultural dimensions: foods, languages, perspectives, arts and heritage are introduced, new skills are learned and shared, and new bridges are created to cultures and countries that were once unfamiliar. New understanding, lasting interests, and cultural sensitivities are developed. The joyful outcome of the Festival is that some lasting friendships are formed among the participants as they plan the events, learn the dances, and share ideas with each other. That is what distinguishes this Festival as a creative and imaginative gift to the students and the community.
One can only imagine how many students having experienced a glimpse of the Asian richness will be tomorrow’s citizen diplomats and cultural ambassadors to lands and places that they hardly knew a few years earlier. Then again, maybe, it is not the festivals, events, or celebrations, but the personal energy, passion, and vision of those who lead us to see the world through new lenses that reveal helpful perspectives and rich undiscovered possibilities. ……………… All photographs by KP and Robbie Singh