Indo American Heritage Museum celebrates Diwali festival as Family Fun Day

The Family Day Diwali festival was organized by Indo-American Heritage Museum Beyond Bollywood Committee Members Amita Banerji and Dorothie Shah.

Credit: The Indo-American Heritage Museum.

The Indo American Heritage Museum organized Family Fun Day as part of Diwali celebrations on October 28 at The Field Museum in Chicago.

The Beyond Bollywood Family Day was filled with art activities and performances all relating to Diwali and Indian-American culture.

Pre-schoolers and their parents joined Bollywood Groove storyteller Ajanta Chakraborty in the vigorous movement to enliven the story of ‘Five Days of Diwali.’  In the Crown Family, PlayLab children created sparkly Diyas, clay lamps which brighten the darkest night of the year when millions of people worldwide celebrate Diwali, the festival of light.  Others tackled Indian board games including Carom and Snakes and Ladders.

Before noon the entire museum resounded with the rhythm of Kalakshetra Drummers as they brought a tradition from Kerala, India to Stanley Field Hall, then led visitors up the South Staircase to the Marae Gallery to tour Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation. There, visitors viewed videos about members of the local Indian American community and examined local treasures displayed with banners from the Smithsonian Traveling exhibition of Beyond Bollywood.

Beyond Bollywood tells a uniquely American story while conveying the texture, vibrancy, and vitality of Indian American communities.

After lunch entranced children flanked by mesmerized adults formed a huge semi-circle in Stanley Field Hall as an Indian classical dance performance upstaged the Field’s famous African elephants and Tyrannosaurus Rex Sue.  Kathak exponent Gauri Jog displayed intricacies of the dance form and the Indian Dance School troupe displayed perfect coordination in group performance.

The Family Day event was organized by Indo-American Heritage Museum Beyond Bollywood Committee members Amita Banerji and Dorothie Shah with vital cooperation from Field Museum Childhood Learning Center staff, Alyssa Harsha and Eduarda Briseno IAHM Beyond Bollywood Docents Happie Datt, Nita Gangwal, Soumya Patala, Padma Rangaswamy,  Vinkel Thakkar, Padma Rangaswamy, and volunteers Zach Tyler and  Dhruv Mehta assisted in supervising activities and promoting visitor participation.

“Interpreting our community and culture to wider audiences is a very important part of our mission. We are delighted that the community got involved and supported us so enthusiastically in this effort. This exhibition not only helps Indian Americans learn more about their own heritage, it also makes them feel they are an integral part of the city they call home,” observed Padma Rangaswamy, co-chair of Beyond Bollywood committee.

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