India Fest spices up Marion Square 

Taste the Indian rainbow

The aromas of curry and incense wafted through Marion Square on Sunday at India Fest, sponsored by the India Association of Greater Charleston. Indians of all ages ambled around dressed in traditional garb, the women in vibrant saris, the men in long tunics and bold red turbans.

Vendors sold stunning pashminas, saris, and sparkly bindi dots and henna tattoos. Betty Holland of Sophisticated Stones Outreach offered jewelry and textiles that had been brought back from India just last Tuesday — she was giving festival-goers a sneak peek at the goods she’ll sell at an upcoming bazaar at Creative Spark on Nov. 9 that will benefit small villages in the Himalayas.

Taste of India served up vegetable samosas, chicken tikka masala, dal makhani, rice, and more, while another table sold hard-to-find Indian cooking ingredients. The main action, however, was on stage. The Rhythm Ranis performed dance solos to songs from Bollywood films. Afterward, a demonstration about Bhangra — folk music that originated in Punjab — led to an all-out dance party. The group began by encouraging audience participation, but little coaxing was needed. Within five minutes, women and men of every demographic were center stage, hands in the air, concentrating intently on gyrating their hips like big Bollywood stars.

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