India Fest to celebrate India's rich heritage with health fair, music, dance, food and more

India Fest will again be held this year as a celebration of India’s rich heritage.

Those attending the festival to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Legacy Park at 15100 NW 142nd Terrace in Alachua will enjoy a celebration of India’s traditions, diversity and culture by experiencing India’s music, dance, fashion and, of course, food.

“India Fest serves the mission of ICEC (Indian Cultural and Education Center) by providing an Indo-American cultural interaction,” said  Manisha Ranade, one of the organizers of the event. “It is an annual festival of food, cultural programs, health fair and shopping that raises funds for the organization. It is a family festival that brings together the whole Indian community as well as the greater Gainesville community in a celebration of India’s culture.”

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This will be the 23rd year the free festival has been held, Ranade said, adding that the festival will be held at an indoor venue (Legacy Park) for the first time to avoid being disrupted because of inclement weather as it was last year.

The festival routinely draws 2,000 to 3,000 people that include all ages, ethnicities and languages, Ranade said.

“Typically, lots of families like to come since there are many children’s dances,” Ranade said.

The Kachi Garba group performs at India Fest at the Easton Newberry Sports Complex on April 9, 2022. This year's India Fest will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday at Legacy Park in Alachua. [Kiara Cline / Special to The Sun]
(Photo: Gainesville Sun file photo by Kiara Cline)
The Kachi Garba group performs at India Fest at the Easton Newberry Sports Complex on April 9, 2022. This year's India Fest will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday at Legacy Park in Alachua. [Kiara Cline / Special to The Sun] (Photo: Gainesville Sun file photo by Kiara Cline)

Priyanka Vyas, another organizer of the festival, said it will include a health fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

“On site, we will have various health screenings including hypertension, diabetes and anemia screening, along with physicians/specialists to answer questions and provide guidance,” Vyas said. “UF Health Street will have some important resources, too. We also have an informational booth with educational materials emphasizing the importance of cancer screenings.”

Students from UF's School of Physical Therapy will review workstation ergonomics aiming to reduce the risk of developing neck, shoulder, back and wrist problems for people working in office settings, Vyas said.

Ergonomics is the study of people at work that aims to reduce the physical stress and resulting injuries associated with working, such as overuse injuries, poor posture and more serious musculoskeletal disorders.

The festival this year will also have three new partners including Who We Play For (WWPF), which provides electrocardiogram (ECG) heart screenings to student-athletes and students. Organizers encourage student-athletes ages 10 to 25 years old to sign up for ECG screenings at the India Fest Health Fair, Vyas said.

Be The Match, a global leader in saving lives through cellular therapy will also be a new partner at the festival this year to inform the public about existing cures for life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, or other blood disorders like sickle cell, Vyra said.

Also, OneBlood, which supplies blood to over 250 hospitals in Florida at an affordable cost, will be on hand for the first time at the festival.

“Community-wide events like India Fest showcase cultural diversity and bring people from all backgrounds together,” Vyas said. “As part of this event, we expect the health fair to play an integral part in creating awareness and providing resources to improve overall community health. Please join us and help make this event a success.”

According to its website, the ICEC’s mission includes assisting students of Indian heritage with fulfilling their cultural and educational aspirations, creating a support network for students, faculty and community of Indian heritage to help them in times of emotional stress and crisis, provide opportunities to youth of Indian heritage to congregate, co-operate and contribute, provide academic guidance to students seeking careers in various fields, provide emergency financial assistance, scholarships and zero-interest loans to needy students, promote Indo-U.S. cultural interaction by organizing and participating in cultural and educational programs and provide an opportunity to its members to contribute towards the betterment of the community at large.

“It takes a village to organize India Fest and it is truly an event for the greater community to enjoy,” Ranade said. “We have over a hundred volunteers, more than a hundred performers and we start preparing six months in advance. It is a way for Indian physicians to give back to the community. There will be clothing and jewelry booths, as well as henna and face painting. We invite people to come and experience Indian culture and join in the festivities.”

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Legacy Park in Alachua to be site of India Fest this Saturday