Bradley Stoke residents take prominent roles in Asian cultural celebration.
The South Gloucestershire Asian Project (SGAP) celebrated its fourteenth year since inauguration in 1999. To mark the occasion, the cultural group held a dinner and dance show in Elm Park, Filton on Saturday 26th January; this was an important date for Indians everywhere as it was also Republic Day in India. Young Indians and British Asians celebrated their cultural roots through a variety of performances, and prominent figures of the local community were invited to attend, including Cllr Janet Biggin (Chair of South Gloucestershire Council), Cllr Tom Aditya (Bradley Stoke Town Councillor) and the Honourable Robert Bernays OBE (Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire).
The array of music and dance was almost as wide ranging as the variety of colours worn by guests, from vibrant pink and purple ‘sarees’, to turquoise and saffron ‘salwaars’. Children as young as seven showcased their talent by performing Bollywood dances as well as playing Indian instruments such as the ‘veena’. Young dancers Mrindula Hirimagalur (aged 13) and Nivedita Prasad (aged 16) did an extraordinary Bharatnatyam performance, which they had been taught by Nivedita’s mother, Dr. Vasumathi Prasad. Dr. Prasad was the Programme Co-ordinator for the evening’s performances, and she runs Indian dance classes on Saturdays at Abbeywood Community School in Stoke Gifford.
While the guests were queuing for snacks such as ‘golgappas’ (a round crispy ball filled with chilli potatoes and chutney), I managed to speak to some of the crowds. Most people were working professionals with children and families, but there were a few young couples too. Jill Brown, originally from Northern Ireland, had come to see the show with her partner Shiva. Jill said she ‘loved travelling to India’ and met Shiva at a friend’s wedding where they hit it off.
Photo: Shiva and Jill enjoying the show.
Before an extravagant Indian meal, the special guests had an opportunity to address the gathering and make some important points. The Chair of SGAP, Bradley Stoke resident Sachin Singhal, mentioned how the group had gone from strength to strength and paid tribute to its main contributors, including the SGAP Secretary, Abhijit Davande. Bradley Stoke Town Councillor, Tom Aditya, spoke about the Asian community ‘moving forward’ although ‘the road has been hard’; he mentioned the recent burglaries which seemed to have targeted Asian households. But such issues were put forth to the police, and Tom has now also taken on the role of Vice Chairman for the Police Advisory Panel. Tom ended with some words from Mahatma Gandhi about keeping a positive attitude in order to impact society with positive words and actions.
Robert Bernays OBE raised an important point about the younger generation keeping their culture alive, and not forgetting their roots but remembering what their parents taught because ‘this culture should go on forever’ as part of British society. Robert encouraged young people to get involved and offer their talents to the larger society of Great Britain, where democratic processes take place.
Cllr Janet Biggin ended the speeches by giving examples of Asians who had made an impact in the locality, and she mentioned that ‘we have shared a heritage of welcoming people from every community’. She shared a vision for stronger and safer communities in which everyone can contribute their talents and ‘encourage understanding’.
Lead photo: Cllr Tom Aditya (left), Robert Bernays OBE (2nd from left) and Cllr Janet Biggin (right).
More photos from the SGAP celebration can be found on PicasaWeb.
Article by Pallavi Hallur
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