A week ago, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Punjabi Mela, an annual Indian festival promoting the Punjab culture, at the Cultural Center of India in Chester. Literally, it is the festival of Punjab. The Punjab people, an ethnic group originating from North India, work together to create this remarkable festival, which allows both Indians and outsiders to experience and enjoy Punjabi cuisine, dance, clothes, and jewelry.
One cultural aspect of the Indian people (not solely Punjabi) is henna. Henna tattoos are designs typically done on one’s hand that last for about two weeks. Beautiful and delicate, henna is definitely one of my favorite parts of the festival, as it allows me to take part in the Punjab culture firsthand. I also immersed myself in the Punjab culture by purchasing an authentic Indian outfit, which I was tempted to wear to school.
Indian customs and arts are beautiful; the clothes are so different than what we are used to and uniquely attractive, the food is delicious, and the dances are both graceful and fun.
To me, dancing seemed to be the highlight of the festival. The festival was set up in three rooms: a smaller entrance with an area to purchase clothes, a room two or three times that size for the food, and the largest room in the middle. The dances occurred on a stage in the latter room, where other tables were also set up with clothes, accessories, and people doing henna. I was so impressed by the work and time put into the festival, and can say that the effort of all those involved was truly worth it.
Amidst the blaring music, singing, and dancing, I was struck by the diversity and community amongst everyone. It made me happy and appreciative of their culture, and really grateful that they would share it with everyone.
I’d also like to congratulate a few Collegiate students who participated in the festival: Sukhmani Dhillon, Mohith Dhillon, Sonja Kapadia, Shaan Sharma, Shreya Sharma, and Akum Dhillon; they were all so wonderful, and it was amazing to see them preform onstage. One of my favorite dances was the Golden Bhangra, where all of the Collegiate students preformed their own dance. The moves are unique to their culture, and I love seeing something so different.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend and urge everyone to keep this festival in mind so that next year you can experience and take part in this incredible culture and people!