Festival to turn Centennial Terrace into a ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’Written by Matt Liasse | | email@example.com
When Arun Agarwal got married, 1,300 guests attended.
In India, it’s not uncommon to have that many people in attendance; weddings in India are grand occasions, usually days-long, elaborate events with colors and high-energy entertainment, said Sangeeta Mehta, co-chair of Sylvania’s Festival of India alongside Agarwal.
“At the end of it, people are just done; it’s like they need a vacation to overcome the time,” she said.
A lot of planning and thought goes into an Indian wedding as well.
“It’s really about bringing the extended family and community together,” said Atul Agnihotri, president of the Hindu Temple of Toledo. “It’s not considered as just a relationship between a man and a woman, it’s considered to be an integral part of how society grows.”
The Festival of India, like an Indian wedding, will be on a grand scale this year. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, this year’s festival has the theme “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.” Guests will be greeted with plenty of color, music, food and dancing.
Agnihotri said the festival will include 100 performers, all volunteers.
One of the main events during the festival is the stage show, which will feature a couple reminiscing about the early days to the later years of their lives. The stories will be told through songs and dances in Bollywood style. This show is choreographed by Mehta.
“It’s absolutely impossible to capture every single event [of an Indian wedding], so we kind of capture the major events that are a part of most of the weddings,” Mehta said. “We are going to depict that with the dance and the significance of what’s going on and why it is done … it’s not learning or teaching; it’s more of an exposure and entertainment.”
Mehta used to teach dance classes and is excited for people to learn moves at the festival.
Other entertainment will include an Indian drummer, a face-painting booth for kids and plenty of Indian street food and delicacies.
The food is Agarwal’s favorite part of the festival. It’s something he looks forward to when he returns to India for business as well.
“I am a foodie so I go to eat,” he said.
Some foods that will be featured include: an Indian vegetarian burger that includes a potato patty between two Indian-style breads with Indian chutneys, Indian-style Chex mix, Bombay-style mega sandwiches, pav bhaji (an Indian-style sloppy joe) and more.
“We are going to give everybody an experience of India but with a touch of American,” Agarwal said. “We try to keep it less spicy so that people who don’t like spice will still enjoy.”
Usually the favorite dish is paani poori, a tamarind juice with puffed round chips.
The Hindu Temple of Toledo is an Ohio landmark, Agnihotri said.
“Temple today is not just a place of worship. It is a place where Toledo connects with a part of the world,” he said.
The 25th anniversary of the festival coincides with the expansion of the Temple of Toledo, which is currently undergoing renovations. The temple is usually the venue for the festivals but because they are expecting a bigger celebration, this year’s festivities will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Centennial Terrace, 5773 Centennial Road. This is a free event and it’s open to the public.
“You have to spend nothing to come and experience an Indian wedding,” Agnihotri said.
Tags: a face-painting booth, Arun Agarwal, Bollywood, Bombay, chutney, co-chair of Sylvania’s Festival of India, Hindu Temple of Toledo, Indian drummer, Indian street food, Indian vegetarian burger, paani poori, pav bhaji, Sangeeta Mehta, “My Big Fat Indian Wedding”