Journey to India 

"Passage Through India" is the theme for this year's cultural heritage festival hosted by the India Association of Memphis. And it involves journeys guaranteed to blow your mind.

There is a merchants' bazaar with local and traveling vendors offering traditional Indian jewelry and apparel. (Did somebody just say "Christmas-shopping slam dunk"? Because I thought I heard a voice say that.)

The festival's Experience Zone is based on the Amazing Race, in which you earn passports to challenges involving the different linguistic traditions and cultural diversity of India. Kids can learn to write their names in different languages, tie a turban, drape a sari, paint a mask, and henna. 

The foodie-geared Spice Journey has three components: heritage, fusion, and interpretation. Heritage involves learning about the traditional ingredients and methods of Indian cooking. The fusion portion includes how to prepare Indian food with what's available from local grocers. The final stop is interpretation. "We look at how you would take an American recipe and jazz it up with Indian spices," festival director Sharan Salian said.

There is an open talent competition with dancing and singing that will feature 15 performers. The bands from White Station Middle School and Germantown Middle School will also play short concerts of Indian-themed material from 10:30 to noon.

Don't miss the regional talent competition involving entrants from six Indian states. The five-minute presentations involve a combination of elements from Indian classical music and dance, Indian folk music, and Bollywood. 

"They use elements of all three to present the theme of 'Passage Through India.' But each has its own tradition. There is absolutely so much creativity. Anybody who has never seen India Fest will be blown away," Salian said.

India Fest, Saturday, November 5th, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Agricenter International, $3. For more information, go to

indiafestmemphis.org.

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