Posts Tagged ‘fresno state’

63rd Annual celebration of India’s Independence

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”
— Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India
India, the world’s largest democracy, with more than a billion people, achieved its independence on Aug. 15, 1947, from the British Colonial power, which ruled India for more than 200 years. It was a birth of a new sovereign nation, dawn of freedom for teeming millions, realization of a dream of thousands of martyrs from all backgrounds who sacrificed their lives.

The 63rd Indian Independence Day was celebrated at California State University, Fresno’s Satellite Student Union Hall. It was a great show of Indian origin living in and around the Fresno area 10,000 miles away from “home.” In a show of solidarity, Indians with origin from different parts of the nation, west, east, north and south Indians, organized, performed, sang, mingled, and enjoyed the celebration together. The whole event was very well organized and a special congratulation goes out to The Independence Day Celebration Committee for their tireless effort.
There were nineteen local organizations, predominantly of Punjabis, who all rallied together for the occasion. Almost all of the various Indian organizations in the central valley channeled their differences in language, regional ties, and religions, and focused on the unifying factor: Being Indian and celebrating this fact together.

There were great speeches from all of the guests which included mayors, assembly members and senators from all over California. The speeches, one after another, genuinely conveyed their admiration of how the Indian community has made a difference by their positive contribution to American society and how proud they were in having us here.

The most powerful speech was by Mrs. Susmita G. Thomas, Consulate General of India, who traveled by road from San Francisco to attend this celebration. She dedicated a large part of her speech to the true Heroes in Indian Independence movement, a fact rarely mentioned by politicians. The speech session was continued by Dr. John Welty, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, Assemblyman Michael Villines, Congressman Jim Costa and many other local dignitaries.

The celebration included classical Indian and folk dances, a short patriotic play, release of a souvenir and light refreshment. It was celebrated with the growing diversity of the Indian community in the Valley.
The event sponsors are the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute at Fresno State and State Bank of India, Fresno.


International Cultural Night 2009

International  Culture Night: One Night Where the World Unites

I attended the 26th annual International Culture Night last night in the Satellite Student Union.  The audience was treated to a cornucopia of dances from many different cultures.   We saw fantastic performances from both student and professional dance troupes representing the countries of Africa, China, Egypt, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico and Polynesia. 

My favorite performances were done by the Tanjora Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, the Indian Student Club, and the Polynesian Club of Fresno. It was exciting to see the costumes, and hear the music and watch the dances.  I especially enjoyed the fashion show of designs from different countries featuring both men and women.  My favorite was the Indian wedding outfit—I like sparkle and both the lady and gentlemen’s outfits were very elegant and glamorous.  Kudos to the International Culture Night Committee and all the hard work that went into planning this wonderful event!

International Coffee Hour: South Korea

When: October 13, 2009 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Where: USU
Presenter:  Yong Beom Kwon


Indian Student Club :Garba Rass Event


‘Garba Rass’, an event hosted by the Indian Student Club on October 4, 2009 was a celebration of the Indian festival ‘Navaratri’. It was fun filled evening with dance, music, food, exciting prizes and much more. The event was amazing to watch and more exhilarating to be a part of!

The event started at 7 pm at 4918 N 9th street, Parkwood Recreation centre. The hall was decorated with dupattas (scarfs) and beautiful paintings all around the wall. The Organizers tried to combine our ancient culture with modern Navratri. The Emcee first introduced the new committee members to the audience and then everybody introduced themselves. Then special Indian food from the most renowned Indian restaurant was served. The special gulab-jamun (sweet item) added the flavor to food and crowd enjoyed it.

Finally the emcee announced “Let’s do it” and thus it began, the garba practice. To the uninitiated, garba is a Guajarati folk dance performed during the festival of Navratri. Men and women dance in a circle around a lamp or statue of goddess Amba. It was precisely this art form which our crowd was trying to master.

The group then began. The DJ was rocking with excellent typical garba songs. At first, the group was unsynchronized and there was much hilarity. But soon, under emcee’s guidance, the dancing became more graceful. The ease with which the participants picked up difficult steps was astonishing. They performed a lot of different steps while dancing. At the end, the kind of coordination and mastery which was on display was simply unbelievable. Men and women in traditional colorful dresses danced to their fullest enjoying every moment of the festival on Sunday. Not only Indians but many Americans as well as guests danced and enjoyed to their fullest!

At the end, the emcee announced a future event such as Diwali Night and everyone was excited about it. To sum it up, Garba Raas was a mesmerizing event to watch as well as to participate in.

The Pursuit of Beauty: California Indian Baskets & The Art of Ansel Adams

PICT0610The Henry Madden Library is a safe haven for history. It houses an array of books that tell of years past, of fallen civilization and celebrated victories. It’s very design, that of a basket to represent the rich native history of the land, praises the details of past years. With the library’s latest exhibit, The Pursuit of Beauty:  California Indian Baskets & The Art of Ansel Adams, however, it can now boast of being one of the most culturally aware building on campus.display

Housed in the picturesque Ellipse room, the exhibit showcases photographs by Ansel Adam, the innovative artist who captured some of the most beautiful shots of the nearby Yosemite Valley ever to be taken, and breathtakingly intricate baskets crafted by California Indians. This blend of seemingly very different aspects of art is what the exhibit calls the “celebration of the land from which they came.” And indeed, as one wanders among the photographs and impressive baskets, one can feel the weight of the history and beauty they represent.

The photos by Adams are all of the natural beauty that can be found through the state, and most focus on the very valley that Fresno State calls home. PICT0648What is most striking, however, isn’t the gorgeous wilderness, but the very honest angles that Ansel used to frame his photos. An onlooker can almost feel the mist on their face as they stare at the photos of the river. This sensation is undoubtedly highlighted by the fact that this same onlooker can see their own reflection when they stare at the photo. They literally look as if they are there in the snow covered valley or watching the sunrise. One of the most interesting aspects of the displayed photographs involves the dates on which they were taken. Photos range from 1919 to 1946 to 1964, across so many periods of turmoil and change in American history. It is almost as if Adam’s photographs are comforting reminders that, even if American’s are fighting foreign enemies abroad or racism at home, the natural, calm beauty of its landscapes is unwavering and infinite.

The baskets, which are encircled by these photographs, are astonishing by themselves. Said to exist to tell “the legend of a people,” they appear to do just that. An onlooker can wander so very close to these works of art, these testaments to a culture so unlike our own, one with its own customs and marvels. It appears as if one recieves a gift of insight when they see the pieces so cleverly weaved.


Speaking of cleverly weaved, one could say the same about the room itself. Designed to mimic they very baskets it now holds, the entire room is surrounded with smooth, sleek, and smart wooden pannels that mirror the strands or raw, earthy materials that weave together to make such interesing baskets. Thus, the entire experience of the exhibit comes full circle.

PICT0615When the producers of the event gave it a name, The Pursuit of Beauty, they must have known that they had, indeed, found it.

International Coffee Hour: Thailand

Thailand is, according to Fresno State Linguistics student Nucharaporn Liangruenrom, the land of smiles.

Thailand is a land of freedom, like the name suggests, but hospitality is other idea that defines Thailand. The presenter herself smiled effervescently throughout her talk, and never failed to communicate just how friendly Thai citizens are.


The charm of Thailand isn’t surprising, as capitol city and Ms. Liangruenrom’s hometown, Bangkok, is home to 10 million people!  But Bangkok is only a tip of the cultural iceberg of Thailand. The country is divided into several provinces, but it is defined by the Northern mountain regions and the luxurious coastal South, home to some of the world best beaches.

Tourists flock to Thailand for these reasons but are delighted by the friendly Thai. They might be shocked by the spicy Thai food too! Ms. Liangruenrom assured her audience that while Thai food might seem spicy here in America, it is way, way spicier in Thailand!

When a tourist arrives in Thailand, they must learn the typical greeting, “sawatdee”.  Thai citizens also greet each other with a friendly question, “Have you eaten yet?” So any tourist would know right away that, in Thailand, cuisine is culture! When this typical tourist is finished enjoying the beaches and spicy noodles, they can hop on a smiley elephant! Thailand is also known for its charming mascot, the elephant.

An American tourist would also no doubt be delighted by the linguistic charms of Thailand. Arguably the most fascinating part of Ms. Liangruenrom’s presentation was her discussion of the intricate relationship between the English language and that of the language spoken in Thailand, Thai. It seems that the two languages have found a way to fuse together to create something both unique and fascinating. There are a few linguistic phenomenons that the audience was able to learn about, one of which was the Thai adoption of the English practice of using an “s” at the end of a word to indicate plurality.

In Thai, whenever an adjective is in need of being emphasized, an “s” is added! How interesting! Another interesting practice is the manner in which some English words are chopped when they appear in Thai. For instance, the English word “INTERNATIONAL,” becomes simply “INTER” when used in Thailand.

International Coffee Hour: Vietnam

Trang Pham, a student of Fresno State and a native of Vietnam, presented her talk, “Vietnam: A Country, Not A War,” to a very enthusiastic audience.  Ms. Pham wanted not to talk of her country and its relationship to world politics, but, more appropriately, to speak of its culture and its people.


Vietnam, situated in Southeast Asia and forming an “S” shape, enjoys tropical weather.  But what lies beyond the facts? She began by correcting the frequent misconceptions that she encounters. Vietnam, she said, is welcoming, and people of every nation are greeted upon their arrival in Vietnam with hospitality and kindness. This might have something to do with the fact that the unified nation of Vietnam is home to 54 different ethnic groups! Whew! That’s a lot of culture!

This culture contributes to Vietnam’s growing reputation of being a charming, growing country. Indeed, Vietnam’s industry of tourism is increasing steadily each year.


Growing is a good word to describe Vietnam in another sense as well, as 2/3 of the population of the country was born after 1975. This makes for a very young population, eager to distance their generation from the wars of the past. Ms. Phan examples this by saying that Tet, a word well known in America as referring to an offensive launched during the Vietnam War, is actually the most festive time of year in Vietnam.

Centering around the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, the celebratory season combines American holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years to make for a very fun time. The best food is cooked, and native Vietnamese from all around come back to their homeland to celebrate.

Ms. Pham, while presenting a Vietnam very different from the Vietnam presented in most movies, did speak of the war that seems to go hand in hand with American perception of Vietnam. Yes, it is true that Agent Orange and landmines are injuring citizens, she acknowledged, but her country is moving forward. She finished her presentation with a video that encapsulated the Vietnam she was talking about, a Vietnam full of charm, youth, and hope.