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Festival showcases Shreveport's Indian community

ASEANA Foundation.JPG
Kate Archer Kent

The culture of India will take center stage on Saturday, April 27, for the ASEANA Foundation’s Spring Festival. In its sixth year, the festival draws hundreds of people to downtown Shreveport. The event will highlight traditional Indian cuisine and folk dances. ASEANA Foundation board president Lumen Tindell said a group of volunteers took a once abandoned garden and turned it into a treasured inner city green space, this year influenced by the Asian subcontinent.

“We painted all the planters with an Indian theme.  We have some elephants that are also local to India.  We’re going to wrap up the trees with Indian sari fabrics to make it more colorful and hang a lot of lanterns all over," Tindell said, during an interview in the Asian Gardens.

Volunteers take care of the Asian Gardens year round and receive grants through the Neighborhood Improvement Project. They’ve had some recent setbacks with vandalism, but that hasn’t derailed them. Foundation board member Dr. Mary Grace De Joya-Vea said the Spring Festival is an opportunity to draw Shreveport together and celebrate its diversity.

“The goal of the festival will be for people to understand each other. Peace comes with understanding. To have peace, you have to communicate," De Joya-Vea said.

Curry and cumin spices will waft from the food booths that open at 10 a.m. The music and dancing gets under way at 12 p.m. from the festival stage draped in fabrics from India. The festival is held in conjunction with the Texas Avenue Makers Fair, located in the neighboring Shreveport Common. Organizers say both events continue to grow each year.