LIVINGSTON, NJ – Threatening rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of Livingston’s Indian community as the India Fest event, scheduled to move from the lawn of the West Essex YMCA to the Memorial Oval for the first time this year to accommodate the annual event’s growing popularity, was forced inside on Sunday.
Rising to the last-minute logistical challenge, event organizers Sanskriti of New Jersey moved more than 60 vendors and dozens of dance and musical performers into Livingston High School (LHS). Sanskriti of New Jersey is a non-profit association serving the Asian-Indian community of Essex County and neighboring towns.
“Sanskriti’s mission is to promote awareness of and tolerance for the Indian culture,” said president Sonal Batra in her welcoming remarks to hundreds of attendees in the LHS auditorium. “We do this not only for our own Indian community, but for the community at large.”
Jewelry, clothing, Mehndi/Henna, food and local service business vendors filled both the LHS cafeteria and its surrounding hallways, bringing to life the various aspects of Indian culture.
Young entrepreneur, Nikita Bajaj, added a flair of positivity to the vendor space by holding court at her India Fest booth, which showcased her small business, “Quotes by Nikita.”
“These are basically jars of positive quotes, so every time you’re feeling down and you need some positive energy, you take a quote out,” she said. “It’s supposed to help brighten up your day. The reason I started this business was because I feel very strongly about positivity and happiness.”
On the main stage, BollyZumba and Bhangra lessons were presented and a wide array of dance troupes and musical guests were also featured.
During the program, Batra, who acted as Master of Ceremonies, took the opportunity to thank the Sanskriti executive committee and many volunteers who teamed together to not only help make India Fest possible, but for making the many educational and cultural events Sanskriti hosts during the year successful as well.
Livingston Township Council members Michael Silverman, Shawn Klein and Rudy Fernandez were on hand to lend their support for the days’ activities.
“This is true proof that volunteerism and community is one in Livingston,” said Silverman. “On behalf of all of the town council, we want to thank Sanskriti for welcoming us to your events because it allows us to be part of your community.”
Silverman presented Batra with a plaque commemorating the day, which read:
“We join Sanskriti and members of the community in celebrating India Fest—enjoying the dance, music, fashion and food of India—and sharing the recognition and appreciation of Indian culture.”
Also in attendance was Montclair resident and Congressional candidate for New Jersey’s 11th district Mikie Sherrill, who spoke briefly about her campaign efforts.
The event was co-sponsored by frequent Livingston Township event sponsors Regal Bank and New York Life.