Arts & Culture
4:02 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

India Fest Becomes Milwaukee's Newest Ethnic Festival

Lake Effect's Dan Harmon interviews the founders of India Fest, Milwaukee's newest ethnic festival.

For many, it would not be summer in Milwaukee without our lineup of ethnic festivals. 

India Fest Milwaukee will take its place among the city's other large-scale ethnic and cultural celebrations this Saturday.
Credit Yogendra Joshi/Flickr

But there have still been holes in the line-up - like, say, the culture of the second most populous nation in the world. Aside from some small community celebrations, there has never been a large-scale celebration of India here. 

That's about to change. The city's latest outdoor festival is India Fest Milwaukee, a one-day, free celebration in Bay View's Humboldt Park this Saturday.

It's being organized by the  group Spindle India, including secretary Subhendu Modak, treasurer Rina Modak, and President Purnima Nath.

"Our goal was, 'Hey, there are so many festival that happens, the French festival, German festival, Irish Fest, why not India fest?' Nath says.

The festival promises Indian music, fashion, food, and even a cricket match. It will also mark the Indian Independence Day on August 15, though it comes a week later due to scheduling conflicts.

Besides logistical issues, the organizers also faced another challenge: how to represent the world's most diverse country in a one-day festival.

"India is so diverse, but at the same time we are united as Indian," Rina Modak says. "We have so many different types of food and music and languages - we wanted to bring all of them together in one cohesive platform, where we could see diversity, at the same time we can have fun and learn from each other."

The education aspect was an important part of the design, Subhendu Modak says.

"Indians can enjoy their culture, no matter from which part, which state, (the) same way those who doesn't know about India, they can learn about India, what type of culture, what type of food," he says.

Nath says organizing the festival has been a learning process, but she says there is so much to show about India to the Milwaukee community, that it could easily be scaled up.

"We’re doing it for the first time, but we definitely have the vision and the tenacity to take it to the next level," Nath says. "We’re foreseeing that next year, it’s going to scale up to at least two days, if not three days."