03 MARCH 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The art and culture, “Bollywood” films, diverse spiritual practices, and spicy foods of India are captivating the interests and palates of a rapidly growing international audience. India, in all its complexity and diversity, is the focus of a day-long celebration Saturday, 29 March 2008 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., as the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology presents Hello India! The special day features traditional music and dance presentations and workshops, theater, foods, yoga, history and cultural talks, films, craft activities, games and more. Hello India! is FREE with Penn Museum admission donation ($8 general admission; $5 students and seniors; free for children under 6, Penn Museum members and PENNcard holders).
Hello India! is co-sponsored by the Consulate of India in New York, University of Pennsylvania’s South Asia Center and South Asian Society; the Wharton India Club; Camden County College; the Bharatiya Cultural Center of Montgomeryville, Pa; and the Indian Association of South Jersey.
Music and dance have strong traditions in India, and Hello India! introduces visitors to a range of styles. Penn Nazrana, a University of Pennsylvania Indian culture group, performs several musical pieces including a ghazal, or poetic song, a Bollywood song, and a musical piece with competing traditional Indian instruments like the sitar and tabla (2:00 to 2:20 p.m., Lower Egyptian gallery). The Bharatiya Cultural Center picks up the pace with their Garba and Bollywood Dance Workshop (2:15 to 3:00 p.m., Upper Egyptian gallery). For the first half of their workshop, performers demonstrate the garba dance, a dance similar to western line dancing though done in a circle and religious in origin. The second half is dedicated to the Bollywood pop dance style of elaborately orchestrated classical dances.
Penn Thillana, Penn’s premier Indian classical dance group, provides the day’s closing performance with Classical Indian Dance featuring the Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Kathak dance styles, four of the main classical dance styles (3:15 to 3:40 p.m., Harrison Auditorium).
Visitors can get a dose of Indian cinema with the Bollywood film Kal ho naa ho, playing throughout the day. The film, featuring classic Bollywood song and dance numbers, is about an Indian-American girl living in New York with her family. (11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Classroom 2).
Visitors can experience dramatic Indian theater as performed by the Bharatiya Vidyalaya School (1:30 to 2:00 p.m., Harrison Auditorium). The school’s 25-30 students of all ages present Ramlila, a part of the classic Indian epic the Ramayana, a story that has been treasured for more than 2,000 years.
With its rich history and today, its rapidly changing society, India offers a tapestry of old and new art, culture and lifestyles, and Hello India! offers several short, illustrated talks to better acquaint visitors with the country. Suzanne Harris, a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, looks at the prehistoric origins of India with her talk “Indus Civilization of India and Pakistan (ca. 2500 – 1900 BC)” (11:15 to 11:45 a.m., Rainey Auditorium). Tanvi Kothari, currently a doctoral student at the Fox School of Business at Temple University, shares a glimpse of present-day society with her talk, “Daily Life in India” (12:00 to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:00 p.m., Classroom 1). Originally from Mumbai, India, Ms. Kothari shares information about language, the school system, politics, education, social customs, and urban life in India. Sanskrit scholar Dolores Pizarro, a fifth-year graduate student in South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, speaks on “The Literature of Ancient India” (12:30 to 1:00 p.m., Rainey Auditorium). Amruta Inamdar offers a talk, “Religions of India,” providing insight into a crucial aspect of Indian culture and history. (2:00 to 2:45 p.m., Rainey Auditorium)
Yoga, one of the most popular exercise forms in the United States today, has its roots in India. Two Vinyasa Yoga demonstrations by certified Yoga Instructor Lauren Brown introduce the ancient Indian practice that stretches the body and mind. Visitors may partake in this relaxing practice (12:00 to 12:45 p.m. and again at 1:30 to 2:15 p.m., Nevil Classroom).
For those who work up an appetite, Penn Museum’s International Classroom coordinator Prema Deshmukh from Hirehonnihalli, India offers a food demonstration. Attendees will learn how to make and use garam masala, a curry powder of cloves, cardamon, cinnamon, cumin and corriandor, (12:45 to 1:15 p.m., Lower Egyptian gallery). The Museum Café features Indian menu items, as well as its selection of continent and family-friendly foods, for lunch or a quick snack.
India is a country rich in traditional regional arts and crafts, and visitors will have an opportunity to try one such craft, Rangoli, a kind of sand painting, at an ongoing workshop for families. Heena Desai, originally from Gujrat, India and a member of the Indian Association of South Jersey, leads the workshop, inviting attendees to use colored sand, lentils and flowers to create Rangoli designs. Created as wall or floor art, Rangoli is commonly found outside homes in India. (11:00 a.m. To 2:00 p.m., Pepper Gallery).
Penn Museum’s Chinese Rotunda is the setting for fun, fashion and games, presented throughout the afternoon. Visitors can have their hands decorated with beautiful henna art (first come, first served), and learn to play Indian games such as Aadu Puli Aatam (Game of the Goat and the Tiger) and Makshatra Vilayattu (Game of the Stars).
Also in the Rotunda, Leah Lowthorp, Ph.D. candidate in Folklore and Anthropology at Penn, shares her research on Koodiyattam Sanskrit Theater in Kerala, India, and shows visitors how to make authentic dance masks. Fashion conscious visitors can admire a range of Indian saries—the traditional dress for women— with saris on display and modeled by volunteers. Haimanti Banerjee, Outreach Coordinator of the South Asia Center at the University of Pennsylvania, will show visitors how to wear and wrap a sari and provides information on the origins and designing styles of some traditional saris.
Just off of the Rotunda, Penn Museum’s exhibition Buddhism: History and Diversity of a Great Tradition features ancient art and artifacts from India, where the Buddhist tradition originated.
Hello India! is the newest event in Penn Museum’s popular “world culture day” series of programs, designed to introduce visitors of all ages to the rich cultural traditions found throughout the Museum’s galleries—and indeed, throughout the world.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at http://www.penn.museum.