HI INDIA NEWS DESK
ST. LOUIS, MO- After a hiatus of 2 years, Bal Vihar was ready for a showcase in person, of one of its signature events – India’s Republic Day. This year India celebrated its 74th Republic Day on January 26th, 2023. With the pandemic nearly behind us, Bal Vihar students, teachers and volunteers put together a fabulous display of India’s culture, heritage, food and almost everything in between.
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Center for Indian Cultural Education- a.k.a. Bal Vihar of St. Louis celebrated the event on January 29, 2023. With over 400 in attendance, it was nowhere short of an extraordinary event. For Republic Day event, every year, students from grade 2-7 are assigned a state of India and higher grades are often assigned categories. Students then do the research about that state and put together display using poster boards and crafts while also showcasing any artifacts that they can lay their hands on. The focus this year was on Andhra Pradesh, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal and Tourism in India. Kindergarten students were dressed up to represent the respective state of India they belong to. 1st grade students were dressed up as a famous personality from India.
Special guests for this occasion included Betsy Cohen – Executive Director of St. Louis Mosaic Project, Beth Fitzgerald- President of Magic House, Marlyn Chambers-Director of STEM program at St. Louis Science Center, Kira Hegeman- St. Louis Arts Museum, Dr. Vijaya Ramani- Professor at Washington University alongside some community leaders including Dr. Chandrakant Tailor, Arun Tailor, Dr. Sharad Parikh, and Dr. Vijay Buddhiraju.
The guests were split into 2 groups and asked to review the booths and grade them on various aspects like information, display and enthusiasm. First group reviewed the booths of grade 2-4 and the other group visited booths from grade 5-7. Guests enjoyed learning about these states of India and interacting with the students while visiting their booth. You could sense the pride that the students demonstrated when sharing the outcome of their research.
After the judges completed their review of the booths, parents and visitors were allowed to visit these booths to admire the effort pulled together by the students. Parents were impressed with how well versed the students appeared on the state that was at display at their booth. It was a sight to see the students dressed in vibrant and colorful Indian attire.
Flag hoisting of United States and Indian national flag took place after the booth reviews. The event culminated with Bal Vihar Orchestra led by Tarini Karnati and Shreyas Iyer play the nation anthem of India and United States. Master of the Ceremony was Rashmi Korukonda from the Bal Vihar youth group. The results of their review was shared with the students at the end of the ceremony.
Center for Indian Cultural Education – Bal Vihar of St. Louis, a non-profit organization, with current enrollment of 325 + students since its inception in 1992 has been serving the Metro St. Louis Indian community. The primary focus of this organization is to provide Indian cultural education to students age 5-18, its application and integration with the global multicultural and multifaceted society. They are also taught discipline, tolerance and devotion in their daily routine. The ultimate goal is “to throw the light of cultural knowledge on every child, to make every child an outstanding citizen and to spread the song of peace and harmony around the world.”