North Bergen’s “Taste of India” festival, a popular celebration in town, went off without a hitch on May 11.
This year, hundreds of attendees, both local and from far and wide, made their way down to the North Bergen Library’s Kennedy Branch parking lot to take part in the celebration of all things Indian culture.
“Today, we are all dignitaries, because today, we all celebrate India, and the wonderful Indian community we have here in North Bergen and Hudson County,” Mayor Nicholas Sacco announced when he kicked off the events.
The purpose of the festival was to celebrate and appreciate the cultural heritage of Hudson County’s Indian community, with plenty of educational substance to go along.
Participants showcased traditional performing arts, culture, history, and spiritual practices. The festival, now in its third year, came back to town again due to popular demand.
The festivities were kicked off by consecutive renditions of the American National Anthem, sung by North Bergen resident Mathy Pillai, and the Indian National Anthem, which was sung by a group of mothers and daughters.
Music, chatter, and the smell of fresh cooking filled the air under a massive tent, which covered a gathering space with abundant supplies of free food, a main stage, and plenty of sitting room for audiences. Many attendees donned cultural clothing, jewelry, and intricate henna tattoos, to exude festive looks.
On sound duty was emcee Don De Leo, along with North Bergen High School teacher Brian Bonacci, who worked as a sound technician.
The event was open to all, and everyone was welcome to fill their plates and watch traditional dance performances from Jersey City’s Khushi Dance Academy and Surati Dance Academy, North Bergen’s Kalai Aham Dance School, along with a solo performance by Ishita Mantripragada.
The massive buffet provided to the crowd by local restaurants Curry On and Godavari was stacked with options and abundance. There were samosas, curries, sauces, naan, chutneys and rices galore for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
The dance arrangements, which held deep cultural and religious significance, meshed seamlessly with the traditional, multi-instrumental folk music performances put on by a few local musicians.
All of North Bergen’s local officials were present at the event, as were many other officials, Library Director Sai Rao, Parking Authority Director Bob Baselice, Assemblyman Pedro Mejia, and Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari.
Along with the library staff, plenty of volunteers, first responders, municipal employees helped keep things running smoothly.