Shrewsbury library celebrates ‘Holi’
By Rebecca Kensil, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury Public Library hosted its second annual Spring Multicultural Festival March 23 with Bollywood and Indian folk dances. The dances were performed by students from the Shaila School of Dance as well as students of teacher Kalaimangai Anbalagan. The event celebrated “Holi, the Festival of Colors,” which signifies the start of spring in India.
Dancers prepared for their performances for three months, according to Shaila Verma, owner of Shaila School of Dance. They performed traditional and modern dances to songs from popular Bollywood movies “Student of the Year” and “My Brother’s Bride.” The teachers, Verma and Anbalagan, also performed with their students. The event also featured a fashion show, choreographed by Verma, which showcased the vibrant colors of Indian dresses.
This festival is one of four multicultural festivals that the library’s Multicultural Advisory Team, created in 2012 by Reference Librarian Priya Rathnam, hosts to mark the changing seasons and recognize the many cultures represented in Shrewsbury.
Last summer, the library celebrated “Crepes Around the World.” The Multicultural Advisory Team prepared French, Mexican, Southern Indian, and Chinese crepes for guests. In the fall, the library hosted a “Moon Cake Festival,” which recognized the Chinese harvest festival. The library showcased Chinese calligraphy, traditional music pieces, martial arts, dances, and a demonstration on how to make moon cakes. In January, the library hosted a “Latin American Music and Dance Festival,” which featured Puerto Rican folk music and Portuguese songs. Students of the Salsa Storm Studio performed a “Ladies Styling” routine. Scheduled for this summer is a Middle Eastern music and dance-themed event.
Rathnam created the Multicultural Advisory Team, she said, because she noticed there were many people from different cultures coming into the library.
“Shrewsbury and the neighboring towns in central Mass. are getting more and more culturally diverse and we, at the library, feel that it’s important to make everyone feel welcome here,” she said. “The library reflects the growing diversity in the community and by organizing such programs, not only are we encouraging young talent but we’re also fostering an appreciation of various cultures.”
In addition to Rathnam, the members of the team include Yingdan Xue (from China), Sabina
Terrades (from France), Sneh Jaisingh (from India), and Elida Valdez (from Mexico). The events are sponsored by the Shrewsbury Friends of the Library. Rathnam said she welcomes suggestions for future programs and invites people to join the team.
Rathnam said that the community reaction to the multicultural festivals has been positive.
“Longtime residents of the community feel that it is an opportunity for them to learn about different cultures, and for the immigrants, they feel happy and validated and consider the library to be a home away from home,” she said.
Here are a few pictures from the event:
Click the link below to see a video of students from the Shaila School of Dance and Kalaimangai Anbalagan dancing at the festival as well as comments from Rathnam.
Photos and video/Rebecca Kensil
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