Hampton Roads gets a “Taste of India”

Roughly 10,000 event goers filled the Ted Constant Convocation Center Sunday to get a “Taste of India,” one of the largest Asian-Indian festivals held in Virginia.

Photos: Taste of India

There were exciting opportunities to experience Indian food, dances, shopping and art.

Raji Kaloji, an executive member for the Taste of India, said this is the ninth-annual event, however, Indian heritage and traditions date back 3,000 years.

“We do classes for the children at the temple, but we love sharing it with all the non-Indians as well,” said Kaloji. “The music, the dance, again all that dates back to 3,000 years and it’s just beautiful. So we enjoy sharing that with the people of Hampton Roads.”

Kaloji said another important purpose of the event is to give back to communities. In the aftermath of Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal, which neighbors India to the northeast, reportedly more than 2,500 are left dead while many remain missing. A follow-up 6.8 earthquake Sunday created more chaos in the area, hindering rescue efforts. There has been an outpouring of relief support around the world, including right here in Hampton Roads. Kaloji said they donated about $5,000 to disaster relief.

“It was very heartbreaking last night when we saw that,” said Kaloji. “It was just all of a sudden. So we sat down, the executive chair, and we decided on it, then announced (a donation) during the inauguration.”

Giving back also includes right here in Hampton Roads. Every year the event provides scholarship money to a graduating senior, selected by the Virginian-Pilot.

“It just so happens that an Asian-Indian girl was selected for the first time, she is from Princess Anne,” said Kaloji. “So that’s a scholarship we support for charity, as well as sharing our culture with the community.”

Many of the other events at the festival included many learning activities such as a lego fair, a science competition and an art contest. Previously they have done other activities such as spelling bee and other educational activities, which were all build-up events before The Taste of India commenced. Kaloji explained why it is important for parents to expose their children to events like this.

“We are trying to make this family-friendly and we want people to bring their kids because this is a growing generation,” said Kaloji. “A smart kid should be aware of all the different cultures in the world.”

For more information, visit toihr.com and hindutemplehr.org.