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Discover India Festival in Heritage Square Park Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

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A little warm drizzle in no way dampened the spirits of thousands of people who showed up at the Discover India Festival at Heritage Square and Science Park on Sunday in downtown Phoenix. 

In fact, you'd swear the India Association of Phoenix, in collaboration with its other sister and non-profit organizations based on Indian heritage here in Arizona, had actually imported a real monsoon for authentic ambience on its 10th festival anniversary. 

The lively festival, which features cultural shows, food, jewelry, and clothing vendors plus a generous dollop of Bollywood dancing, coincides with one of India's biggest holidays -- Diwali, the festival of lights for Hindus and Jains.

As our Valley's East Indian population has mushroomed, so has this colorful cultural celebration, which had its start, if I recall correctly, in a large room in Glendale. 

It's morphed into an extravaganza with two stages filled simultaneously with dancing from all parts of this ancient country and demonstrations of intriguing rituals (I'm still practicing tips from the sari wrapping demo that covered at least six different styles, depending on area of origin), not to mention a bewildering array of Indian food choices, informational booths on meditation and other spiritual practices, and sparkly Moghul-style costume jewelry straight out of that Bollywood classic, "Mughal-E-Azam." 

So many choices - so little time! Do I need to learn to tie a traditional turban? Does this salwar kameez make my butt look too big? How will I ever know the difference between hip-hop-tinged bhangra and cardio-busting gidda dancing? Tandoori chicken tikka or vegetarian samosas? How many sets of those shimmery Indian jewelry sets can I buy before my husband threatens divorce? 

The only thing wrong with this blowout is that it only lasts one day for a mere seven hours - maybe it's time to consider making this a full weekend event. 

 You'll probably agree once you've seen our slideshow of salient festival moments.

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