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IAKC Bridges Communities Through Indian Culture

Anyone with a penchant for the aromatic flavors of Indian food, the vibrant colors of a fine Sari, or a sporting game of cricket, may dream of traveling to the Jewel of the East. However, thanks to the India Association of Kansas City (IAKC), one needn’t make a journey overseas to enjoy these sensory delights.

IAKC represents a wealth of Indian culture locally. Usha Saha, president at IAKC, said, “The organization’s mission is to preserve and promote Indian cultural heritage by way of performances, festivals, sporting, and educational events.” To that end, IAKC collaborates with organizations both locally and globally to promote cultural exchange and community involvement. 

One such collaboration is Passport to India, which is presented to the public in partnership with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This year’s event was held on April 21st and showcased Indian culture and heritage through art and a variety of cultural activities. This included classical and Bollywood dance performances, live music, and more.

In addition, the beloved cultural expo, India Fest, will take place on August 11th. Abhiruchi Singh, secretary at IAKC, said the event is expected to attract more than 12,000 people. This unique event provides an opportunity for the wider community to experience the tastes, sights, and sounds of Indian culture. Visitors can expect exhibitions, live music and dance performances, and culinary delights. 

As well as showcasing Indian culture, IAKC fosters diversity and cultural understanding. Usha indicated that among the executive staff, cultures vary. While each represents a subset of Indian culture, their customs are different. In this way, as well as by welcoming the general public, IAKC champions cultural harmony. “Because India is a sweeping nation, cultures, language, and cuisine differ from region to region,” said Raj Mishra, vice president at IAKC. “Even in India, we have many cultures, many languages, and many religions. But once we are here under IAKC, we see this all coming together.”

In addition, IAKC provides opportunities for young members of the local Indian community to learn about their culture. “A lot of kids are born and brought out here,” Abhiruchi said. “They do not understand the culture as well as we, who have actually been brought up in India.” 

India Nite 2023
The IAKC team enjoyed Republic Day. Pictured are (Front row) Anjana Singh, Maninder Pabla, Shanthy Vinjimoor, Gagan Kaur, Sonia Rawal, Nidhi Sood, Nisha Bhagchandani, Meenu Kamboj, Usha Saha, Renu Agarwal, Sunitha Prabhushankar, Richa Joshi, Suchita Kulshekar, Shoba Umamaheswaran, and Abhiruchi Singh (back row) Ankush Oberoi, Sudha Tiwari, Neelam Raichura, Nivrati Saxena, Pratik Mehta, Srini Penugonda, Saurabh Chandak, Raj Cheedella, Deepak Thakur, Neelakandan Seshan, Rama Shetty, Gopinath Balakrishnan, and Raj Mishra.

For example, IAKC’s Republic Day is a celebration that includes a variety of games of Indian origin, some of which are mostly unknown in America. “Some of those were very Indian games that kids might not experience,” Abhiruchi said. “It’s opening up their minds to all of the experiences and bringing them together to learn about the culture.”

As well as cultural appreciation, IAKC focuses on promoting a positive image of Indian culture among the wider community. The organization also offers many opportunities for connection and collaboration. “There are people, professionals, entrepreneurs, and more who are connecting and collaborating and just making their social circle,” Usha said. “The members are coming together doing community services, volunteer projects – just giving back to the community and making a positive impact.” 

To learn more about attending an upcoming IAKC event and planning a cultural experience, visit the organization’s website at iakc.org. 

Featured in the May 4, 2024 issue of The Independent.
Photo Credit: Anubhav Visen
By Monica V. Reynolds

Monica V. Reynolds is an award-winning former reporter who honed her skills at a daily newspaper in Northeast Louisiana. After spending more than a decade in Austin, Texas, she recently moved to Our Town. Monica’s passion for journalism extends to documentary short filmmaking and photography. She is the founder of Vox Pop Marketing, an online marketing and web design firm that helps small businesses develop an authentic, magnetic message and online presence.


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