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Monday, August 11, 2014

Festival celebrating Indian independence and democracy to take place August 15

NASHUA – India marks 68 years of independence from Britain this Friday and for the first time Nashua will honor that historic day with a special celebration.

“We want to blend American and Indian culture and heritage, by showcasing music that is indigent to both countries,” said Latha Mangipudi, New Hampshire’s first Indian legislator and the driving force behind the event, which is being co-hosted by the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce. ...

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NASHUA – India marks 68 years of independence from Britain this Friday and for the first time Nashua will honor that historic day with a special celebration.

“We want to blend American and Indian culture and heritage, by showcasing music that is indigent to both countries,” said Latha Mangipudi, New Hampshire’s first Indian legislator and the driving force behind the event, which is being co-hosted by the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

“The idea of celebrating Indian Independence Day and Democracy came to me in light of the recent election in India. Over 300 million voters came out. It was a very tasteful transition of government,” said Mangipudi, who represents Nashua’s Ward 8 in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Mangipudi approached Chris Williams, the chamber president, with the idea a couple of months ago.

“India has its own version of July 4 on August 15 – how cool would it be for India to celebrate its Independence Day as the largest democracy in the world with the oldest democracy in the world, the United States?” said Williams.

Williams said he has been looking for ways to reach out to the Indian community in Nashua.

“This bridge can have tremendous benefits for both the Indian community and for our city in general, by inviting and encouraging more stakeholders from the Indian community to engage more deeply in our city’s business, social and political dynamics,” he said.

The Indian population in Nashua is the second largest minority group behind Hispanic Americans at 6 percent, according to Williams.

“It’s doubled over the past decade, growing faster than the Hispanic population. There are 100 businesses across Nashua run by owners of Indian descent,” he said.

“From where I sit, those are very important and interesting statistics that tell me the city needs to build a bridge to the Indian community – to build leadership and participation from the Indian community,” he said.

Mangipudi said the event is a great opportunity to showcase the city’s diversity.

“I’m so proud to be American, my host country has embraced me,” she said.

The free event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Rotary Commons Park located near the Adult Learning Center.

The festival will feature, among other things, Indian cuisine and ethnic musical performances. Gov. Maggie Hassan will deliver a state commendation and India’s flag will fly at City Hall from August 11 through the 15.

“There’s so much conflict and unrest around the world, we have the opportunity to celebrate a peaceful transition of government,” said Mangipudi who linked American and Indian democracies.

“The writings of Thoreau influenced Gandhi to influence independence in India, and Gandhi’s nonviolent movement influenced Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she said.

Mangipudi noted the event’s location holds special significance as well.

“Rotary Commons has kind of evolved into a sacred space,” she said, noting the Holocaust Memorial, Labyrinth and Peace Garden are located there.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).