The tastes and culture of India will be on display during Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally.
A Mini Indian Festival will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, 411 Third Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.
Bottle Works executive director Rosemary Pawlowski said the festival is being offered as an ethnic alternative to Thunder.
“It’s not to be competitive,” she said.
“Fun is what it’s all about. We’ve done a lot of Indian through the years – food, dance and exhibits. The goal of the festival is to raise awareness of India’s culture and traditions.”
The organizers of the event are Rani Murali of Westmont and Manesha Nigam of Richland Township.
Pawlowski called Murali a committed Johnstown activist.
“Rani has been a community member forever,” Pawlowski said.
“She’s a member of the Garden Club and does flower arranging. She is an accomplished cook and proud of her culture. She had a dinner here about two months ago and said she would like to be involved in bringing a little taste of India to Johnstown.”
Food for the festival will feature Murali’s fresh samosas with chutney and mango drinks.
A samosa is a fried or baked pastry with a savory filling such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, ground lamb or chicken.
They are a popular appetizer or snack in India.
Murali’s samosas will be served with chutney, a condiment that can consist of spices and vegetables or fruits.
The Indian food will be available throughout the afternoon for a small donation.
Bollywood Believe, a local dance troupe, will provide entertainment.
Nigam, who is assistant professor of chemistry at Pitt-Johnstown, has a daughter, Aditi Sridhar, in the group.
Other members are Tulsi Shrivastava, Ishika Singh and Nadia Khan.
Nigam said the girls started dancing for Indian festivals that the Johnstown Regional Indian Subcontinent Association organized.
The girls, who were as young as 5 when they started, relied on their parents to choreograph dances.
As they developed as dancers, they choreographed their own dances.
“They’re enthusiastic,” Nigam said.
“They’ll dance anywhere.”
The dance group has performed more than 15 times at events in the Johnstown area, including an “Around the World” summer reading program at Highland Community Library, the Cambria County Reading Council and at Pitt-Johnstown for an International Student Association program.
“Lately, they’ve been performing for the non-Indian population,” Nigam said.
“They have a good balance of Indian and American culture. They want to introduce Indian culture to America.”
For the Mini Indian Festival, dancers will perform on the hour, and there will be opportunities for communal dancing with the audience.
“We’re thrilled that parents are passing on the importance of and maintaining the ethnic tradition,” Pawlowski said.
“This is not really traditional Indian dance, it’s like Indian hip-hop. It’s an improvisation of the traditional dance.”
The traditional art of hand henna tattoos also will be demonstrated.
These are not true tattoos because they are applied on the surface of the skin, usually on the hands and feet, rather than underneath the skin.
What: Mini Indian Festival.
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, 411 Third Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.