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Asian Festival - 2008

Ranjani Saigal

The fifth annua Asian Cultural Festival was held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Gene J. DeFeudis Italian American Cultural Center, 28 Mulberry St. A celebration of festive costumes, music, dance, food and native customs from numerous Asian countries, the event was chaired by Dr. Sahdev Passey . Countries featured in this year’s festival were Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, India, China and Thailand.

As we wandered into the event seacrhing for Caroline and Sahdev Passey we found them  selling samosas and gulab jamun at the Indian booth. "It is so wonderful to see the crowd. The variety of performances is terrific .Just look at the colors and costume on stage" said Dr. Passey.

“Originally, the event was known as the Southeast Asian Festival,” said Oanh Nguyen, president of the Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts. “As time went on, more people became interested in the festival and more people from other Asian countries wanted to become part of it.”

Many members of the Indian Society of Worcester presented items. Choreographies of Mithali Biswas and the Nirthyalaya group lit up the stage.

Andrew Wong, a mantis kung fu instructor at the Mantis Kung Fu Tai Chi Institute, opened the program with his students , performing a traditional Chinese lion dance and a kung fu segment.

Through fundraising and sponsorship from local businesses and institutions such as Trang Pharmacy, Seven Hills Foundation and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the region’s Southeast Asian Coalition has been able to provide five $500 scholarships to students of Asian descent residing in the Central Massachusetts area.

“This is the organization’s third year giving away scholarships,” Dr. Passey said. “The recipients are determined through community service and grades. With more funding, we hope to provide more awards to the youth and volunteers.”

The 2008 recipients of the Asian Festival Scholarship Fund are Linda Cao, Joseph Ha, Angel Lam, Hung Nguyen and Vuanh Nguyen.

“This year, we hoped to showcase our culture,” she said. We each have a different culture to display. We want to educate the community about the diversity of Asia. Asians are proud of their heritage.”

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