Archana, a celebration of Indian culture  is India Friends Association’s (IFA) annual fundraiser held in the spring of each year.  The celebration begins in the afternoon with an interactive India Festival where guests can enjoy food; learn the latest dance moves, and experience arts, crafts, textiles and more.

The evening program is a multimedia event that showcases India’s cultural richness and diversity through Indian dance, music and drama, featuring a cast of over a hundred local children and adults. While guests will feel transported to India for a fun-filled cultural evening, Archana also serves a higher purpose, to highlight issues that perpetuate cycles of poverty in India and to involve the community in IFA’s work.  All the performers and artists donate their services.

“IFA is different because all projects that are funded are identified and monitored by IFA’s core members who are professionals such as physicians, engineers and business men and women. Supporters of IFA can feel confident in knowing their dollars are being well spent for the intended projects to empower the poor and fight corruption and the structural changes needed to support these efforts rather than being caught up in red tape,” explains Kailash Narayan, IFA President.

Archana means an offering, an offering to the performers and their families, building stronger family bonds, creating cultural pride and a sense of accomplishment. Jyoti Sahai, IFA Board Member organizes the children’s item each year.  “It is truly a joy to work with the children, to watch their self esteem grow. For many of them, it’s their first time on stage. Participating in Archana creates interest in a whole new arena of performing arts.”

Seven-year-old participant Anshul Bajaj says, “I like to sing and love to dance and I get to help poor children in India. I love being Indian and sharing my culture with friends.” For his mom, Madhu Bajaj, Anshul’s participation is a family priority. “We want our son to realize the importance of giving back to the community. Archana provides an amazing way for young children to make a difference while learning about Indian culture and meeting new friends. In today’s “me” focused world, I love that we can teach our children about the collective good and helping others.”n

Saturday, May 5. India Festival, Noon-4 p.m.  Free. Archana: 4 p.m. Tickets: General $40, students $20; VIP $75. Fred Kavli Theater, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. www.indiafriendsassociation.org, madhubajaj@gmail.com.

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