The San Francisco Bay Area is often referred to as a salad bowl when it comes to how immigrants and their children engage with American culture and society. Which parts of our cultural identity we keep and which parts we shed is a daily negotiation.
CatchLight Local Fellow, Sree Sripathy, set out to explore this dynamic through portraits and interviews with Bay Area Indians. The resulting series, We Belong, is a collaboration between India Currents and the CatchLight Local Visual Desk that features a community member or family twice monthly.
Portraits from this project are on exhibit at ODC Theater in San Francisco now until Oct. 2. If you are in or near the Bay Area, please join us in person on Sept. 15 and 29 at ODC, where Sree will share more about the making and meaning of We Belong.
Watch: Behind the Lens with Sree Sripathy
“I feel like I have these multiple identities: Indian, South Indian, Californian, American, Bay Area, Girl. How all these identities converge into your own culture is fascinating to me. When you break it down into layers, it’s only then when you realize how rich and how nuanced a lot of this is, and you’re never gonna find that in mainstream media.” – SREE SRIPATHY
The Couple That Grows Together
📍 LOS ALTOS, CA
Viggy (right) and Manjula Mokkarala walk in the vineyard where they grow Pinot Noir grapes behind their Los Altos Hills home on February 7, 2023. The gardening couple became winemakers not to sell wine, but rather to gift it to friends and family. “We love wine, and we like growing things,” said Manjula. “So we thought that’d be a good combination.” Read more »
The Best of Both Worlds
📍 FREMONT, CA
Tanya Gupta was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a recent college graduate in computer science. She is also an anchor and reporter for Sitaarre TV and loves singing Bollywood music. “I was lucky to be raised in a way where my parents never forced the Indian culture on me,” said Gupta. “I got to choose what I wanted to see in Indian culture and what I got to take from Western culture. I never felt conflicted.” Read more »
Dancing in Her Father’s Footsteps
📍 SAN RAFAEL, CA
Saadhvi Das, 10, holds a commemorative plate given to her late father, legendary Kathak dancer, Pandit Chitresh Das. She says she feels closer to her father when holding the plate. Saadhvi is learning kathak at the Chitresh Das Institute, where her mother, Celine Schein Das, serves as executive director. “I would like to try and dance as long as I can,” says Saadhvi. “And I want to learn more about my history and about India itself.”
The Chitresh Das Institute, an exhibition partner for We Belong, will honor India Currents magazine on Sept. 29 with the 2023 Arts Seva Award for its coverage and support of classical Indian arts. The award ceremony will be followed by the kathak dance performances, Invoking the River and 13 Matra.
📍 LIVERMORE, CA
Chief priest Pandit Sampath Sridharan throws sanctified water in the air on the final day of the Maha Kumbabhishekam at the Shiva-Vishnu Temple in Livermore, California. The Maha Kumbhabhishekam, which happens once every 12 years, is a set of rituals performed over a five-day period to restore and reset the energy of the temple. This month, we are excited to share to a collection of some of our favorite photos from Sree Sripathy’s local coverage for India Currents.
Thank you for reading! This newsletter was edited by Mabel Jiménez, Jenny Stratton, and Maz Ali. If you have questions, feedback, or visual reporting from your community you would like to share, email us at email@example.com.