The Hindu Culture and Dharmic Tradition from India exhibition was displayed over a period of five days at THE ST. PETERSBURG INTERNATIONAL FOLK FAIR (SPIFFS). The event was sponsored by the city of St. Petersburg and was held at the VINOY PARK in downtown St Petersburg from Wednesday March 14th through Sunday March 18th. A total of 32 countries participated, each displaying their unique traditions, art, culture, folklore, foods etc. in their respective village.
Volunteers of India Culture and Arts Society (VICAS) coordinated the activities within the “INDIA VILLAGE” where an array of colorful clothes, art, paintings, jewelry and lots of food, were on display. Tampa chapter of HSS, volunteered to display the exhibition and provide education and information on the cultural aspects of India.
The event was limited to students (K-12th grade) and teachers on Wednesday 3/14—Friday 3/16. About 10,000 students and teachers from 4 Florida counties (Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco) visited the Fair. Some of the most frequently asked questions from the students were: "What is the meaning of Namaste?", "How to say "good bye” and “thank you” in Hindi?" and "What do the colors of the Indian Flag signify?" Whilst manning the booth we were approached by a teacher who made the comment, that of the booths she had visited that day, the India booth was the only one where she learnt something. The general public visited the fair on Saturday 3/17 and Sunday 3/18.The response to the exhibition was overwhelming.
Visitors were very enthusiastic and eager to learn more about India, Hinduism, Yoga, Ayurveda, and Astronomy. Some frequently asked questions were: "What is the meaning of the Tilak?", "What is the meaning/significance of some of our religious festivals?", "What is meaning of the OM symbol?". An explanation of the basics of VEDIC MATH was done by Joel Brown (Tampa Shakha)to an attentive audience of about 20 youth. In the mid afternoon on Saturday Mayor of St Petersburg Mr. Rick Baker and his family attended the “ Village”, viewed the exhibition and had some very positive comments. A visitor from Georgia asked if we could come to Georgia with the exhibition to attend their cultural festival. She said that they were unable to find someone in Georgia to provide this kind of information.