A taste and flair of Indian culture while improving social consciousness is coming to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on May 6.
The 23rd annual Archana fundraiser will showcase Indian dance, music, drama and video clips that highlight ongoing efforts to help the underprivileged in India. The event is held each spring by nonprofit organization India Friends Association (IFA) and takes three months to organize. The colorful and energizing show features a cast of more than 300 local adults and children who volunteer their time and talent for the cause. Each year about 800 to 1,000 attendees enjoy the unique sights and sounds Archana provides.
According to Kailash Narayan, longtime IFA volunteer, this year’s theme, “Sharing for Survival,” will focus on how sharing helps people grow and survive.
“The main reason why Archana is so successful is because several volunteers visit the projects in India and spend time with the people,” Narayan explained. “They see what is happening and we try to incorporate the records of what they saw into the show.”
New additions to the show this year include a Bollywood aerobics dance and a reenactment of Indian holy text through dance and drama. A total of eight performances at about 12 minutes each will be highlighted, along with a 30-minute music medley. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience music from all of the different states of India while dance performances will include a mix of Bollywood, tribal and regional folk dances.
“We try to be inclusive and representative of the people we are,” Narayan said.
Short drama skits will also center around the sharing theme. For example, one performance involves more privileged families who try to limit their intake of food during periodic times of famine as a show of support for less fortunate villagers. Other skits and dance performances will focus on aspects such as people causing extreme pollution or women lacking job opportunities while dealing with stress management.
“When you start sharing, it helps you move forward as opposed to a lack of sharing,” Narayan said. “The idea is that unless we share our stories and our experiences, in some ways it traces back to the lack of sharing.”
Proceeds from the event will be donated to 20 IFA-supported organizations throughout India that help fight corruption, improve governance, obtain employment and health care and protect the environment, with the two largest ones being the Society for Rural Improvement, which provides microcredit to women in order for them to develop sustainable lives, and the Rejuvenate India Movement, which helps reduce child malnutrition through existing government health and nutrition programs that target almost 5,000 children in 30 villages. In 2016, donations totaled $98,000 from all IFA projects.
“We want every dollar to help support the projects in India,” Narayan said. “Most donors not only believe in the cause but also believe that the IFA organizers are sincere and committed.”
Narayan said he hopes that attendees take away the concept that when people donate, they are helping not only others but also themselves.
“Everyone donates for the higher cause,” Narayan said. “The performers also come with a commitment to move the audience. It has a way of building on itself.”
Archana 2017 will take place on Saturday, May 6, at the Fred Kavli Theater at the Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. For tickets and more information, visit www.indiafriendsassociation.org.