A rope is never stronger than when every thread in its makeup is at its strongest.
Likewise, a country is never stronger than when every nationality within its population is known, appreciated and celebrated.
Our own country has attracted people from every corner of the earth, but we often know some of the people who make up our nation's fiber better than we know others.
Dancer Kamala Reddy will perform traditional dances from India at ``Glimpses of India,' a fundraiser for WCA Hospital, at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, next Saturday.
One nationality which is small in numbers, in this area, but is very prominent, is people from India. There are, according to an estimation from one of them, between 10 and 15 Indian families in the Chautauqua County area.
Those families have decided to share the facts about their country of origin and the rich and varied culture to be found there, at an evening event, next Saturday at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, on West Fourth St., in downtown Jamestown.
They call their event ''Glimpses of India: A Taste of Indian Food and Culture.'' It is a fundraiser for the WCA Hospital Auxiliary. Specifically, the money from the event will go toward the three-year pledge made by the WCA Hospital Auxiliary, to contribute $106,000 toward the hospital's capital campaign, in support of new emergency room facilities.
I'd like to give you all the statistics which I have about next Saturday's big event, and then share with you some of the research which I did about India, to give you a taste of what you can learn about, if you attend.
Let me also refer you to Dave Emke's article about the event, which was printed in last Sunday's edition of the Post-Journal, which deals more with the people who will be presenting Glimpses of India and their stories.
FACTS ABOUT ''GLIMPSES''
''Glimpses of India'' will begin next Saturday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person. The presenters will sell some tickets at the door, but I'm certain you understand that in order to plan the amount of food to prepare, etc. they need most of their guests to purchase their tickets in advance.
You can purchase the tickets at the WCA Hospital Gift Shop, or by telephone, by phoning 664-1365, or 450-1244.
According to Rama Chalikonda, who is helping to present the event, the program will begin with welcoming the guests. A taste of some Indian snacks, with light beverages will follow.
There will be a slide show, which allows you to see some of the actual cities and countryside of India, as well as some of their history and culture, and then a performance of traditional dance, performed by Kamala Reddy, of Pittsburgh.
Ms. Reddy is a doctor - an endocrinologist - but she has performed as a dancer throughout India and the U.S., and is considered one of the leading exponents of Kuchipudi, which my computer tells me is a style of classical dance which is extensively performed, especially in Southern India. She has also been active in efforts to blend her own dance style with those of other cultures, both eastern and western.
When her performance has finished, there will be a dance by young dancers from the Jamestown area, which is a fusion of eastern and contemporary western styles, after which dinner will be served, which will include appetizer, main course, and dessert.
Indian music will be played throughout dinner.
When guests are finished eating, there will be a period of free time, during which there will be some demonstrations of Indian culture, including the creation of henna tattoos, which can range from small to quite extensive, but which are temporary colorings of the skin which will eventually completely disappear.
The host families will circulate among the guests and talk about their country of origin, and answer all the questions which they can.
Working on the event with Mr. Chalikonda is his daughter, Mrs. Uma Vejendla, and Mrs. Renu Gupta. He told me that there will be no vendors, nor anyone selling clothing or jewelry, etc., at the coming event, but if it is successful, they would like to turn it into an annual event, which would have more elements to attract the public's attention.
FACTS ABOUT INDIA
Words are wonderful things, but they can mean different things to different people.
For example, the name ''America'' can mean the territory governed by the Constitution of the United States of America, or it can mean the entire western hemisphere, from Chile and Argentina in the south, to the sub-arctic islands of northern Canada. If you're using one definition and you're talking with someone who is using the other definition, your conversation is going to be far from satisfactory.
There is a geographical India, which includes the political Republic of India, as well as the independent countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh. The three countries separated from one another politically, shortly after the end of World War II. We'll be speaking of the Republic of India, as it is described by a variety of internet sites.
Relatively few Americans know that India has another official name, which is equally appropriate to use. It is also called Bharat.
The country is the seventh largest country in the world, by physical land size, and has the second largest population: more than 1.18 billion people. It is the democracy with the largest population in the world.
It is shaped roughly like a diamond, and is located on the south central coastline of Asia. It has 4,700 miles of coastline.
Historically, India has been considered by western countries as part of the Far East, or what was once called the Orient, rather than part of the Middle East, which it borders.
India's economy is ranked as the seventh largest in the world, based on Gross Domestic Product, or fourth in the world, based on purchasing power parity. Since economic reforms were made in the early 1990s, it has had one of the fastest developing economies in the world.
The capital city of India is New Delhi, and its largest city is Mumbai, which was once called Bombay, during the domination of the country by the British Empire. Other cities with more than 10 million people are Delhi and Kolkata, which was formerly called Calcutta. Despite the size of these urban areas, roughly 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas.
The official language is India is Hindi, and English is their ''subsidiary official language.'' The country has a long list of 22 regional languages which are spoken in specific areas, ranging from Assamese to Urdu.
The country is a federal constitutional republic, with a parliamentary democracy consisting of 28 states and seven union territories. The official name of the parliament is the Sansad. At the time of this writing, the country's president is Pratibha Patil. Their prime minister is Manmohan Singh.
The president is elected by the population, although not directly. The constitution provides for an electoral college, not unlike our own. The Prime Minister is traditionally chosen by the party which holds a majority in the Sansad, although he is officially named to office by the president.
As in other parliamentary systems, all ministers who head up the country's executive departments, must first be elected to one of the two houses of the Sansad, before they can be named to a ministry.
India has the third-largest standing army in the world, and is known to be a nuclear weapon possessor.
Four of the world's major religions originated in India: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Many other religions are practiced within the country, including Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. India has the third-largest Muslim population of any country in the world, and the highest Muslim population of any country which is not predominantly Islamic. Muslims make up just over 13 percent of the Indian population.
The majority of Indians - just over 80 percent - identify themselves as Hindus.
India is so large that it is usually referred to as a subcontinent. Geologists say that the land on which the country is located was once part of the southern super continent which they call Gondwana, but that it has drifted in a northeastern direction, from near the coast of South Africa, colliding with the main land mass of Asia after 50 million years in transit. The collision, with India sliding beneath the Asian mass, resulted in the creation of the Himalaya Mountains, the highest range on the surface of the earth.
The Himalayas, which include the world's highest mountain, Mt. Everest, are so high and so densely close together that cold, dry winds from central Asia are virtually blocked from blowing into India. That makes the country's temperatures higher and their climate wetter than other countries at a similar latitude.
To best appreciate the size of India, locate it on a globe, rather than on a flat map. The earth is round, but maps are square, so it is necessary to distort land masses near the north and south poles, to portray them on a flat map, by stretching them, side-to-side, making them appear larger than they are, while lands near the equator, including India, seem smaller, by comparison.
Obviously, this is just a very shallow overview of the facts, and the hosts of ''Glimpses of India'' will be able to teach us some of the realities which operate in and among those statistics.
I hope you can make it down to enjoy the food, the music, the dance, and the views.
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Some - not all - traditional Indian foods are known for being extremely hot and spicy. If the ''Glimpses of India'' program has stimulated your interest in spicy foods, or if you're just looking for an excuse to make an excursion to Toronto, consider the 13th annual Hot and Spicy Food Festival, which will be held Aug. 13-15 at the city's Harbourfront Centre.
The event will include cooking displays, workshops, films, dance, and an episode of the International Iron Chef competition.
Just a few of the seven pages of activities include the Red Hot Marketplace, where you can buy every kind of spicy sauce, marinate or dip, the 10 Tastes to Try Before You Die exhibit, and the Best Spicy Dessert in Toronto competition, in which jalapeno peppers find their way into chocolate and wasabi manages to get itself incorporated into ice cream.
Competing to be named the new Iron Chef will be Kevin Zink of New Mexico, Joshna Maharaj, of Canada, and Jorika Mhende from the Republic of Turks and Caicos.
To learn more about the Festival, phone (416) 973-4000 or visit their website at www.harbourfrontcentre.com. Please allow the Canadians to spell ''harbour'' and ''centre'' in their own ways, or your computer search may not work.
Harbourfront is located at 235 Queens Quay, on the city's Lake Ontario seafront.