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Bigger Than Bollywood: At the India Food and Art Festival 2021

4:28 AM EDT on October 25, 2021

The beautiful scent of otherworldly spices filled my working senses as I walked onto the grounds of the Myriad Gardens this past Sunday afternoon, but I fully expected it to.

It was the India Food and Art Festival and, for at least a few hours, I would be blessed to be fully exposed to a culture that I truly love but rarely get a glimpse of, at least outside of expected restaurants.

The Great Devon Lawn—oh, how I hate it calling that!—was filled this evening, with barely a patch of green showing. As crowds gathered in front of the stage while performers sang songs in a traditional language that I sadly didn’t know, long lines bent and swayed for the food booths behind them, some from local businesses, some from local restaurants, all offering something that I knew I needed.

But I held back, hoping the lines would soon shrink—they never did. Regardless, next to an eatery, was a small selection of books being offered by OKC Bhakti Yoga. After my stroke, I attempted some yoga, to mostly disastrous results; still, it’s an exercise that works the mind as well as the body, something that is brutally missing from much of today’s American attempts at health.

As I talked to the woman behind the table, she told me about the organization, as well as the books they were offering. One of them, the Bhagavad Gita, had a mesmerizing cover that just drew me in. It was always one of those religious tomes I had wanted to read but, of course, never got around to it. As I gave the woman my donation for the book, I hoped that this time I’ll actually attempt to, at least, start it; to be fair, I only made it about eight pages in the Holy Bible.

Kids ran by me in their pink and purple dance outfits, having just finished a set onstage. As I turned to my left, I came upon the tent run by the Sikh Gurdwara of Oklahoma and the team of talented cooks preparing multiple plates of Chole Bhature for only five dollars, an absolute bargain for homecooked food for this home-starved boy.

As they spooned a large helping of boiled chickpeas in sauteed onions, tomatoes, and various spices—as well as two heaving pieces of fried sourdough bread—into my styrofoam container, I literally counted down the moments until the box was in my hands and the food in my mouth. Once it was, I was truly floating on a holy cloud, enjoying every possible taste.

I walked around a bit more, listening to the infectious music as it played on the stage or came from the live drummers in the back. But, more importantly, I talked to the people that make the indelible celebration of this world culture possible and, even more than that, make Oklahoma a more than livable place; it’s one of the reasons I haven’t—and probably never will—leave this state.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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