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Diwali and the import-export business

Celebration attracts international attention, local dollars

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As co-chair of the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, Jay Patel knows what he's up against.

"When you talk about diversity and culture," he says, "the Springs doesn't exactly have a good reputation."

But, Patel says, people can point to India ... A Journey Through Time, as an example of culture in the city. For the past 30 years, Patel has organized productions of the celebration of Diwali, a Hindu festival of lights that celebrates life and the triumph of good over evil.

"This year, we're presenting a condensed history of India, showing through the ages the different contributions in art, science and culture," says Patel, who's co-coordinating the show. "We showcase that through music and dance."

Patel says that in the last 10 years, the production has become more professional. Each year, Patel and fellow coordinator Sourabh Basak come up with a different theme and write a script, while a local cast of more than 200 people works with a choreographer for the better part of two months.

"In the beginning, we had modest shows with a good following," Patel says.

Now, audiences of all ethnicities flock from Pueblo, Boulder, Lamar and even Albuquerque, N.M., to take in the show.

The success of the production has also generated attention from India. Patel sends DVDs of the performance to Indian satellite TV stations, which use portions of it for broadcasts around the world.

India ... A Journey Through Time features folk dances, live music and, before the show, authentic Indian snacks. (A VIP dinner is also available.) All profits from the evening go to the American Red Cross Pikes Peak Chapter.

"Our only condition was that the money stays local," Patel says. "This is my effort to get the Indian community to step out of their comfort zone and help the community."

India ... A Journey Through Time

Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Saturday, Nov. 10, 4 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$50; call 520-7469 or ticketswest.com.

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