Published August 10, 2013 – 8:06pm
The aroma of spicy food wafts through the air while plates of samosa, butter chicken and eggplant are dished up. Bejewelled sandals and bracelets are sold between booths where women like Sargam Paul have a steady stream of customers.
Paul sits with her head down, working quickly. Faint lines soon take shape on hands and arms, and become temporary works of art.
Henna tattoos are popular here at this weekend’s India Fest, on through Sunday at the multipurpose room at the Halifax Forum.
Paul, who immigrated to Nova Scotia five years ago with her family, says henna tattoos are one of the most popular things about India, and what a lot of people think of when they think of the country.
“Flowers, peacocks, you can do whatever you like,” she says.
It’s only the third year for the festival and organizers said Saturday they hoped the weekend’s activities would attract more than the 2,500 visitors who came through the doors last year.
Spokesman Surinder Bhalla said the idea came as a way to raise money to construct a community centre on one hectare of land in Bayers Lake. Construction may begin next year, he said.
“The main idea behind it is to help new immigrants, not only from India, but also from South East Asia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,” Bhalla said, pointing to a need also to help students arriving here for university and seniors within the community.
He said the centre would help promote Indian culture, but be secular, “non-religious, non-political and non-profit.”
“We want to make it like the Greek Fest,” he said, referring to the popular annual festival celebrating that community.