The Festival of India.: Becoming Minnesotan

Nirupama Misra, c.2006.
  • Name - Nirupama Misra
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview -
  • India display, Festival of Nations, St. Paul, April 27, 2002.  Minnesota Histori

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    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    India is a large country that includes many different ethnic groups, languages, and religions.  In fact, there are over 150 different languages spoken in India!   Many Indian immigrants feel it is important to connect with the larger Indian community in their area, to establish resources for struggling Indian immigrants, and to reach out to educate Minnesotans about Indian culture, too.  It is often difficult for immigrants to find resources to help them when they are so unfamiliar with this new place.  Since India is such a large and diverse country with many languages and religious and cultural traditions, many Indian immigrants participate in religious organizations or samaj and social clubs that bring together members of their individual cultural group.  These groups plan events to celebrate their traditional language, food, music, and other cultural practices from their home regions in India. 

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Nirupama Misra 8
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    Narrator: Nirupama Misra (NM)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  The vision of the India Association then, creating that Festival of India at Landmark, what was the purpose of that?

    NM:  I couldn’t tell you that firsthand, but I can tell you what I assume. I think, you know, Indians who settled here in the Twin Cities, probably Indians everywhere, all over the U.S. who settled, have a tremendous pride and excitement about our culture and our heritage, and a desire to continue it. So, I think this was an effort to make this into an all-India sort of involvement, not just one cultural group or another, but all the states, all the religions, and to portray that to the community at large, to the greater Twin Cities, in a way that would welcome them in.

    PS:  So the goal in welcoming non-Indian people into that event was to help them understand Indian culture and food and dance and song and all of that?

    NM:  Yes, and to give them an opportunity to appreciate it. I think back in the mid to late 1980s, there weren’t Indian restaurants. There just wasn’t the cultural exposure to Indian society that there is now. There was more need for that. It was also a very, very, very exotic foreign thing, I think, to the average Minnesotan.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  1. To suppose to be true, especially without proof.  2. To take on a position or duty.  (assumes, assuming, assumed)


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.


    Adjective:  Relating to the traditions and customs of a group or society.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Noun:  The act of exposing or the condition of being exposed.


    Adjective:  From a different country; belonging to a different culture.


    Noun:  A tradition; something that can be passed down from preceding generations.


    Noun:  The act or engaging or including thoroughly or the state of being engaged or included.


    Noun:  A chance for advancement, progress, or profit.


    Verb:  To depict or describe.  (portrays, portraying, portrayed)


    Noun:  The quality or state of being proud.


    Noun:  The people of one’s country or community taken as a whole.


    Adjective:  Awe-inspiring; terrific; extremely large or great.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 632