As a nation, India may be best described as ‘unity through diversity,’ although no phrase can ever hope to capture the magic and the mysticism of this exotic subcontinent and her people.

A blend of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths, India hosts one of the most fascinating cultures in the world. From North to South, her variety of faces and foods, traditions and modern reforms is a staggering monument to what has been achieved by this unique republic—the largest democracy in the world.

So… where better than Priya Indian Cuisine on Grand River in Farmington (248-615-7700) to meet with several influential members of Detroit’s Indian community for a ‘primer’ course on this incredibly rich heritage? While enjoying Priya’s biryanis and pulaos—delicately but perfectly spiced—our conversation ‘pit’ included Amarnath Gowda, the well-known lawyer; Meena Parekh (who proved to be an old friend, having worked with John and Lina Del Signore from Laurel Manor for years!), Gauri Patel, Daksha Pandit, Niru Bajaria, and of course, the charming owner of Priya, Siriesha Mandava.

It was through the generosity of both hosts and guests that we were able to gain growing insight into the highly complex, deeply humanistic society of India. Clearly, this will be an ongoing education for the Visionalist crew, and one we will undertake with a level of enchantment unrivaled in our other documentaries.

Since we began the ‘Our Story’ series three years ago, chiefly to honor the Detroit’s elder population and the lessons that can and must be learned from them, it was heartwarming to understand how such respect for the older generation is a major component of Indian culture. We thank our Priya hosts for that… or rather, we offer them our newly-learned phrase, ‘Shukriyaa.’ Elders are the driving force in any family and the love and respect for elders in Detroit’s Indian community will be a major focus of ‘Our India Story’. We anticipate interviewing the oldest individual that we’ve met so far in any of our documentaries, and as always, will learn from the challenges confronted and overcome by immigrants our Indian immigrants—but mostly, as always, from making friends from a community that is in many ways a metaphor for hospitality.

Our lively conversation with ‘our experts’ covered the cultural niches to be found throughout the Indian states, and we were equally amazed and intrigued to learn how the blend of customs that has resulted from over 5000 years of history has shaped not only the culture of India, but the culture of Detroit. From Novi’s Bollywood films to the Belle Isle Hare Krishna festival, to local celebrations of the bhangra of the Punjab, the bihu of Assam, the chhau of Jharkhand and Orissa and the ghoomar of Rajasthan, as well as the painting of Madhubani, Mysore and Rajput, the folk, pop and classical music, the fashion… and of course, the incomparable cuisine of India, we embark on a journey meant to take us as deeply into our mind as across the planet, learning about the mysteries of meditation and yoga as we explore the Indian experience both here in Detroit and in India herself.

To all our friends from South Asia, we proudly announce ‘Namaste.’

And to our Priya hosts we say: If there’s any more mango ice cream left, let us know…!





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