Indian Center Serves Important Role for Community

October 13, 2000

Source: The Plain Dealer

On October 13, 2000, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) reported "over and over, a dozen children practiced singing and dancing to the tabla, Indian drums. Nearby, their parents, working late into a recent night, mounted shimmering 4-foot statues of gods and goddesses on a platform in preparation for a Hindu festival. The worship festival was at the India Community Center on Cedar Rd. near Grandview Ave., a gray, windowless building that quietly serves as a gathering place for more than a dozen local Indian-American groups. Serving a growing Indian community in Greater Cleveland, the center is home to Indian-Americans whose native tongues, religious beliefs, home states and family backgrounds vary. On many nights, a lively crowd listens to Indian poets and musicians perform in various languages. Indian-Americans of diverse faiths convene here to meditate. Last weekend, hundreds gathered for the Durga Puja, a festival worshipping the Hindu mother goddess. For many children of Indian descent living in Northeast Ohio, this is where they put on their first saris or learn to speak in their parents' native tongue.

"Since Indian immigration into Greater Cleveland took off in the mid-1960s, more students, workers in high-technology jobs and others have been arriving each year and forming a community rivaling those in other major U.S. cities. Annually, about 800 Indians have come to Ohio in recent years, State Department officials said. About 6,000 Indian families reside in Greater Cleveland today, said Raj Pillai, president of the Federation of India Community Associations, a nonprofit, nondenominational umbrella organization for 15 area Indian groups."