Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in Cenla

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Central Louisiana is the crossroads for several different cultures. Like a good gumbo, the sum is even more amazing than its individual parts. This month, we’ll have two amazing opportunities to celebrate that diversity while doing what we do best—having fun in a festival atmosphere!

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaThe Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will host its 26th Annual Pow Wow on Saturday, May 18th, and Sunday, May 19th, following a successful grand return in 2023 after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the celebration in previous years. The annual public event, held at the Chief Joseph Alcide Pierite Pow Wow Grounds on the Tunica-Biloxi Reservation in Marksville, welcomes various regional indigenous tribes to celebrate culture through vibrant craft displays, music performances, dance presentations, and cultural exhibits. An assortment of interactive events and live performances throughout the weekend aim to highlight the history and traditions of the Tribe. Not only does this historic, cultural event celebrate the traditions of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, but neighboring tribes from across the region are invited to share their own culture and heritage alongside Tunica-Biloxi citizens.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaThis year’s Pow Wow is also a celebration of continuous advancements by the Tribe. Just this past year, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe had great opportunities, including hosting U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary, to its reservation. The Tribe was also awarded a $6.4 million grant to provide new, affordable housing for tribal families. Additionally, members of Tribal leadership were selected to serve on numerous federally appointed boards and committees with the hopes of amplifying the Tunica-Biloxi mission and the goals of Indian Country nationwide.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in Cenla“Last year’s return of the Pow Wow was such an overarching success that we anticipate this year’s 26th annual Pow Wow to be bigger and better,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “We are eager to celebrate our accomplishments, not only for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, but for Indian Country as a whole. The success of one tribe is the success of all tribes to leave our mark in history and continue to pass down our culture and traditions.”

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaFeatured performances and events include The Grayhawk Band, the Tunica-Biloxi Singers and Legend Keepers, along with Native American dance and drum (singing) contests. Dancers can pre-register by Wednesday, May 15th by filling out a pre-registration form at tunicabiloxi.org/2024-pow-wow. The Pow Wow features over 35 food and craft vendors. Vendors can contact Paulette Voiselle by emailing [email protected] or Emelie Barbry at [email protected] for more information.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaAdditionally, the Tribe will hold a free Education Day on Friday, May 17th, ahead of the Pow Wow. The event is a free day of programming dedicated to educating students of all ages on Native American culture, highlighting the historical, social, and symbolic significance of inter-tribal Pow Wows. There will be two programs, approximately 75 minutes in length, scheduled for 9:00am and 11:00am, respectively. The Ottertrail Singers from Apache, Oklahoma, will accompany dance exhibitions during the programs, and attendees are encouraged to participate in inter-tribal dances, including Round Dance and Two-step. For more information, contact Elisabeth Pierite-Mora at (319) 240-6432. School groups may want to include a visit to the Tunica-Biloxi Museum as part of their outing. Call Melissa Barbin for museum group reservations at (800) 272-9767, ext. 5457.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaGeneral Admission for the 2024 Pow Wow is $8.00 for adults and children over five years of age and $5.00 for children under the age of five. Registered drum and dancers will be admitted with assigned numbers.

For more information on the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, visit www.tunicabiloxi.org.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaIn Alexandria, the 10th Annual Holi Fest Celebration will take place in Downtown Alexandria on Saturday, May 18th from 11:00am to 2:00pm. This is the only event of its kind, where colors are free, and fun is abundant for adults and children of all ages. This unforgettable experience has been an Alexandria tradition since 2012.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaHoli originated 3,000 years ago in Northern India. In color, there is no rich or poor, no king or common, no black, white, or brown, we are all one. Amid the cloud of red, blue, yellow, green, and everything in between, festivalgoers are found laughing, singing, and dancing in the streets. The joyous event, which takes place in India, Nepal, and other countries around the world, traditionally marks the triumph of good over evil and is a celebration to welcome the spring. The “Festival of Colors” undoubtedly lives up to its name.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaHoli Fest started in Cenla as a dream of three local citizens—Jeff Phillips, Eddy Lashney, and Veronica Clark—and became a passion for Amy Pillarisetti, president of the Cenla India Association. Her participation brought in a new perspective–using this colorfully festive occasion to raise money for public service non-profits. This effort is supported by local community advocates with similar goals, from different spheres of life in Alexandria. Many businesses and organizations support the festival through monetary and service contributions. Amy’s vision, along with the founders and the supporters, brings our diverse community together and make us aware that we all are part of one society, here to learn about and understand each other’s cultures and histories. “It is a celebration of unity, equality, and love,” explains Amy. “Cenla is a multi-cultural society, and Holi Fest brings people together under one sky and they throw colors. And when they throw colors, there is no white, black, rich or poor. They’re all one from all facets of life. And that is really the main objective of ‘Unity in Diversity’.”

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaIn Cenla, we welcome spring with a rainbow of colors showering our downtown Alexandria canvas. The festival is celebrated with much joy and vigor. Though Holi is a tradition which dates back millennia, Holi Fest is a 1/2-day event combining Indian and Cajun spirit. Like all Cajun Festivals, this is a family friendly festival, catering to all age groups. It is one of those festivals that brings out the inner child in everyone. It is amazing to see children, young and old, immersing themselves in colors of love, forgetting all their differences. The Festival of Holi is a celebration of the Colors of Unity and Brotherhood—an opportunity to forget all differences and indulge in the equality of all beings.

Holi has grown steadily, from 50 people the first year to 500 people in 2023! The event starts with A Color Run/Walk for Kids which is very popular with runners, young and old, with the participants getting doused with colors during the run.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaHoli Fest is free and open to the public. Providing free colors for the community is a point of pride for the organizers. Come and play. Meet up with family and friends for a color walk, taste the cuisine of India, enjoy exposure to other cultures in this amazing city of ours, all while supporting a worthwhile cause Children’s Advocacy Network (CAN) in their pursuit to eradicate Child Abuse. “Children are the future of every community, and every child has a right to a safe place,” says Amy.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaNot only will you be helping CAN, but you will also have lots of fun. Enjoy delicious Indian cuisine like Chicken Tikka, grilled on site by Abid Dyer and his team in partnership with the Red River Bank team. Dance along with Bollywood dancers, Zumba exercise, the Movement Lab, Steps by Stephanie and more! Rock to the beat of Bollywood music and drums by Jake Jacob, with media stage and sound courtesy of Insight Audio/Video and music by Ankur Sharma. Have a Holi makeover with henna tattoo by Hemlata, face painting, and hair braiding by Rhianna Gold Dust Studio. And, of course, there will be colors galore! The festival will offer arts and crafts for kids courtesy of Amanda at Tamp & Grind and Britni Lilley. This is a great, family-friendly event that you do not want to miss!

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaThere are several ways to get involved. Register for the Holi Fest Run/Walk for $45.00 at rapidescac.kindful.com/e/holi-fest-2024. Registered participants will receive shirts featuring exceptional graphics by the talented folks at Ugly Mug Marketing. Participants can also pre-order delicious plate lunches for just $15.00. Not a runner? You can still get your very own Holi Fest official T-shirt for $20.00. Don’t forget to order yours before they are gone! As always, feel free to head downtown and join in to play colors for free! All proceeds from this event will benefit Children’s Advocacy Network.

Celebrating A Mutlicultural May in CenlaHoli Fest is only possible through the collaboration of generous sponsors, including the City of Alexandria, Alexandria Police and Fire Department, and many sponsors, partners and volunteers. “Without their dedication, we could not bring events like this to enrich our life in Alexandria and around,” explains Amy. “Big shout out to all the photographers, to name a few Veronica Clark, Josh Candiloro Photography, Elliott Racca Productions, T.J. Shuflin Photography, Neelaj Shah, and many more who have provided us with unique photographs and helped us capture those beautiful colors.”

Amy is excited for another successful Fest. “We hope to see you downtown on May 18th, to support our CAN children, diverse community, and culture!”

So, take some time to get out into our community and celebrate a truly multicultural May in Cenla!