AFTER 80 years, the Perak Indian Chamber of Commerce (PICC) still stands strong as one of the leading business organisations in the state.
To commemorate the milestone, PICC organised the Indian Cultural, Arts Festival and Entrepreneurship expo in Jalan Lahat, best known as Little India by Ipoh residents, over the weekend.
Realising the need for various Indian business entities to network, several institutions, government agencies, small enterprises, and corporations were given booths and stalls to promote their services and products during the three-day event, which started last Friday.
PICC president K. Seven Munusamy said, besides being a celebration of culture, the event had a broader goal of strengthening ties between business entities.
Munusamy said, at the same time, PICC saw the event as an opportunity for the public to learn more about Indian culture. The organisation held events to showcase cultural arts, games and traditions over the weekend at Little India Square.
“This was indeed a grand celebration for us and we wanted to showcase the many Indian cultural practices to the public. PICC has been an entity for 80 years and it is fitting to have a grand celebration to mark the milestone.
“We wanted to show people how united we are and the event also served as a showcase for our colourful culture. It was a time to network and also have some fun,” he said.
The cultural procession proved to be the highlight of the PICC 80th anniversary celebration.
The procession included displays of bharatanatyam classical dance to the silambam martial art.
Spectators cheered and many were also seen taking photos and live-streaming the whole procession via their mobile phones.
The crack of urumi, a whip-like Indian sword, resonated throughout the area during the procession, accompanied by the rhythmic throb of dhol drums, creating a dramatic soundtrack for the event.
Visitors to the festival were also treated to demonstrations of traditional Malaysian games like congkak, batu Seremban.
There was also a yoga demonstration.
The public was also introduced to Tamil folk games like Pallanguli and Kichi Kichi Tambalam.
English tourist Anna Seers, 25, did not expect to see the performances as she only wanted to buy some traditional Indian clothing when she was there.
“My friend told me that I could get cheap Punjabi suits from there, but when I arrived, I saw the carnival and was smitten. It was colourful and for the first time, I experienced various Indian cultural practices. The event has piqued my interest to go to South India,” said Seers.
Technician P. Sathasivam, 48, said he was pleased to see such a proud procession featuring Indian culture and hoped that it would be an annual event from now on.
“I hope they continue organising this event. The response to the event was wonderful and I hope more people will take part in the future. For me, the cultural procession was the highlight and I hope there will be more performances next year. It is good that the chamber has taken the initiative to promote Indian culture and unite business entities in the state,” said Sathasivam.
In the evenings, local Malaysian Indian artistes like Sheezay, Kumaresh and Magen Vikadakavi serenaded spectators with songs and performances. To cap off Sunday night, famous Indian singer S.P.B. Charan performed ballads made famous by his father S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, who is a legend in Indian music.
On Saturday, State Assembly Speaker S. Thangeswary lit a traditional Indian oil lamp to officially mark the beginning of the event.
The three-day event, she said, was an excellent way to exhibit the vibrant Indian culture while providing a good platform for traders to promote their businesses.
“It’s also a good way to promote Ipoh’s Little India as a tourism spot,” said Thangasvari whose speech was preceded by Urumi Melam, or Indian classical drums, and a Bharatanayam dance performance.
A gala dinner attended by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir at the Kinta Riverfront Hotel marked the end of the event.