SHREWSBURY, Mass. — The India Society of Worcester, a social, educational and charitable organization based in Worcester with operations in Shrewsbury, will be celebrating 50 years of service, tradition and Indian culture this year.
“Fifty years is a remarkable milestone by any measure,” said Ashish Cowlagi, vice president of the India Society and chairman of its semi-centennial committee.
A native of India who immigrated to the United States about 15 years ago and a 10-year resident of Sherwsbury, Cowlagi can attest to the vibrancy of the Indian community in Central Massachusetts, especially in Shrewsbury, Westborough, Northborough, Worcester and Grafton.
Students attending Clark University and what is now Worcester State College founded the society. About a decade ago, it started operations out of its current center on Main Street in Shrewsbury. “We wanted a place to call home,” Cowlagi said.
The center serves as a meeting place, school, base for social services and gathering place for celebrations and other events for the Indian community. It provides a sense of kinship among the Indian population.
"We have about three to four events every week," Cowlagi said, including dance and meditation classes, language schools and programs for seniors.
India boasts a diverse country, home to Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and many others, and its population incorporates several languages.
"One of the founding principles of the society is that we wanted to represent all of India. There are many languages, many cultures, many religions," he said. "As rich as those cultures are, the tapestry of all that put together is even richer."
To celebrate that tapestry, Cowlagi said the society holds events to recognize the organization's past and to educate Central Massachusetts about its services.
"There's a lot of things we do that's not just limited to the Indian community," he said. Those services include a crisis committee open to all and a medical clinic held every Wednesday for those without insurance to see volunteer doctors and nurses.
The first of several celebratory events will be held in early April. The society's India Youth Group will organize the event, dubbed Showcase India. Cowalgi said he hopes that, and other celebrations, will help
"kick off the next 50 years."