Pack your bag for a trip to India! On Sundays from February 3 to March 10, we’re visiting sites across India and Indians living throughout the world as we explore some of the environments, histories, and cultures that make up this diverse modern nation. We’ll start in Bengal in the east and travel the length and breadth of the country before visiting centers in the global Indian diaspora.
The Get to Know India series is part of the NEA Big Read community reading program. Our book is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Each week in Get to Know India, we’ll feature a different region of India with activities that will explore the natural environment, arts, architecture, literature, language, and history specific to that area. Collect recipes for delicious dishes, complete with shopping lists with ingredients readily available in local stores. Help complete the collage of Indian landscapes and architecture in our exhibit. Dance along with songs from Bollywood films. Create art led by guest educators from the Indian community of Champaign-Urbana. See Spurlock's calendar for listings for each day in the series.
Other Big Read events across Champaign-Urbana and campus include book discussions, films, concerts, hands-on activities, and a fashion show. The complete schedule of events is online at go.illinois.edu/TheNamesake. Share and follow social media posts about Big Read events with the hashtag #BigReadCU. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Some Big Read events are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
About the NEA Big Read in Champaign-Urbana
The Big Read in Champaign-Urbana is a partnership of the Spurlock Museum, International & Area Studies Library, The Urbana Free Library, Champaign Public Library, Asian American Cultural Center, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Asian Educational Media Service, Indian Cultural Society of Urbana-Champaign, The Art Theater, and Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion.
About The Namesake
In this 2003 bestseller by the Pulitzer-prize-winning author, two generations of a Bengali-American family in Massachusetts struggle between new and old, assimilation and cultural preservation, striving toward the future and longing for the past. This is “a story of guilt and liberation; it speaks to the universal struggle to extricate ourselves from…family and obligation and the curse of history” (Boston Globe). The novel “beautifully conveys the émigré’s disorientation, nostalgia, and yearning for tastes, smells, and customs left behind” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
See the related exhibit From the Subcontinent to the Prairie: Stories of Immigration and Identity, on view January 25–May 19. This exhibit features objects and photographs loaned by members of Champaign-Urbana’s South Asian community. Two exhibits on loan from Chicago-area organizations illustrate the history of Indian immigration to Illinois: Memories and Milestones by the South Asian American Policy Research Institute and The Indian American Experience in Chicago from the National Indo-American Museum.