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Beyond Bollywood: Indian

Americans Shape the Nation

Beyond Bollywood

 Are you planning on visiting Washington D. C. in the near future? If a trip there is on the cards between now and Aug 16th of 2015, you're in luck.

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, is a groundbreaking exhibition showing at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) from February 27, 2014 to August 16, 2015. 

The exhibition explores the heritage, daily experience and numerous, diverse contributions that Indian immigrants and Indian Americans have made to shaping the United States.

Beyond Bollywood is located on the 2nd floor of NMNH. Admission is free.

 The Simthsonian Asian Pacific American Center lists out 10 pieces from Beyond Bollywood that you might be surprised to see. The 5000 square feet area displays the Indian American experiences and contributions in terms of being beyond as follows-

# 1 Rappers- Some of these artists include Chee Malabar, Karmacy, and A-Live.

#2. LGBT Rights Activists- SALGA (South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association) finds a mention here.

#3. Multiracial families- Here you'll find various family portraits of multiracial families involving early Indian immigrants.

#4: Feminist Art- This showcases a collection of artwork created by some of today’s leading Indian American women in the arts.

#5: Athletes- Super Bowl champ Brandon Chillar, gymnastics Olympic medalist Mohini Bhardwai, and 2004-2008 co-captain for the Trinity University basketball team, Darsh Singh (who petitioned for the right to wear his turban, which was against the NCAA’s no-headgear policy) find a mention here among other ground breakers.


(Photo Credit: Smithsonian Asian Pacific Center)

#6: An Astronaut- Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian American to leave orbit finds a mention here among other Indian American professionals.

#7: Christians- Various religions followed by Indian Americans are covered with pictures in the Religions section.

#8: Civil Rights Activists- Get acquainted with Bhagat Singh Thind, who stood in front of the U.S. Supreme Court multiple times to gain citizenship and others who fought against racism and injustice over the years.

#9: Non-Indians- And then there are the non-Indians who have been influenced by the Indian culture, aka Michelle Obama who wore a dress designed by Naeem Khan.

#10: The Undefined and the Self-Defined- This addresses the delicate balance within frames of identity.

Many others of Indian origin have been honored at the exhibition- from Congressman Saund, the first Indian American elected to Congress who served from 1957-1963 to Nina Davuluri, the first Indian American to be crowned Miss America (2014). This morning, Nina updated her FB status with the comment, "So awesome! I'm honored to be featured in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History! Their new exhibit 'Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation' features myself and many other amazing individuals!"

We say, this is truly exciting. What can be more mainstream than being showcased in the Smithsonian Museum? This is good. Very good. Go ahead and plan a trip to the National Museum of Natural History (if at all possible) and take pride in those before us who have paved the way for us to dream big and enjoy better integration and appreciation of what we are in this great big melting pot.

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