By Dustin Luca
---- — Security costs in Boston have led a popular annual cultural event to relocate to Andover next month.
Andover High School’s Collins Center will play host to the India Association of Greater Boston’s annual India Day on Sunday, Sept. 8, from 4 to 8 p.m.
The annual event celebrating India’s independence from British colonial rule has drawn thousands to the Esplanade in Boston for many years.
But costs to continue staging the celebration at the Hatch Shell became prohibitive this year after security requirements grew stricter following this year’s marathon bombings, Amrit Soni, president of the India Association of Greater Boston, said.
The association was facing costs of more than $20,000 if it had returned to the Hatch Shell this year, Soni said. That price tag is “inappropriate for a nonprofit organization,” he said.
In light of the additional expense, plans for this year’s Aug. 18 celebration were canceled and organizers scrambled to find an alternative location.
The move to the Collins Center will turn the festivities from an outdoor celebration to an indoor showcase — highlighting the rich cultural diversity of India through music, dance, food and more.
The Collins Center was tapped both because of its availability and ease of access, given that Andover is home to two major interstate highways reaching most of New England, according to Zehra Khan, one of the directors of the India Association of Greater Boston.
While the event typically drew more than 10,000 people from across New England to Boston, the capacity of Andover’s performing arts facility is just north of 1,200 people.
Khan said while the program itself will be the same, the overall event will be smaller given the limitations of the venue. She said she couldn’t forecast how the Collins Center would handle the event.
“People do come from far and wide,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen in terms of logistics or how practical it’s going to be for everybody to be there.”
But even though it might mean scaling back in some areas, holding the event in Andover is better than facing the cost of running it in Boston, Soni said.
Founded in 1962, the India Association of Greater Boston represents immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and their families living throughout Massachusetts as well as New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Since its early years, the organization has sought to play a major role in bringing together a small, but growing Indian-American community by celebrating the festivals of India, organizing musical events, screening Bollywood movies and more.
The association also encourages its youths to uphold the cultural heritage of their forebears through various programs.
The India Day celebration at the Collins Center will be open free to the public. For more information, visit www.iagb.org.