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 <<CityNews Main Send Flowers to India!

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Send Gifts to India!

IACA Celebrates 15th Festival Of India And It’s 40th Anniversary


India American Cultural Association (IACA) organized its signature gala 15th annual Festival of India, to celebrate the 65th Independence Day of India as well as the 40th anniversary of IACA, at the Gwinnett Center on Sunday, August 7,2011. Over 3000 community members thronged the venue to celebrate the jubilant festivities suffused with patriotic fervor and pride.
The 15th Festival of India kicked off with a ceremonial lighting of the ‘flame of Independence’ at IACA on July 10; 2011.The ceremony was attended by the IACA President Sneha Mehta; Program Director, Festival of India 2011, Padma Rallapalli and the Chief Guest, Greg Pridgeon, Chief of Staff to Rockdale County Board of Commissioners. The torch was then lit in Johns Creek and then at the Global Mall. The ceremonies at all the venues were well attended by prominent city officials, Indian community dignitaries and enthusiastic supporters.

The Festival was graced by the presence of Atlanta’s leading public dignitaries-Georgia Senator Curt Thompson (Democrat-District-5); Community Development Region Manager, Georgia Power and former Chair for Asian American Commission for a New Georgia, Dr.Josephine Tan; Council Member, City of Johns Creek, Ivan Figueroa;Vice-President, Asian Chamber of Commerce,Dr.K.J.Tan; and 2012 Georgia Republican Party-,Asian American Outreach Committee’s Jimmy Ho.

Suave and composed IACA Secretary Nivedita invited IACA President Sneha Mehta for her presidential address. Sneha welcomed all and said IACA is the only organization that caters to all the people of Indian origin. IACA was started with a vision to preserve the Indian Culture in America, and help those newly migrated to feel at home. Whether you are born in America or in India, you have found a home in IACA. This year is special because it marks 40 years of IACA’s existence. Many of IACA’s past presidents are present here. A very big thank you and congratulations for a job well done building this great organization, from its infancy to the renowned community pillar it is today,” she said, adding, “It has been a very successful year so far. Earlier in the year, we celebrated India’s Republic Day, had successful Spelling Bee workshops, the annual scholarship banquet, and a very enjoyable musical evening. In March, we collaborated with Sanatan Mandir and hosted a rib-tickling Gujarati comedy. We also celebrated Holi with color and dance dhamaka. Many exciting events have been planned for the coming months.”

She concluded by thanking all the volunteers for their efforts in making the Festival successful.

Sanatan Mandir President Bharat Kotecha gave a brief update on Sanatan Mandir and its activities. He said that the present Temple, which is the second oldest Temple in Georgia, has been serving the religious needs of the Indian community since 1986. The Temple is celebrating all the major religious festivals as well as cultural programs throughout the year. He requested the attendees to refer to the August to December 2011 Festival Calendar printed in the Festival of India brochure. He said the Temple is blessed to have Acharya Pramod Padhiji, who is proficient in conducting all kinds of poojas, ceremonies and rituals as its Priest. Kotecha went on to inform the attendees about the progress of Sanatan Mandir. The construction of the Sanatan Mandir’s new Temple is in final stages now and I appeal to the audience to please donate generously to help finish the outstanding work. I thank IACA Board and the Executive Committee for its continued support.”

Dr.Josephine Tan, in her address said, “ I feel humbled and honored to be invited once again to this year’s Festival. It has been a pleasure to convey my greetings for the past fifteen years.. According to the 2010 Census, there are about 105000 members of your community in Georgia. I am very proud of your vibrant community, which has strong family values and entrepreneurial spirit. You have many prominent entrepreneurs and others with accomplishments in every walk of life and you have contributed greatly to make Georgia a better state for all. Georgia Power is probably one of the first to promote economic development in the State. It started in 1927.If you have any interesting project for economic development, please let Georgia Power know either through IACA or the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. 

In his brief remarks, Ivan Figueroa said,” I wish to congratulate IACA for putting up such a wonderful show.IACA is a great friend to the Johns Creek community and me. On behalf of Johns Creek City Council and the Mayor, I want to thank you all for inviting me here. Congratulations on celebrating 40 years of service to the community. The Asian community is actually our largest minority population, something we embrace completely. We want to do more and more especially embracing your culture.”

The Chief Guest Curt Thompson is a lifelong resident of Gwinnett County and currently resides in Tucker, GA.An attorney; Thompson has practiced law in Norcross since 1983. He has been active in civic affairs, and especially in promoting economic development, and higher education.
Thompson said that it was a privilege and honor to participate in the large and impressive twin celebrations of IACA’s 40th anniversary as well as the 15th Annual Festival of India. He complimented the Indian community and congratulated IACA for its efforts in promoting Indian Culture through its festivals and activities.

Kaushal Tripathi (IACA-Board of Directors) made a special recognition of the past Presidents of IACA, lauding them for their spirit of continued service to IACA and in helping the Indian community grow and progress from a toddler to an adult. Some of the past directors who were present were invited on stage, where Sneha Mehta and Syam Yellamraju presented them with commemorative gifts. 

Padma Rallapalli read out the names of the following awardees, which were presented with commemorative plaques in recognition of their excellent and continued contribution to the community, by Syam Yellamraju. 

Sudha Malhotra, Jayasree Moparthy, Antony Thaliath, Amitava Sen, Parmesh Erramilli, Ram Maddi, Kiran Agnihotri, Chaitanya Bhatt, Bipin Bhatt and Jaydev Jani. 

Dr.Josephine Tan was also presented with a commemorative gift in appreciation of her continued friendship and support to IACA and the Indian community. Padma Rallapalli then recognized IACA’s Executive Team for 2011-President Sneha Mehta; Exec.V.P.Samir Doshi; V.P.Lakshmi Vedala; Secretary Nivedita Garabadu and Treasurer Kamal Satuluru, who were also presented with token gifts of appreciation. 

Booths in the Main Hall:
Despite economic downturn all the 60 booths were taken up by vendors selling Indian apparel, jewelry, toys, real estate, education, insurance, travel, and medical equipment for disabled and seniors. Booths were set up by not-for-profit religious and professional membership Organizations and Associations. Booths of the sponsors AT&T; Kimberly-Clark Corporation and Georgia Power attracted lot of visitors. GOPIO-Atlanta had also set up a booth which was manned by its President Bhairavi and her husband Nadgonde and other volunteers.

Atlanta’s popular Sarvana Bhavan, Royal Indian Cuisine and Royal Mazedar Kulfi by Unique Foods International did brisk business selling mouthwatering food and beverages.

The Cultural Show: 
Kudos to IACA’s Cultural team of Lakshmi Vedala, Nivedita Garabadu and Rina Gupta,supported by several youth emcees who presented a smorgasbord of riveting and very entertaining mammoth 8 hour cultural program of National Anthems, patriotic songs, regional folk dances, dances to Bollywood songs, classical instrumental renditions and classical dances; Comedy skits and medley of dances by College students,’ Family Feud’ Game Show, a Fashion Show coordinated and organized by Rupal Patel; and even an international item Uhuru African Dance! , and of course, Bhangra.

Kid’s activities: 
The children were kept engaged and entertained by Pallavi Rallapalli and Leena Joshi. The kids made Indian themed bead bracelets, and also had fun with henna designs.Leena Joshi who runs ‘Theme Works’ Creative Arts Classes for Kids and Adults at Alpharetta also conducted an Arts Competition for Children.

IACA Treasurer Kamal Satuluru thanked all the sponsors and Lakshmi Vedala moved a vote of thanks. The Registration Team under Vasav Mehta did an outstanding job with admissions of the visitors and giving out Festival information.

The Festival of India, which began in 1997 has now become a much anticipated and appreciated annual event.Overall,the spectators, especially Atlanta’s fast growing young Indian generation rejoiced in the festivities that provided a heart-lifting slice of an invaluable, rich and vibrant culture and heritage of India.

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