City of San Jose honors India Independence Day

San Jose

San JoseLakshmi Iyer
India Post News Service

The city of San Jose, California paid tribute to India’s Independence Day for the twelfth consecutive year, last Thursday, August 21. Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who is the first Indian American to be elected to the California State Assembly, initiated this annual tradition. This year, he co-hosted the celebration with San Jose City Councilmember, Sylvia Arenas.

Federation of Indian Associations of Northern California (FIA)/Festival of Globe (FOG) President Rajesh Vermawas in charge on the organization’s behalf.

Ash Kalra announced the introduction of Resolution206 (ACR 206) recognizing August 15th as India Independence Day and acknowledging the profound contributions of Indian Americans to the state and the country.He talked about the first Indians who migrated to California in the late 19th century, worked on farms, and later opened businesses, as well as the more recent wave of Indian immigration as part of the tech boom.

His own family had come to the United States in 1978 as part of the large migration in the 60s and 70s, after the Immigration Actof the mid-60s.Mr. Kalrapraised the Indian community’s patriotism toward the United States as well as their gratitude toward India.

City of san jose 2022

His co-host, Sylvia Arenas, who represents District-8,paid tribute to India saying, “Listen, I have fallen in love with your culture and with your people. Whether you are Hindu, or Sikh, or Muslim, you all treat meand my team, and our community like brothers and sisters. And that is something that I just absolutely admire.”

She acknowledged the Indian American City employees, her fellow Councilmembers who were co-sponsors of the event, Sergio Jimenez, Maya Esparza, and Matt Mahan, andthe other elected officials and their representatives who were present – Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, Tom Pike from the office of US Congressman Ro Khanna, Alyssa Garza from the office of Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Anurag Pal from the office of California State Assemblymember Alex Lee, and Peter Win on behalf of Senator Dave Cortese.

Susan Ellenberg spoke, “India is the world’s largest democracy with values of equality and freedom enshrined in its Constitution. The residents of our respective countries have seen much success partnering and the Indian American community here in Silicon Valley brings tremendous value and richness to our diverse tapestry.”

She emphasized the value of bringing people and groups together in helping everyone thrive. She also pointed out the need to stand with one another against hate and commended FOG for their “hard work, dedication, and engagement in this region.”

FIA/FOG received certificates of recognition from Sylvia Arenas on behalf of the City of San Jose, Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Cindy Chavez, Congressman Ro Khanna, and Senator Dave Cortese.

City of San Jose 2Alyssa Garza announced, “The Federation of Indo-American Associations is to be commended for its role in preserving the traditions and culture of Indian people for our community and future generations. Thank you for all that you do.”

Tom Pike said that they were celebrating not only India’s independence but also the strong ties between India and the United States, the world’s largest and the oldest democracies as well as the intertwining legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Anurag Pal wished everyone a happy 75th Independence Day and invited everyone to the FOG Parade that was to take place in their district.

Accepting the certificates on behalf of FIA/FOG, Rajesh Verma gave credit to the FOG team that worked tirelessly throughout the year, some of whom were setting up the tents, stage, and decorations at the Municipal Court grounds in Fremont for the Mela.

He shed light on the origins of the festival. It started off as a series of conventions held in hotels such as the Fairmont in San Jose. After some protests in 1992 and a particularly negative article in the San Jose Mercury News, the organizers met with the editor who told them that they needed to do it in the open. That is why they started doing this festival and Parade in 1993. 

Mr. Verma said that the Festival of Globe was a celebration of democracies and not only for India. Its motive was to mix with mainstream Americans, show what their values were and what they stood for, that they were peaceful people, and that they wanted to work with everybody.

He concluded by thanking all the elected officials. The flag hoisting ceremony followed with SameenaJapra Paul and Alka Bhatnagar singing the US and Indian national anthems respectively.  The cultural program took place inside the beautiful City Hall dome. Flag Hoisting San Jose

Kashmiri Hindu rights activist Sushil Pandit was honored with the FOG Hero Award. In his acceptance speech, he gave kudos to the recent strides India has made, particularly in the world of international relations, making special note of Indo-US ties in this respect.

He credited the new leadership in India with the improvements in various spheres that gave confidence to Indians in India and abroad.Mr. Panditalso praised the role of Indians abroad in being a bridge between India and their adopted lands and contributing to India’s growing prestige and reputation. SnigdhaVenkataramani’s quartet of young Bharatnatyam students essayed a beautiful narrative from the Ramayana – the events around Sita’s abduction by Ravana. Tanvi Thota put up a fabulously expressive Kuchipudi performance dedicated to Lord Ganesha. 

Alka Bhatnagar rounded off the evening with the popular patriotic number from “Pardes” – “Yeh Duniya Ek Dulhan…” The evening was made even more enjoyable with catered Indian snacks and tea, making it a successful run-up to the main festival.


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