CHICAGO: The Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago (FIA), celebrated India’s Republic Day on January 28 2023, at Matrix Club in Chicago. This momentous occasion transcended expectations through patriotic fervor, and a vibrant tapestry showcasing the rich cultural diversity of the nation.
It featured a diverse array of events, community service initiatives, and a grand show that unequivocally underscored India’s profound unity in diversity. A noteworthy highlight of the evening was a breathtaking performance by acclaimed artists from India, led by Shahid Rafi, the son of the legendary Padmashree Mohammad Rafi, revered as the Greatest Voice in Indian Cinema.
The event unfolded in Indian tradition, symbolizing the illumination of knowledge and wisdom through the ceremonial lighting of the lamp. The event was ushered by FIA’s General Secretary, Nilabh Dubey. Main MCs were Anu Malhotra and Suchitra Kukreja.
The Founder Chairman Sunil Shah painted a vivid picture of FIA’s pivotal role in uniting the diaspora in and around Chicagoland over the past several years, including expanding into neighboring states. He spoke on the organization’s vision and mission, setting the stage for a night of celebration and reflection.
Past President Vinita Gulabani highlighted the remarkable achievements of 2023, emphasizing growth from 58 to over 160 members—a testament to a staggering 300 percent increase in funding, event sizes, and the number of events hosted. Current President Pratibha Jairathexpressed gratitude to the Executive members and outlined her plan for 2024. In a groundbreaking move, she introduced an additional event focusing on Animal Medical Welfare and Care.
The stage then welcomed Chief Guest for the evening, Consulate General Somnath Ghosh, who spoke passionately about the relevance of India’s Republic Day to the Indian Diaspora, conveying key messages from the President of India to the captivated audience.
FIA’s Advisory Board members, instrumental in the organization’s decade-long growth, came on the stage They were Syed Hussaini, Manish Gandhi, Asha Oroskar, Pinky Thakkar, Lakhvir Sahota, Dr. Anuja Gupta, Dr. Bhupinder Beri, Dr. Suresh Reddy, Nimish Jani, Shrujal Patel, Sushma Bhanot, Shital Daftari, and Jasbir Suga.
The children from the Atharv Dance Academy, unleashing a foot-stomping patriotic dance that echoed the spirit of the evening.
The festivities bestowed awards and honors upon individuals who have left an indelible mark on the community across diverse fields They were Sudhir and Archana Agarwal, Pinky & Dinesh Thakkar, Chintan & Digna Patel, Chirag Patel, Sunny Patel, Arjun Patel, Manish & Shailja Gandhi, Suketu Amin, Kunal Sarangi (ex-MLA), Naresh Shah, Dr. Bhupinder Beri, and Jayanti Oza. The award ceremony was a flawless celebration of community service and contribution.
In a commitment to fostering community development grounded in both financial need and academic excellence, attracted an impressive pool of more than 35 applications this year. Rigorous evaluation led to the shortlisting of 17 exceptional candidates on this occasion, 6 individuals were honored with scholarships. Vice President of FIA and pro-MC Richa Chand, announced the recipients of the scholarships, highlighting their remarkable achievements.
Chandini Duvvuri, Vice President of FIA, conveyed the Vote of Thanks. She expressed gratitude to Consulate General Somnath Ghosh, Linda Davenport, Court Judge, and other esteemed dignitaries whose presence added prestige to the occasion. Chandini offered a profound thank you to the altruistic individuals whose contributions made the event and scholarships possible. Recognizing the dedication and unwavering commitment of FIA.
The cultural event began with the rendition of ‘An Evening in Paris,’ Sunil Shah’s signature dance moves ignited the crowd, prompting an impromptu dance floor and stage invasion by the audience
The crowd enjoyed renditions by Neelajan Ray, Priyanka Mittra, Sammy M., Gautami Roy, Prakhar Ghosh, and Mohammad Salamat. Even the Q&A session between Rizwan and Shahid Rafi added a touch of humor.
As the resonant notes of Mohammad Rafi’s songs, sung by Shahid Rafi, patriotic melodies filled the air like “Mera Rang De Basanti Chola,” “Karo Zindagi Ko Watan Ke Hawaale,” and “Nafrat Ki Laathi Todo”
As Consulate General of India, Somnath Ghosh, truly remarked “This FIA, Chicago event was not merely a reflection, but a vivid manifestation of our love for India and profound pride in being part of the world’s largest democracy, India. The celebration left an indelible impression, cultivating a heightened sense of patriotism and national pride among the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) connected to their roots and heritage”.