Well attended Banquet feather in FIA cap

Indian CG Ms Mukta Tomar lights ceremonial lamp

CHICAGO: The Gala India Day celebration banquet hosted by one of the oldest ethnic organizations in Chicago land, the Federation of Indian Associations [FIA] Chicago held at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows Friday, August 17 outshone many similar events held on the occasion, including its own Parade that it held on Devon Avenue the next day.
The painstaking manner in which the organization tried to showcase Indian culture and the recognition of community stalwarts for their contributions to the society with awards was commendable. The event was held in conjunction with Dhristi Arts.
The sold out banquet saw the convergence of community’s elite who enjoyed every bit of the three-hour celebration heightened by music, dance, fine food and celebratory revelry. The banquet brought great musical ensemble “Aye Mere Waton Ke Logo” a special live-audio/visual musical tribute to Mother India.
The evening belted out some melodious patriotic musicals of yesteryears which was followed by ‘Saregama’ youthful musical pop and fusion music and songs presented by the cream of young talent from India.
Ajai Agnihotri, FIA President welcoming the guests said the evening’s gala provides an outstanding opportunity to showcase our ideals of patriotism and indianness while affording us a collective chance to celebrate India’s great milestone event.
He mentioned that FIA is an umbrella organization serving the Indian community in Chicagoland of three decades. He said FIA leaders have made and are determined to make stellar contributions in promoting Indian nationalism and its global distinction.
Ravi Harsoor, Banquet Chairman, said it is his goal to work for fostering a sense of unity in the community in order to achieve the shared goals and values. “FIA will play more proactive role in other areas of community development,” he said amidst applause.
Niranjan Shah, doyen of the FIA, congratulated FIA for forging great unity in strength and hosting a series of events that seek to honor India’s Independence.
Iftekhar Shareef, FIA’s Trustee Chair, introduced recipients of the FIA award for their contributions to the community and for their leadership. He invited Consul General Smt. Mukta Dutta Tomar and Niranjan Shah to jointly present the awards to Chandresh Brahmbhatt for business excellence, Jesal Patel, Trustee of Lincolnwood for his contribution in development of Lincolnwood village, Dr. Manish Brahmbhatt for his devotion to providing professional medical services and assistance , Harish Bhatt for his leadership role in FIA, and the popular TV duo Meena and Kishore Purohit of India TV for enriching the community by creating huge awareness about Indian culture.
Shareef then announced a posthumous award to late Satwant Singh Kaleka for his valor and bravery in saving lives by falling in the line of fire at Sikh Temple in Oak creek, Wisconsin. He urged all the guests to rise and observe a minute’s silence in memory of the fallen at the Sikh temple and solicited prayers for police officer Brian Murphy who took the bullet while stopping the killer.
Chief Guest Smt. Mukta Dutta Tomar, Consul General of India in Chicago expressed appreciation and thanks to the leaders of FIA, Chicago for hosting a wonderful event, which, she added, allows us to celebrate this joyous occasion with one another and be thankful for what we have and strive for a better future. She praised FIA for being in existence since last 30 years and working for the key issues important to the community and also for promoting our culture in USA.
Ms Tomar echoed the remarks of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivered on Red Fort in New Delhi by saying, “I believe that no power in the world can stop India from achieving new heights of progress and development. What is needed is that we work together as one people for the success of our country. Let us once more resolve that we will continue to work for a progressive, modem and prosperous India.”
Making reference to India’s ethos, Tomar said Indian culture promotes inclusiveness and tolerance in the face of all odds, which is often misconstrued as weakness.
We are not weak. We are tolerant which has helped us to patiently overcome many barriers in our long journey since we achieved independence.
Tomar also took a moment to reflect on the senseless loss of lives at Gurudwara in Wisconsin and said we must be resilient in the face of such attacks and show that we are united against such nonsensical violence.

We must promote understanding and acceptance; replace hate with compassion toward one another, regardless of background, race or religion.
Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Executive Vice President acknowledged and recognized dignitaries and sponsors who helped host three major events in celebration of India’s Independence Day. Mina and Kishore Purohit were presented a plaque in recognition of their excellence in community TV journalism. Sanket Shruti served as the emcee for the evening.
The evening set an extraordinary tone when Komal Sharma stepped on the stage and presented a dazzling solo dance performance which evoked thunderous applause.
Earlier, Congressman Joe Walsh of the 8th Congressional district endeared himself with his remarks on Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and dubious role played by Pakistan vis a vis India. . Amidst cheers from the audience, Joe Walsh reiterated his support for India and demanded lifting of ban on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s visa for visiting U.S.
His stern remarks against Pakistan were also well received. He also said, “I truly believe that Indian Americans with their multi-continent experiences, with their advanced technical skills in science, engineering, medicine, education and most importantly, business can guide America out of its current troubles of rising deficit.”
Joe Walsh said Indian Americans are a key part of the growth of our economy. The pulsating musical presentation of the evening kept the guests enjoying till the late hour of the night.

Abdul Siddiqui and Keerthi Ravoori

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