- Classifieds – Main
SATFFORD, TX – A record turnout of elected officials, dignitaries and 3600 plus members of Indian American community was witnessed at the India Fest 2016, celebrating India’s 70th Independence Day on Saturday, August 20 hosted by the India Culture Center (ICC), Houston in association with the City of Stafford and major Indo-American organizations at the Stafford Center.
Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner said the 100,000 Indian Americans that live in Houston region contribute to its diversity and to its economy with their businesses. He presented a proclamation paying high tribute to India and recognizing ICC and the Indian community for their contributions.
It was the first Indian Independence Day celebration in Houston for the newly appointed Consul General, Anupam Ray who said that it was “very uplifting” to see such a gathering. Referring to India’s PM, NarenderModi’s addressing Joint Meeting of Congress last month, Ray said that India –US relations continue to grow strong and as President Obama put it, “The defining relationship of the 21st Century,” he quoted.
Event Chair and ICC Director PramodBengani welcomed the gathering to “Incredible India’ with inspiring quotes and paying tribute to India’s arduous journey in attaining its Independence. He recognized a host of dignitaries and elected officials that included: Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner; Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella; Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen; Sugar Land Protem Mayor Himesh Gandhi and Councilman Harish Jajoo; Consul General of India Anupam Ray.
Rajiv Bhavsar, ICC president in his address thanked ICC Board and Trustees and its partnering organizations for their support to its signature event I-Fest. He later received proclamations from the Mayors and from Rep. of Senator John Cornyn’s office, Al Green’s Office, City Controller Chris Brown Office and Fort Bend Trustee’s Office.
Formal program began with National Anthem by PaarthManiar and was emceed by Pratik Mirani and Neera Patel.
ICC’s ‘Community Service Award’ was given to SEWA International for their exemplary service. “Recognition Award”was given to Ms. Rebecca Hathorn from Stafford Center. The Safety Officers of City of Houston, Stafford, Sugar Land and Missouri City were recognized and felicitated with Awards.The highlight of the celebrations was the elaborate cultural program that incorporated 26 dances, two skits and one Choir. Two hundred and eighty plus, children, teens and adults performed on stage. “It was the highest diversity and number so far of participation,” said Swapan Dhairyawan, ICC Chief Trustee. Participating groups included: Bollywood Dancing Stars, Sunanda Performing Arts, Anjali Center, Laaya Dance Group, Kalakriti Performing Arts, TAAL Group, TYAGI Group, Hindu SwayamsevakSangh Group, Kathak Kala Kendra, skit from Indian Muslims Association of Greater Houston and JVB Preksha Center, Houston Brethren, Bollywood Shake, Kala Kunj, VVM, Woodlands Garba Group, Infused Performing Arts, Bollywood Shake, US DesiGalz, HH Creationz, Sparsh Group, Telugu Dance Group and a choir from Tagore Society of Houston. The jam packed cultural program was very colorful, enthralling and inclusive of kids from various age groups. Its Coordinators were SwapanDhairyawan, NishaMirani and Sapna Shah. The Musical Segment of Bollywood from local young artist Serene Kaggal was an instant hit.
Fresh and interesting segments were the Mom, Dad & Me Talent contest sponsored by Xfinity Comcast and Coordinated by KekaKar had the family display its dance, music or instrumental skills. Top cash prize winner was Ms. Soma Ghosh and family. The Essay Competition had over 28 contestants in age group 6 to 21years and was coordinated by ParulFernandes. ICC Quiz was conducted at the front ICC Booth by Sanjay Sohoni was swamped with kids who were excited to answer Geography and History questions to win cookies and chocolates.
Another interesting item was ‘Weaves of India’ that showcased saree wrapping styles from different ten States of India displayed. It was sponsored by Sling TV and coordinated by SangeetaPasrija and SangitaDua. ICC extended its thanks to volunteers, vendors, Darshak Thacker for PA & Sound System, Raghu Thakkar for photography. The program concluded on highly charged, upbeat note around 9:15 pm that day.