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India Culture Center Houston’s I-Fair celebrates India’s 68th Republic Day

CC’s 2017 Community Service Awardees: Mayor Scarcella, Jawahar Malhotra, Harshad Patel, Anju Mittal, and Sunanda Nair with Surendra Asthana, Deputy Consul General, (3rd from left) Col Raj Bhalla, ICC’s outgoing president Rajiv Bhavsar and ICC’s incoming president Falguni Gandhi. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

CC’s 2017 Community Service Awardees: Mayor Scarcella, Jawahar Malhotra, Harshad Patel, Anju Mittal, and Sunanda Nair with Surendra Asthana, Deputy Consul General, (3rd from left) Col Raj Bhalla, ICC’s outgoing president Rajiv Bhavsar and ICC’s incoming president Falguni Gandhi. Photo by Shobana Muratee.

by Shobana Muratee
STAFFORD – The India Culture Center, (ICC) Houston held its signature event I-Fair celebrating India’s 68th Republic Day on Saturday, January 21, (a few days shy of its official day of celebration that falls on Thursday, January 26) at the Stafford Center, in Stafford Texas.
It was on January 26, 1950, that India was declared Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic. On this was written a new Indian constitution that was approved by the Indian Constituent Assembly. The Indian diaspora observes this day with great pride remembering the valiant freedom fighters and leaders that set India free from the long and oppressive British Raj.

ICC’s Incoming President Falguni Gandhi announcing the Awards. Photo by Shobana Muratee

The day-long program started at 1.45pm and ended at 7.30pm and was attended by over 2400 people. This year the event was ticketed for $3. It is after six years now that ICC has decided to reintroduce their admission fee. Ticket stubs were raffled every hour for a Gold coin sponsored by Chemmanur Jewelers. There were six such winners at the event (coordinated by Director Nimish Sheth). The ticketing process was coordinated by Director Dilip Dadhich and Indian Senior Citizens Association volunteers very diligently.
Each year the celebrations present a refreshing take on India. This year’s theme ‘Our India’ portrayed an array of items covering India’s history, culture and heritage. ICC was joined by its affiliate Indo- American organizations in the celebrations.
Surendra Asthana, the newly appointed Deputy Consul General of India, Houston in his Republic Day message drew parallels with United States constitution. “We owe a lot the constitution of the United States,” he said. “The preamble of our constitution which says “We the people of India” – upholding the principals of Justice, Liberty and equality were taken from the United States constitution,’ he reminded on the occasion. Asthana spoke about the various projects that the Indian government had launched like: Make in India, Namami Gange Project, Digital India, skill India, to create jobs for youth of the country and some others. Aluding the efforts of ICC he said, “I strongly believe that it is not the embassy and the consulates which are the representatives of the Indian culture and ethos. It is every one of you whom I strongly believe is the ambassador of India’s traditions and culture.”

Event Chair Sanjay Sohoni, Nisha Mirania and Swapan Dhairyawan. Photo credit ICC

Event Chair Sanjay Sohoni, Nisha Mirania and Swapan Dhairyawan. Photo credit ICC

COMM_I-Fair 2017_Bhalla w Scarcella

Mayor of Stafford, Leonard Scarcella lauded the rich contribution of Indian Americans toward nation’s economy as well as upholding the core values of family, education. “You have added a new dimension to America,” he said in his message. Mayor Scarcella, the longest serving Mayor in the entire country, is up for reelection this year. On the occasion, he requested continued support of the community. Mayor Scarcella was later awarded with Community Service Award along with four others of this year’s awardees: Anju Mittal, Sunanda Nair, Harshad Patel, Jawahar Malhotra. The Award Committee was led by Col Raj Bhalla who presented the accomplishments of these individuals.
Earlier, ICC’s incoming president, Falghuni Gandhi, in her message paid rich tributes to the motherland India and adopted land, USA. She spoke of ICC’s activities and initiatives and said that this year ICC will strive to increase its membership. She recognized the members of the Board, Trustees and volunteers for their support.
The Event Chair Sanjay Sohoni welcomed the gathering and spoke about India’s Republic Day and the significance of theme of the celebration- Our India, “Our intention is to keep all participants, visitors emotionally connected to India.”
Outgoing ICC president Rajiv Bhavsar thanked his dedicated team of workers that supported him and his vision throughout his term. He specially thanked his Executive Committee and ‘core’ team for their invaluable support.

Eesha Dhairyawan singing the Indian National Anthem.

Eesha Dhairyawan singing the Indian National Anthem.

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh step-by-step presentation of the Surya Namaskar

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh step-by-step presentation of the Surya Namaskar

The program started with the energetic Ismaili Golden Club Matki Band which had 39 performers in age group 55 to 81 years. This was fifth year in a row that they presented their spectacular show.
The segment on “Women Who Make India Proud” was coordinated by Sangeeta Pasrija and Sapna Shah. ICC Directors/ Trustees or their spouses were attired to represent women of Indian origin who make India proud. Sarojini Naidu, Kiran Bedi, Indra Nooyi, Chanda Kochar, Sania Mirza, Kalpana Chawla, Asha Bhosale and Sushma Swaraj. This innovative segment was well done.
A scintillating “Live Antakshari” put together by Ajit Patel and Manisha Gandhi, had two teams Deewane and Parwane competing while the audience acted as Mastane group. Four rounds of highly entertaining session declared the Parwaane team comprising of J K Paras, Manmeet Patil and Monika Prakash as the winners.
The formal segment comprised of the Awards ceremony that began with the lighting of the lamp by Kirti Sohoni and Falguni Gandhi followed by the National Anthem by Eesha Dhairyawan (Indian) and Paarth Maniar (American). The segment was emceed efficiently by Nira Patel and Harshil Sheth. A Vote of Thanks was proposed by the incoming ICC Secretary, Sapna Shah.
The following segment had a very engaging “Live Quiz” on India coordinated by Event Chair Sanjay Sohoni and co-sponsored by Foundation for India Studies and International Hindi Association. The Quiz winners were Nadir and Nazneen Hajiyani were awarded cash prize, while the runners Shrikant and daughter Anjali Vempati were also awarded, There were token gifts given to all the participating audience. Rishikesh Sohoni, Aditya Shah, Preeti Sohoni and Eesha Dhairyawan ably assisted the show.

Protrayal of “Women of Indian origin who make India proud” are some of ICC’s members and volunteers. Photo credit ICC.

Protrayal of “Women of Indian origin who make India proud” are some of ICC’s members and volunteers. Photo credit ICC.

The cultural segment of dance and musical groups was coordinated by Swapan Dhairyawan and Nisha Mirani. Over 260 performed in this segment starting with Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh step-by-step presentation of the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation). What followed was a series of dances ranging from folk, regional, patriotic to Bollywood which was highly entertaining. The Dance shools/ Groups that performed included:HH Creationz, Kalakriti Performing Arts, SPARSH, Sunanda Performing Arts, Kathak Kala Kendra, Aradhan Dancing School, Dance with Dolly, Tarang, Shivangini School of Dance, Katy Balikas and Rice Riyaaz. The energy, enthusiasm and talent of the various participants was amazing.
The highlight for the segment was showcasing another country which was chosen this year- Turkey. The efforts of the Harmony School in providing two performances: an authentic Turkish dance and cowboy music was amazing. The 40 plus high school students that performed stole the hearts of the audience. The Turquoise House provided with a booth of Turkish artifacts and an Ebru artist on site was totally swamped during the day with the attendees.
Sponsors and a total of 38 booths/vendors partook in the event due to the efforts coordinated by Charlie Patel and Pramod Bengani. A 36 page souvenir ‘Tarang’ commemorative magazine was coordinated by Swapan Dhairyawan and Hemant Patel.
Media was recognized on the occasion: Voice of Asia, India Herald, Indo American News, Radio Dabang, Masala Radio, Meena Datt, Shoba Joshi and Andhra Mirchi. Special recognition was given to Suketu Kapadia for assisting the publication of Tarang for the last four years. The PA and sound system was provided by Darshak Thakkar. Event photography & videography was provided by Raghu Thakkar, Paresh Shah & Gautam Jani. The exclusive digital screen was monitored by Luna and Yagnesh Patel.
The event was concluded with announcement of ICC’s upcoming Shaam e Ghazal on February 10th Friday at India House between 7 to 10pm (also see Ad on Page 9 ). For details visit www.icchoustontx.org


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