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Huge turnout at the inaugural Freedom Mela by IFA

September 2015
Huge turnout at the inaugural Freedom Mela by IFA

 

(Photos: Vakiti Creations, except as noted)

On August 15, 2015, Indian Friends of Atlanta (IFA) set out to start new tradition of celebrating the spirit and meaning of India in Atlanta: Freedom Mela. Mela is a Sanskrit word that means gathering. What better day than the 69th Indian Independence day to gather all of the Indian community to celebrate.

More than 10,000 fellow Indians, Indian Americans, and Americans from more than 20 Indian associations, organizations, and nonprofit missions in metro Atlanta joined us in our Inaugural Freedom Mela at Newtown Park in Johns Creek.

 

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Freedom Mela was graced by chief guests (left to right) Narender Reddy; City of Johns Creek Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Broadbent; Georgia State Senators Michael Williams (and John Albers, not pictured); Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp; Consul General of India, Atlanta, Nagesh Singh; and Georgia State Representatives Hugh Floyd and B. J. Pak. (Photo: Vakiti Creations)

 

 

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One of the many dances from different states. Mela organizer Sunil Savili, Georgia State Senator John Albers, Rick Desai.

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Monty Head came from NY to emcee. A group in the parade of states. 

 

A spiritual dance performance, Gananayakaya, kicked off Freedom Mela followed by hoisting of U.S. and Indian flags by guests of honor Brian Kemp and Nagesh Singh, respectively. Then a fervent and passionate parade was accompanied by moving live music from Isha. More than 500 people participated in the parade from different Indian states: Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Jammu Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orisa, Punjab, Rajastan, Tamil Nadu, and Telanga. The festive atmosphere displayed the culture, the regions, the uniqueness, the spirt, and the unity of the Indian states.

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Kids had the most attention in Freedom Mela. They had plenty to choose from: carnival games, cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn, giant inflatables, stilt walkers, face painters, air brush artists, pony rides, and a petting zoo featuring baby camels, llamas, turtles, and the main attraction, camel rides. Freedom Mela also featured more than 50 stalls offering ethnic clothes, jewelry, education services, business services, and delectable Indian cuisine. Cultural activities from various states and nonprofit missions followed the parade in a cultural spectacular by over 500 participants for over 4 hours, such as was never witnessed before.

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S. Sebastian Musical Concert.

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(Photo: Atin's Photography)

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IFA founding members (below) Sunil Savili, Anil Bodireddy, Shyam Mallavarapu, Sreekanth Uppala, Sairam Pamulapati, Kiran Gogineni, and Srinivas Peddi acknowledged all the participating associations, sponsors, vendors, and the City of Johns Creek. IFA core team specifically recognized the performers and their parents and the tireless efforts of over 100 volunteers.

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Founding members Sunil Savili, Anil Bodireddy, Shyam Mallavarapu, Sreekanth Uppala, Sairam Pamulapati, and Kiran Gogeneni. (Photo: Vakiti Creations)

Sunil Savili stated on behalf of IFA,“Freedom Mela 2015 had the objective of celebrating freedom with all fellow citizens. We are overwhelmed by the support and participation from the community and want to thank each and every one who participated in Freedom Mela.” Images available at http://www.vakiti.com/IFA/IFA2015

Website Bonus Feature

By the numbers:
It was like India outside India, with different cultures, food, music, people.
45 Days of planning (just 45 days)
20 Indian Associations on 1 platform
40 Vendor & Food Stalls
15 States in Parade
45 Minutes of Parade with Band
500+ Cultural Performers
4 Hours of Electrifying Cultural Performance
30 Carnival Games and Animal Rides
150 Energetic and Tireless Volunteers
1000 IFA TShirts
1000 Freedom Mela Magazines
4000 Indian & US Flags
2300 Parking Spots
8000+ Guests
All in ...
1 Freedom Mela 2015.

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Thanks:
A unique item at Freedom Mela 2015 was the stunning visuals behind each of the performances, courtesy of the tremendous creativity and hard work of Jogy K. Jose of Divinity AV. IFA requested Jogy to prepare audiovisuals for each performance based on their state affiliation--no ordinary task. The result was a dazzling display of visuals that heightened the splendor of the performances and created an unforgettable experience. Jogy stayed up all night several nights to make this event a success, and choreographed more than 25 performances – singing, live musical performances, and dances. He also set up the Parade and Amphitheater in less than a couple of hours. His teammates were also very courteous and helpful. Divinity AV and Jogy, thanks from IFA.

 



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