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The dazzling, packed, and high-energy IFA Freedom Mela 2019

By Geeta Mehrotra
October 2019
The dazzling, packed, and high-energy IFA Freedom Mela 2019

The spectacular cultural show featured over 600 participants, and exceeded 4 hours. Playback singer L. V. Revanth (left), winner of Indian Idol 7, was one of the highlights of the show. (Photo: Vakiti Creations) 

Saturday, August 31, 2109, brought thousands of Indians and people of Indian origin to celebrate India’s 73rd Independence Day organized by Indian Friends of Atlanta (IFA) at Ameris Bank Amphitheater, Alpharetta.

For Indians, Alpharetta, one of the fastest growing suburbs of Atlanta, has become like home away from home as many IT companies, Indian restaurants, and Indian grocery stores seem to be coming there almost every other day. So the location was convenient, even perfect, with large parking space, a huge stage, and enough room for 45 vendors to display their products. The banners and decorations added the ambiance of a mela. A twelve-foot India Gate replica and cooling fans welcomed guests at the entrance. The stage was adorned with flags of both India and the U.S.

In the presence of the guests of honor—U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA 2nd District), State Representatives Todd Jones (R - South Forsyth. District 25) and Brenda Lopez Romero (D - Norcross. District 99), State Senator Sheikh Rahman (Democrat - 5), Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, GA Public Service Commission Chairman and solar advocate Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, former U.S. Representative Karen Handel (R – GA 6th District), Consul Shailesh Lakhtakia (Community Affairs), Consul Davender Singh (OCI), singers L. V. Revanth (Indian Idol 9, 2017) and Hanishkha, and other distinguished guests—the American and Indian flags were hoisted with touching renditions of the respective national anthems to kick off the celebrations. To mark 5 years of community service, IFA Team along with their spouses and kids hoisted a specially designed IFA flag.

A slide show of the objectives and mission statement of IFA was shown to share the purpose of Freedom Mela: to bring the community together in large numbers, to reflect its strength to the mainstream, and to help Atlanta to grow like New York and Chicago communities so that we will have more Indian ministers and dignitaries visiting Atlanta. IFA's women's wing, Sakhis, addresses social issues of the community.

Young children participated in Legends of India, dressed as freedom fighters, Mahatma Gandhi, Jhansi Ki Rani, and others, imprinting in their young hearts examples of the heroes of India. In the opening parade were people from 28 states of India and union territories, and at the end the IFA committee members entered with their flag with much pride and enthusiasm. Emcees did a wonderful job of educating the audience about states and territories.

Following the parade, a cultural spectacular of over 30 performances by over 600 participants, exceeding 4 hours, depicting the arts and culture of various states, was presented by several dance schools and community organizations. The day was packed with rich colors and great entertainment. A special performance by Shiv Institute of Dance was one of the program highlights. The music concert by Indian Idol 7 winner Revanth was the highlight of the event, as it got tremendous response from the crowd. Revanth entertained the audience by singing in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and Punjabi. Emcees Monty, Nikhita Kokkirala, and Rhea Nara engaged the audience.

IFA’s Independence Cup (cricket) presentation was part of Freedom Mela. Revanth awarded the trophy to the winners (Rangasthalam Raiders) and TANA President Jay Talluri awarded the trophy to the runner-up (Saurashtra Monster Kings).

Freedom Mela 2019 had more than 45 vendors with ethnic clothes, jewelry, mehndi artists, education services, business services, and delectable Indian cuisines. There were some freebies: food samples and promotion material were given away by the sponsors. There were several eatery booths with hot piping dosa to cool sugarcane juice which was squeezed fresh on site, bringing back beautiful memories of eating on the streets in India.

IFA founding members Sunil Savili, Anil Boddireddy, Shyam Mallavarapu, Sairam Pamulapati, Kiran Gogineni, Srinivas Peddi, and Sreekanth Uppala along with the IFA executive team, Kishan Tallapally, Lakshmi Thesam, Abay Radhakrishnan, Raaghuveer Reddy, Rakesh Khanna, Deepa Sharma, Jamaludheen Masthankhan, Sanjeev Akula, Suresh Volam, Giridhar Kotagiri, Niranjan Podduturi, Deepa Bajpai, Kranthi Chenupati, Sudeep Telang, and Sandeep Reddy, acknowledged all the participating associations, 100+ volunteers, sponsors, vendors, and the city of Alpharetta, for their hard work, dedication, and support throughout this massive effort.

Freedom Mela received great support from different Indian organizations in Georgia:  American Telugu Association (ATA), Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta (BAGA), Georgia Oriya Society (GOS), Greater Atlanta Malayalee Association (GAMA), Greater Atlanta Punjabi Society (GAPS), Telugu Association of North America (TANA), Greater Atlanta Tamil Sangam (GATS), Gujarati Samaj of Atlanta, SEWA, Hindu Temple of Atlanta, IACA, Nrupathunga Kannada Koota, Maharastra Mandal of Atlanta, NRIVA, Rajasthan Association of Georgia (RAJA), Greater Atlanta Telangana Society (GATeS), Telangana Development Forum (TDF), Telanagana American Telugu Association (TATA), and Vibha.

27th Group, Patel Brothers, Suvidha International Grocery, Unicorn Technologies, Rapid IT, EIS Technologies, Georgia Power, Orpine Technologies, WorkHCM, Info Smart Technologies, Farmers Insurance, Jhalak.com, Deccan Spice, GVR Realty, North Atlanta Women’s Care, North Atlanta Vascular Clinic, Cake World and various other sponsors supported Freedom Mela 2019. Individual donors were Srinivas Avula, Kiran Kandhula, Ravi Kandimalla, Sriram Srinivas, Suresh Peddi, Ramana Bathula, Venkat Mondeddu, Guru Paradharami, Prasheel, Kaushal Tripati, and Madhav Kusum.

IFA thanked the media partners for promoting the event and supporting throughout: TV9, TV5, TV Asia, NRI Pulse, Khabar, India Tribune, YuppTV, WowNow, GNN, and Telugu Patrika.

10_19_AT-IFA-Young-Woman-Drummer_Slide.jpg

Photo Galleries: https://www.vakiti.com/IFA/n-LXfTc3/FreedomMela-2019/

Several photo galleries by Sri Photos are posted on Facebook, e.g. 108 photos on the

 Odissi Classical Dance - Freedom Mela 2019 

Basant Pallavi performance by Abhinaya Dance Academy:
Pallavi is a pure dance item in which a raga is elaborated through eye movements, body postures and intricate footwork. Pallavi literally means blooming. This is applicable not only to the dance but also to the music, which accompanies it. Pallavi starts with slow, graceful, lyrical movement of the eyes, neck, torso and feet and slowly builds in a crescendo to climax in a fast tempo at the end. The name of the dance item is always based on the Raaga of the song accompanying it. For example, Basant Pallavi is performed in Basant Raaga and celebrates the advent of spring in all its glory.
Photography by Suresh K Volam & Kamala Kuricheti

 Gujarati Folk Dance - Freedom Mela 2019 by kids group of 'Nritya Creations by Prady'
 Gussadi Dance - Freedom Mela 2019 by GATeS team 
 Star Angels Performance - Freedom Mela 2019  on Patriotic Songs as a tribute to Mother India by Garima Dance Academy
 Kids Patriotic Dance - Freedom Mela 2019 by Kids of Amruta Dance Academy
Unity in Diversity - Freedom Mela 2019  India’s 7 states language fusion with their folk and classical dance moves
 Tribute to Madhuri Dixit - Freedom Mela 2019 by Dance Yourself Group (choreographed by Rani Rayidi)
 Bhangra Vs HipHop Bollywood - Freedom Mela 2019 by NG's Dance Group (choreographed by Neeta Surange) 
 Warriors Dance - Freedom Mela 2019 by Swag Girls (Choreographed by Baljeet Kaur)

 

Videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhcvoq8ivR-8u07Gq1k_6unlpOEsVIeMS


[Updated October 2, 2019.]

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