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Festival of India celebrates 75 years of India’s Independence

September 2022
Festival of India celebrates 75 years of India’s Independence

India American Cultural Association (IACA) commemorated 75 years of Indian Independence with a grand celebration on Saturday, August 13, 2022 at Gas South Center in Atlanta. With panoply of bazaar, fanfare, performances, pageantry, seminars, competitions, and food stalls, Festival of India (FOI) attracted a whopping 5000 attendees and almost 60 vendors.

[Left] Flag Walk at Hudgens Center for Arts parking lot.

Led by IACA President Chand Akkineni, the program was kicked off with the customary Flag March which had representatives from various community organizations come together to carry the 300-feet long Indian flag across the Hudgens Center for Arts parking lot.


A host of activities, designed to engage every age group, were organized throughout the day: a health fair, a panel discussion by Emory Global Diabetes Research Center, cultural programs, conference, chess tournament, BanyanWay dating and matchmaking sessions, Yoga/Healthfulness session, Senior Azadi ka Mela, Success-Intergenerational Dialogue, venture sports, Aurobindo lectures, fashion show, public speaking and Recycling Right.

[Right] Odisha Society of America - Georgia Chapter:
Folk dance, Sambalpuri.

The VIP guests to inaugurate the program were Dr. Swati V. Kulkarni, Consul General of India in Atlanta; Sonali Bendre, Actor and Cancer Survivor; Chris Carr, Attorney General of Georgia; Robb Pitts, Chairman of Fulton County Board of Commissioners; Kyle Gomez- Leineweber, Policy and Constituent Services Coordinator to the Chair, Gwinnett County Government; Kirkland Dion Carden, Commissioner – District 1, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners; and Dr. Michelle Au, Georgia State Senator.



Dr. Kulkarni gave away IACA Presidential Awards for Volunteer Services to Dr. Raktim Sen and Jyothsna Hegde.

[Left] Classical dance winners: Abhinaya Dance Academy.

Shining in her rose gold attire, Sonali Bendre rang in the 76th Independence Day in Atlanta. A leading Bollywood actor of the 90’s and a cancer survivor, she was introduced to attendees in “Koffee with Karan” style of question- and-answer session. Fans got a chance to get up and interact with the popular actor who graciously riposted.

 The office of Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, sent video wishes to the event.

Emcees Archith Seshadri, Dr. Aarti Pandya, Anu Romesh, Vishwanath Ganti, Malika Garrett Ghosh, Nidhi Rana Kharbanda, Anant Rajan, and Shilpa Iyer indulged and engaged the crowd effectively all through over 60 cultural performances!


Ranjithaveena Pol led the registration along with Dhananjay Gupta, Rajan Vedak, Ram Maddi, Harika Pavan, Malini, Rajen, Sachin Sharma, Atul Wadyalkar, Priya Misra, Ami Patel, and Chaya.

[Right] Chess tournament in progress.

The health fair was led by Dr. Inderpaul Singh and Dr. Uma Jonnalagadda with several leading physicians in participation.

The fashion show organized by Rina Gupta, led by designer Priyal Doshi, and choreographed by popular Bollywood choreographer Utsav Dholakia, offered the audience a spectacular show.



[Left] President of IACA, Chand Akkineni and Attorney General of Georgia, Chris Carr gifting plaque of appreciation to Consul General of India in Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni. 

The cultural team, led by program director Bhavini Rajan and AV handled by Rajan, had Asawari, Sreedevi, Nidhi, and Swati Aggarwal teaming up to efficiently manage the performances despite various challenges.

The dance competition judges included Kumud Savla, Divya Srivastava, Geetanjali Talukdar, Uma Muralidhar, and Sreedevi Dadihota.

The dance competition winners (Classical) were: first place by Abhinaya Dance Academy (Odissi) with director Bhipikta Panda; second place by Bhartha Darshan Performing Ensemble (Bharatanatyam) with director Soujanya Madhusudan. The dance competition winners (Semi Classical/ Folk) were: first place by Dewani (Semi-Classical) with coordinator Valencia John; second place by Assamese Dance Group (Folk Dance of Assam) with coordinator Subalita Baruah. The dance competition winners (Bollywood/ Fusion) were: first place by Dance Flix (Bollywood) with director Anusha Hussaini; second place by Naach Dance Academy (Fusion) with director Sareena Nagpal.


The drawing competition, led by Anamika Pol and Geeta Buttan, was an added bonus to attendees with kids. The drawing contest winners were: Varsha Patil - Jury Award; Priyadarsini Nachimuthu - Jury Award (30 years). In Kindergarten category of the competition, the winners were Sayan Jain - Jury Award; Sloka - Jury Award; and Parth Mahaja. In Elementary category: Sloka Kankapalli – first place; Tara Manickraj – second place; and Adyasree – third place. In Middle /High School category: Tania Titu – first place; Ashwindh Ramesh – second place; and Ashwindh Patil - third place.

[Right] Success: Intergenerational Dialogue panel in session.

The chess competition, led by Suriya, was well received with two chess masters bringing in most of the students from their classes for the competition.

The public speaking competition was led by Ranjithaveena Pol, Sachin Sharma, Lina, and Jeanelle. With over 50 people participating in four categories., the Toastmasters Leaders, who had collaborated with IACA, conducted the program efficiently. The winners in Elementary School were Jerric Jayasarathi, Aradya Chandra, and Anvit Chandragiri; in Middle School were Agamya Chandra and Archin Morajkar; in High School were Abhimanyu Bhanjan and Atharva Pawar; and in Adults (Table Topics) were Pradnya Mishra, Ritu Budharaja, and Suresh Gaherwar.AT_11_09_22.jpg

[Left] Premiere of the FOI Annual Yearbook. 

In Lawn Tennis competition: in Men’s Doubles category, the winners were Manoj Kumar and Shan Ramaswamy; the runners-up were Bobby Sethi and Nat Krishnan. In Mixed Doubles category, the winners were Priya Ramaswamy and Jag Ramaswamy; and the runners-up were Malika Ghosh Garrett and Nat Krishnan.

Several scholarships were also awarded at the event. The Need-Based Finalists were Anirudh Sanjay Kowlagi, Kartik Singh Negi, Nandini Joshi, Reena Sayani, Rhea Sethi Shana, Mahiya Sah, Sukrutha Suthari, Sumedha Budaraju, Vandanadevi Dasarapu, and Yash Sajjan. The Merit-Based Finalists were Himani Vidya, Kalra Omer, Mujawar Prasad, Kirti Shetye, Samiksha Gaherwar, and Sneha Sri Tallam.

Archith Seshadri, Vandana Agarwal, and Sandhya Prashanth led the yoga sessions. Dr. Venkat Narayan and his team of doctors from Emory discussed diabetes in Indians in a highly informative session moderated by Dr. Gulshan Harjee.

Dr. Nisha Gupta led the Defining Success Seminar engaging panelists Amit Arora, Archith Seshadri, Priya Misra, Senria Nath, Vaisheshi Jalajam, Jyothsna Hegde, and audience alike.

Dr. Kundan Singh presented a very interactive session with Q&A by professors from UGA and University of West Georgia. The session was coordinated by Geetanjali Talukdar.

The Green Cell team of Sandesh Shinde, Pankaj Rajankar, Sri Lakshmi, and Malini Devi collaborated with IACA for Go Green Initiative. Venture sports enthusiasts Deepika Chalke, Sanjay Jain, and Ram Durvasala led the meetup to discuss their interests and encourage aspiring sportsmen.

The Senior Azadi Mela, coordinated by Prajakta Padgaonkar, Poonam Datta, Nivedita Rath, Garabadu, and Shezadi, was very well received.

—Sarika Jaswani with inputs from IACA

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