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IACA celebrates 65th Republic Day with national pride and patriotic fervor

By Mahadev Desai
March 2014
IACA celebrates 65th Republic Day with national pride and patriotic fervor

Sohini Gupta, Anisha Srivastava, and Prioska Baruah perform a scintillating Assamese Jhumur dance.
(All photos: Mahadev Desai)

India American Cultural Association (IACA) celebrated India’s 65th Republic Day with guest speakers and an inspiring cultural program on January 26, 2014.

Newly elected IACA President Nivedita Garabadu extended a warm welcome. She and BOD member Padma Rallapalli (in a tiranga salwar kamiz) performed swagatam (traditional welcome) ceremony for Hon. Rajinder Singh, Consul/Head of Chancery of the Consulate of India in Atlanta; Greg Pridgeon; and former IACA President Dr. Gauranga Banik.

Garabadu introduced executive committee members VP Salil Gulve, VP Mohan Nair, Treasurer Narayan Swamy, and Secretary Vishwanath Ganti. She recognized ex-servicemen in the audience, Arun Chickmenhalli and Prashant Garud, and thanked them for their services to the nation. Led by Suma Yellamraju and Sonakshi Mishra, the gathering sang the national anthems, “Jana Gana Mana” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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Guest speaker Anand Bhika; Surinder Pal Singh, grandson of Gadarite Bhagwan Singh Gyanee; Hon. Rajinder Singh; and Greg Prigeon at IACA's 65th Republic Day celebrations. 

Hon. Rajinder Singh wished all a very Happy Republic Day. “This is an occasion when we celebrate the strength and resilience of India’s vibrant democracy, a respect for fundamental freedoms, upholding of the rule of law and commitment to friendship with neighbors and our partners all over the world including the USA. Today is an occasion for us to renew our pledge and our determination to protect our Republic and to work for the progress of our beloved nation. We have never flinched from our challenges. We will face these with basic goodness of the human spirit that imbues our people. Democracy and its enduring values can never let us down. Jai Hind.”

Chief Guest Greg Pridgeon, former Chief of Staff for Atlanta and for Rockdale County Board of Commissioners, said, “You all are ambassadors of a country that is steeped in wonderful and vast culture and steeped in wonderful products that are transported round the world. Without struggle, you very seldom have a chance for success. Sixty-five years ago and even beyond that, as you led up to this great Republic Day, there was struggle, there were difficulties, people did die, people did survive, and those who did came forth with a legacy that they brought to their children and to their grandchildren. I am honored to be a member of this wonderful fraternity and sorority of brothers and sisters. … My heart is filled with the enthusiasm in this room and my heart is filled with the friendship that I feel for you.”

Mohan Nair and Vishwanath Ganti emceed the cultural program. Sreevidhya Rajesh of Sreevidya Academy led her troupe of young singers in a moving prayer song “Ek Tu Hi Bharosa” from movie Pukaar and followed this with a second rousing song “Hum Honge Kamyaab.”

Shubhadeep Roy strummed his guitar and sang a Hindi cum Bengali song “Dhana Dhanye Pushpe Bhara
(“filled with wealth, food, and flowers”) in praise of Mother India and then ever-popular patriotic song “Vande Mataram" and “Sare Jahan Se Achha.”

Three cute little girls Sohini Gupta, Anisha Srivastava, and Prioska Baruah in glittery orange costumes performed a scintillating Assamese Jhumur dance, choreographed by Subalita Barua and coordinated by Swapnali Das of Pratibha Dance Academy. Sreekanth Murugan and his troupe in army outfits presented a rousing inspiring song “Kadam kadam badhaye ja.”

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The kids take a bow.

Mohan Nair gave a brief talk on the history and significance of the Indian national flag, known as Tiranga (tri-color).

Guest Speaker Anand Bhika, a former director of NetIP - Atlanta Chapter, shared his insights on “Rediscovering India in 21st Century - Perspectives of the Indian Youth in America.” In his upbeat tone, he said that he had fond memories of his privileged formative years in India where his dad explained to him about the sacrifices of the Indian leaders to attain India’s freedom. On Republic Day, he used to attend flag-hoisting ceremonies and thereafter engage in another Indian tradition—playing cricket! With pivotal changes in the last 15 or so years, opportunities and innovation abound in India, along with a remarkable spirit of entrepreneurship and optimism. His association with NetIP, which engages in social networking, professional networking, and community outreach efforts, gave him a keen insight into the psyche of the Indian youth. Those who are born here are absorbing both Western and Indian culture. Many are visiting India to imbibe more Indian culture. It used to be doctors, engineers, and IT consultants, but now the young generation is changing the paradigms. He cited accomplishments of Aneesh Chopra and Nina Davuluri who have merged the best of both worlds. “Let us pool our resources and talents, collaborate and inspire future leaders in our community.”

Congressman David Scott (D-GA 13th District)'s message for the occasion was read. Thanks and refreshments followed and sent IACA friends away with promise of a good year to come!

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