ROLLING MEADOWS, IL – Thousands of people showed up Oct. 14, for the 3rd annual Diwali Mela hosted by Desi Talk, the Midwest newspaper of Parikh Worldwide Media. Held at the Meadows Club, Rolling Meadows, Illinois, the event also attracted distinguished public officials and leaders including India’s Consul General in Chicago Neeta Bhushan who was the chief guest; as well as the Guest of Honor Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, who represents the 8th District; Acharya Rohit Joshi; Air India, Midwest Manager V. Malini; Syed Nizami, representative from U.S. Bank.
The lamp lighting ceremony to kick off the celebrations was conducted by Bhushan, Krishnamoorthi, Acharya Joshi, who chanted Vedic mantras, and , Executive Vice President of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold Bhailal Patel, and Ilayas Quraishi, the COO of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold.
The numbers of people who streamed in through the event was higher than the year before attracted by the success of the year before. More than 30 vendors participated in the mela which simulated an Indian fairground.
Vendors came from long distances to set up their booths from 9 am in the morning, some of them 4 to 5 hours away from the venue. There was a wide array of products ranging from food, clothes, jewelry, henna, face painting and telephone service providers, and other businesses.
This year there were multiple booths for yoga and meditation which were always busy. The participation of Verandah, a retirement community organization, showed the variety and the popularity of the mela among all ages in the Chicagoland area.
Chairman and Publisher of Parikh Worldwide Media, Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, sent his Happy Diwali message to those who were enjoying the festivities, COO Quraishi said in his speech thanking Dr. Parikh for his support.
Parikh Worldwide Media is among the largest Indian-American publishing groups in the US. It brings out five periodicals including Desi Talk in Chicago, a weekly newspaper serving the Greater Chicago area and the Midwestern states; Desi Talk in New York for the Tristate area in the Northeast; News India Times, the flagship national weekly; and Gujarat Times. Publications also include a magazine, The Indian American, and a journal, U.S.-India Global Review. The combined circulation and readership of these publications make the media group among the most influential in the ethnic Indian market. Dr. Parikh also acquired ITV Gold, the longest-running Desi channel in the U.S.
Consul General Bhushan wished everyone a Happy Diwali and a Happy Navratri in her speech.
Congressman Krishnamoorthi also wished everyone a very Happy Diwali. Krishnamoorthi, who is up for re-election Nov. 6, noted how auspicious it was that Diwali also fell on the same day. He said in his speech that though the Diwali mela was not a political arena, he would urge people irrespective of their ideological leanings, Republican, Democratic or Independent, to step out of their houses and vote on that day.
Parikh Worldwide Media recognized the Consul General Bhushan and Congressman Krishnamoorthi for their services to the community.
As in the past, the dance competition was the highlight and main attraction at the event. The three judges for the competition were Prachi Jaitley, a trained Indian classical Kathak dancer, Purnima Nath, an entrepreneur as well as music enthusiast, and Anuri Shah an upcoming young dancer and choreographer.
More than 200 participants of all ages performed on the stage. They showed their skills in group and solo performances. Quraishi thanked all the dancers for participating.
The dance troupes who participated included Fire Fly group choreographed by Diya Tushar; India Beats choreographed by Parisha Laad; Sparkle Desi Queens group choreographed by Drishti Chatterjee/Reema Chaudhuri; Blossoms, choreographed by Shraddha Marathe; IV Dance Academy choreographed by Anamika Singh; Bollywood traditional dance by Esha Patel; Anu’s Dance Academy choreographed by Swati Rajput; Dancing Divas group choreographed by Lopamudra Satpathy; Friends Atharv group choreographed by Aparna Deshmukh; Team Taal group choreographed by Garima Singh; Dancing Trio choreographed by Pavithra Nagalingam; Bollywood Fusion Dance choreographed by Alokita Dhar; Sargam Group choreographed by Saloni Shah; Nrityanjali Group choreographed by Richa Mittal; Kavitha’s Dance School choreographed by Kavitha Rao; VIP Pearls choreographed by Sheetal Chetak Lalwani; Jhanak group choreographed by Moumita Ghosh; and Bolly DanceFit choreographed by Deepthi Chiruvuri.
This year the competition was judged under three different categories. The winner in the Adults group was India Beats; the Children’s category was won by Bolly DanceFit; and Best Solo performance went to Nrityanjali. Congressman Krishnamoorthi awarded each winning categorya trophy, and each individual participant in the event was awarded a certificate.
There were performances by Sahaja Yoga Meditation (choreographed by Misha Goel and Saraswati Udar) and Body & Brain Yoga Taichi (choreographed by Iqbal Singh).
Dr. Sriram Sonti, who is running a campaign for a postal stamp dedicated Mahatma Gandhi, to be released in the U.S. on his 150th birth year anniversary day, appealed to the people to sign the petition.
There were two raffles this year. The first by the main sponsor of the event, U.S. Bank, for Amazon Echo Show, and the second raffle by Air India for a free roundtrip ticket to India.
Co-sponsors of the event were Air India and Desi Tadka Event management group. All the sponsors and the supporters were acknowledged and given plaques by the dignitaries.
Syed Nizami, from U.S. Bank, told Desi Talk that it is commendable to have such events for the community as it helps the children to know more about the festivals and culture of the community. He also said that being the main sponsor also helps U.S. Bank to reach out to more people with banking solutions suited to their needs.
The event was emceed by Shazia Shaikh as well as by Quraishi, who led the effort to organize the event. The Desi Talk Chicago office team which helped organize the event included Executive VP Patel, Muslima Sethwala, in charge of accounting and advertising, and volunteers Syed Shiraz and Irfan.
The vendors, participants, and several visitors told Desi Talk they found the event well organized and would participate in upcoming years.