Association of Indians in America hosts Benefit Gala, Diwali celebration in New York

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A Fashion Show featuring glamorous traditional Indian dresses, was the highlight of the Oct. 16, 2021, Benefit Gala and Diwali hosted by the Association of Indians in America, New York Chapter, at the Douglaston Manor in Douglaston, New York. Photo: ITV Gold

The New York chapter of the Association of Indians in America (AIA), considered one of the oldest national associations of people of Indian origin in this country, held its Annual Benefit Gala and 34th Diwali celebrations Oct. 16, 2021, at Douglaston Manor in Douglaston, New York.

Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, left, Dr. Sudha Parikh, center, with Shashi Shah, the immediate past president of the Association of Indians in America, NY Chapter, Oct. 16, 2021, at Douglaston Manor in N.Y., where the AIA held its Benefit Gala and Diwali celebrations. Photo: ITV Gold

Except for the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the AIA has hosted Diwali at South Street Seaport since 1987, which has been a signature event attended by almost 100,000 people from around the state and neighboring states.

After a gap of two years, organizers continued to be safe by holding a benefit gala to raise money for projects in India, and celebrate Diwali albeit differently, with all Covid regulations being observed.

One of the highlights of the Oct. 16 event was a fashion show where the focus was on glamorous traditional Indian dresses.

Harish Thakkar, president of Association of Indians in America, NY Chapter, with Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, at the Oct. 16, 2021 Benefit Gala and Diwali celebrations hosted by AIA in Douglaston, NY. Photo: ITV Gold

Harish Thakkar, current president of AIA welcomed guests and also thanked Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, for being there, and supporting the organization since its inception decades ago.

Dr. Parikh praised AIA for empowering the second generation of Indian-Americans with its cultural and Indian heritage activities and taking up charitable causes. He praised Shashi Shah, immediate past-president of AIA, and Harish Thakkar for “excellent work” for the Indian community. Thakkar called Dr. Parikh, “a very big supporter of AIA” and its member since inception.

A section of the audience at the Oct. 16, 2021, Benefit Gala and Diwali celebrations hosted by the Association of Indians in America, in Douglaston, NY. Photo: ITV Gold

Dr. Urmilesh Arya, president of the National AIA, noted how Diwali is a hallmark event of AIA, and that this was a “pre-Diwali” event. In her ITV Gold interview, she dwelt on AIA’s past successes, including celebrating Diwali in  City Hall, at Gracie Mansion, and at the White House, as well as making the Diwali stamp a success.

Other members of the National AIA also spoke briefly to ITV Gold, and praised the organization, welcoming everyone to the Diwali celebrations.

Founded on August 20, 1967 after the United States Congress passed the 1965-66 Immigration Act repealing the Asian Exclusion Act of 1917, the AIA adopted its constitution in 1970, and was incorporated in 1971. Since 1973, it has enjoyed a tax-exempt status.

Since 1987, AIA celebrated Deepavali at South Street Seaport, attended by some 100,000 people or so.

It has chapters and membership spread across the United States of America, the AIA said in its press release, and has as its founding theme – ‘Indian Heritage, American Commitment.’

Its objectives include promoting the welfare of ‘Asian Indians’ (the term used in the U.S. Census for people of Indian origin) in the U.S., and addressing issues of integration with mainstream America.

It also aims to promote the image of India in the U.S. by showing its rich culture and traditions through various events.

In addition, it engages and encourages the participation of AIA members and others in the development and progress of India through charitable, cultural and educational activities.

 

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