Addison, IL: The 2019 4th Annual Desi Talk Chicago Diwali Mela captured the true spirit of Diwali as thousands of attendees and more than 270 youth performers, vendors, community organizations participated in the full-day event on October 13, 2019, at Shalimar Banquets in Addison, Illinois.
The community event attracted distinguished public officials, including Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who represents Illinois’ 8th District and the Consul General of India in Chicago Sudhakar Dalela.
Co-founded by the Founder and Chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Executive Vice President Bhailal Patel, the event is the brainchild of Ilayas Quraishi, Parikh Worldwide Media’s Chief Operating Officer.
“Our vision was to bring the community together and give a platform to young talent. We also wanted small businesses to flourish and exhibit their products in the market and connect the Chicago area community to elected officials and community leaders,” said Quraishi.
“Each year, the number of attendees and participants continues to grow. The response from the community this year was once again surpassed our expectations. We look forward to attracting even larger participation from the Chicago area community in 2020,” he added.
Shazia Sheikh co-emceed the event with Urvashi Verma and worked as event coordinator. Muslima Shethawala, Chicago office manager of Desi Talk, welcomed all the guests with flower bouquets.
The Addison township mayor sent his video message and letter to wish Diwali to the Indian community members welcomed them in the township. Several community leaders of Chicagoland attended the event to support the event
Krishamoorthi took the stage to share the message of Diwali with audience members.
“Diwali, the festival of lights is about bringing darkness into light. I want to thank all youth and their parents for their hard work in putting together these performances,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Krishnamoorthi who is a Democrat and supporter of immigration rights, stated: “I support immigration for families like yours so that you can prosper and offer a bright future to your children.”
Dalela commenced the official lamp lighting ceremony. U.S. Bank representative and branch manager Syed Nizami, Malini Vaidyanathan, manager at Midwest at Air India Limited; Anuja Gupta, co-founder of WE, and community leaders Sunil Shah, Ashfaq Hussein Syed, Neil Khot, joined in the ceremony.
Vaidyanathan was bestowed with an honorary plaque for her ongoing support of the community through Air India initiatives. Gupta, the co-founder of WE, a networking platform for Indian women in Chicago, was awarded a special recognition for work in women’s empowerment. Shah, who is the president of The Federation of Indian Associations, was recognized for his leadership with a plaque in his honor. Each of the 270 participants also received a medal for their hard work and participation in this year’s mela.
The highlights of the event included more than 31 power-packed back-to-back performances, ranging from Indian classical, folk, and Bollywood dance performances to live singing and yoga exercises and meditation performed by local artists and community groups. The performances highlighted the talent of youth and adults ranging in age from three to 43.
The list of performers at mela:
• Bolly DanceFit
• Team Ghunguru
• Sahaja Yoga Meditation
• Soni Sisters
• Niti Kumar/Sahini
• Driti’s Dance Group
• Atharv Dance
• Jhankar Queens
• Team Nachle Dance Group
• Albeli Choriyaan / Dance Diversity
• Nikki Sharma
• Komal’s Group
• Dance Performance
• Mitesh Kambli
• Dance Diversity Group
• Body n’ Brain Yoga Health Center
• Aarushi-Poonam & Ruchi
• Jhanak Dance Group
• Rock Stars
• Anoushka Rakshit
• Prashanti Mahesh
• Neer Styles
• Panchal Group
• Dancing Dolls
• Rina Rocker’s
• Richa Bansal
• Desi Hoppers
• Kiara Neema
• Saachi Sheth, Prisha Ballaney, Avya
• Madhu’s Dance Academy
U.S. Bank was the event’s 2019 office title sponsor. “We were thrilled to participate and sponsor this event, which is part of U.S. Bank’s diversity initiative. It was great to see the community come to support our youth. U.S. Bank is proud to be a part of this event,” Nizami said.
The all-day event attracted crowds from the Midwest as families took part in family activities. This year’s children’s program included face painting, balloon animal art, and henna painting.
A photo booth was designed to ensure that performers and attendees could remember the fun event. Several food vendors offered delectable items such as dabeli, vada pav, and a variety of Indian sweets.
“We like coming to the Diwali Mela Chicago because it showcases the community and is the only free Diwali event open to the general public. Most other events have a ticket price. The Desi Talk Mela is free of cost and allows us to see our children perform in a community celebration during the festive season of Diwali,” said an attendee.
Vendors showcased handcrafted clothes, ethnic jewelry, and household items in the market. Attendees had the opportunity to purchase unique and artful items exclusively curated for the event from across all parts of India.
“We are looking for a sherwani for my son and wanted to make sure we came early so we could have the best selection. It’s nice to purchase items that are not generally available in large stores. We are delighted with our purchases,” said one attendee.
Attendees also participated in three free raffle drawings, which included a round trip ticket to India by Air India, a gold set donated by Andaaz Jewelers, and a surprise raffle prize from U.S. Bank.
“We will be back next year with more programming and an even bigger and better event,” said Quraishi.
Desi Talk’s 5th Annual Diwali Mela will take place on November 1, 2020.