Indian Ambassador hosts reception to celebrate spring festivities

Ambassador Taranjit Sandhu addressing guests at the community reception on June 11 at India House in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Washington D.C. – As part of festivities to celebrate harvest and spring seasons, the Indian Embassy hosted a community reception on June 11th at India House, where performers from the Indian diaspora presented colorful performances representing the four corners of India – Baisakhi in Punjab, Ugadi in Karnataka and southern states, Rongali Bihu in Assam, and Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra.

Ambassador Taranjit Sandhu as well as all five Consuls-General representing India New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago were present at the reception.

Members of the Virginia Giddha Group performing Giddha at the community reception on June 11 at India House in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Ragis from the Sikh Foundation of Virginia sang the keerthan “Awal Allah Noor Upaya Kudart De Sab Bande,” followed by a the popular Giddha folk dance traditionally performed by the Virginia Giddha Group.

Representing India’s southern states, a folk performance with a Kannada song “Chellidaru Mallige,” was presented by a six-member group, and Lezim, a traditional folk dance from rural Maharashtra, was performed by Marathi Kala Mandal, representing D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

To represent North-Eastern states, Bihu, an Assamese folk-dance was presented, and a classic Assamese song, by legendary Indian artist Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, describing humanity and unity, was performed.

Ambassador Taranjit Sandhu said he was happy to see a large in-person gathering of community members from around the U.S., young and old. This was the strength of the Indian-American diaspora, and India is very proud of its achievements, he said.

He spoke of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav initiative which celebrates 75 years of independence, and 75 years of India-US diplomatic relations. In the last one-and-a-half years, despite all challenges and difficulties, Prime Minister Modi and President Biden have met for in-person meetings twice, and seven times virtually, he noted. Bilateral trade has reached an all-time high at $160 billion despite supply chain constraints, pandemic challenges, and with no free trade agreements between the two countries, he said.

Folk dance representing southern states being performed at the community reception on June 11 at India House in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

He praised the community for playing a “very significant role” in transforming the bilateral relationship. Today, according to him, 60 per cent of the generic drugs in the United States are produced by Indian companies, an important factor with inflation setting in.

Stressing that India is the fastest growing economy in the world, he urged younger generations stay connected with India, visit India with family and friends and witness the ongoing transformation. He highlighted a few achievements such as 1.3 billion Indians have biometric identities, 45 per cent of the 70,000-plus startups in India have women directors, 350 million people use internet in rural India, billion-dollars’ worth unicorns are created almost every week, 40 per cent of world’s digital payments occur in India, and 1.9 billion doses of COVID vaccines have already been administered.

He urged everyone to contribute to India, and support areas such as education, hospital, and knowledge partnership in their respective states. “In today’s world, knowledge and education partnership are very significant,” he said, and dwelt on efforts to grow this sector with 140 universities. “You will be aware there are almost 200,000 Indian students, and two thirds of them in STEM areas, like you, they bring value to the United States. That is the strong connect between United States and India,” Ambassador Sandhu said.

Classic Assamese song, by legendary Indian artist Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, being sung at the community reception on June 11 at India House in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Consul-General of India in Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni told News India Times, “It’s nice to celebrate the New Year festivities that we celebrate in India with much fanfare. It’s good to see so many Indian-Americans on one platform and that’s our strength. Indian-Americans have really done well. They are successful and have built a knowledge network between India and the US. They are preserving their rich cultural heritage here. So, we are proud of them.”

Consul-General of India in Houston, Aseem Mahajan told News India Times, “a vibrant Indian American community is a strong pillar in our bilateral relationship. Members of our community have excelled in various walks of life — they are bridges between both countries for flow of resources, technology, exchange of ideas, and for deepening the multifaceted India-US partnership.”

Second Secretary, Press, Information & Culture, Aditi Walunj, introduced performers and explained the meaning of festivals. Counsellor, Education & Community Affairs, Anshul Sharma, delivered the vote of thanks at the reception.

Others present at the event included Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Sudhakar Dalela, senior embassy officials, Indian-American cybersecurity, and global health security czars of the White House, CEOs, professionals, entrepreneurs, farmers from different states, members of think tanks, leading academics, scientists, veterans of Indian armed forces, and representatives from nonprofit organizers helping women in distress.



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