Lighting the lamp for India’s freedom … Virtually

Lamp lighting at Marriott, Hoffman Estate, IL by Founder President Sunil Shah, President 2020 Gurmeet Singh Dhalwan, Founder & Past President Onkar Sangha, Founding Member Rita Singh & CEO Marriott Amarbir Singh Ghoman. (Photo: FIA)

India’s Independence Day celebrated online and in person with gusto by Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago

Amid the continued Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the Federation of Indian Associations kicked off the Indian Independence Day celebrations with a unique lamp-lighting ceremony –  a two-part ceremony with in-person and virtual combined.

The President of FIA Chicago Sunil Shah, joined by Rita Shah, Gurmeet Dhalwan, Onkar Sangha, Rita Singh, Amarbir Ghoman, who were physically present at Marriott, Hoffman Estates did the honors of lighting an actual lamp in person. At the same time, the remainder of the FIA Team held up candles on Zoom and Facebook, while all other participants raised their hands to join in honoring India. This also reflected FIA’s tagline ‘United we stand” according to a press release from FIA Chicago describing the innovative process.

The Aug. 15, 2020 event was organized by FIA along with Chicago Marriott Northwest, and lasted one and half hours.

Following Govt. issued Covid-19 regulations, and observing social distancing norms, this event was offered on-site for a limited few numbers of people, while most people joined via Zoom or Facebook live feed, the press release said.

The American national anthem by Jenish Bulsara was followed by that of India sung by Pratibha Jairath and Vinita Gulabani, who were also the emcees for the event. A welcome dance portraying patriotism was presented by the students of SR Academy. Later in the program, more patriotic songs were sung by Bulsara.

Several people gave speeches during the event.  FIA Founder President Sunil Shah, welcomed everyone. He also introduced Chairman of Ghoman Group, Amarbir Ghoman.

He was followed by Gurmeet Singh Dhalwan, president FIA-Chicago, and Onkar Sangha, founder and past- president.

Rita Singh, founding member introduced Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois.

Neil Khot, another founding member, introduced India’s Consul General in Chicago Amit Kumar, who wished everyone and also provided information about support services offered by the Consulate.

Dhalwan emphasized FIA’s decision to be cautious in celebrating the Independence Day virtually.

“FIA Chicago has been instrumental in bringing our Indian American community together through cultural activities and being an umbrella association helping all in whatever way we could,” Dhalwan said. “We started this year with a successful grand event of celebration of India’s republic day by having a health fair. We were planning for many more opportunities to bring our diaspora together when this worldwide pandemic brought it to this stage.”

But Dhalwan said, FIA persisted and committee members never halted their efforts to help the community. He also thanked front line healthcare workers for their effort and sacrifices.

Lamp Lighting ceremony, was followed by the Introduction of the FIA executive team:

Founder President – Sunil Shah
Current President 2020 – Gurmeet Singh Dhalwan
Founder & Past President – Onkar Singh Sangha
Founding Members – Neil Khot, Mukesh Shah, Rita Singh
Dhitu Bhagwakar, Sunny Kular
Past President – Ninad Daftari
Exec Vice President – Hitesh Gandhi, Kamal Patel
Vice Presidents – Vinita Gulabani, Shital Daftari, Chetan Patel
Altaf Bukhari, Jatinder S Bedi

Advisory Board Members – Syed Hussaini, Manish Gandhi, Brij Sharma, Asha Oroskar, Smita Shah, Pradeep Shukla. Neal Patel, Jasbir Sugga, Keerthi Reevori, Aishwarya Sharma, Pinky Thakkar
Secretary – Varsha Visal
Treasurer – Vaishal Talati
Cultural Secretary- Hema Shastri

Joint Cultural Secretary – Abir Maru
Joint Treasurer – Ila Patel Chaudhari
Joint Secretary – Ashwani Mahajan

Directors – Vibha Rajput, Pratibha Jairath, Anu Malhotra, Richa Chand,
Subbu Iyer, Sonia Luther, Mukesh Shah, Hitesh Patel, Vikram Seth, Vik Kalwani, Ashima K. Washington, Nisha Mathews, Jesse Singh, Jitendra Bulsara, Harsh Shah, Mandeep Kumar, Saurin Thakkar, Tanvi Dhillon, Vaikunth Patel, Amar Chaudhari

Other speakers at the event included  State Representative Michelle Mussman; Hoffman Estate Mayor William Mcleod ; CEO Redberri Corp Deepak Kant Vyas; CEO Metropolitan Asian Family Services (MAFS) Santosh Kumar; Advisory Board members, Brij Sharma, Asha Oroskar; Sr. VP Hanmi Bank, Syed Hussaini; Pinky Thakkar.

This year, FIA-Chicago honored the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, front-line workers, for their selfless service to humanity during dire times.

The following individuals were recognized: Dr. Sreenivas Reddy, Falguni Dave, Vikas Shahal, Air India Manager at O’Hare Airport, Kalpesh Joshi from Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA); and Executive Vice President of Gandhi Samaj of Chicago Hitesh Gandhi.

Following the recognitions and speeches, a vote of thanks was given by Varsha Vishal to all those attending virtually and in-person, as well as to supporters and sponsors. Supporters included the Ghoman Group, Harry Ghoman, New York Life -Sunil Shah, Remax – Jesse Singh, as well as Orochem, Redberri, Mag Mile Capital, Jigar’s Kitchen, Air India, and Vinakom.

Shah also thanked the sponsors as well as media support which came from among others, Desi Talk in Chicago of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold.





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