The Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago (FIA), hosts impressive 75th Republic Day of India celebrations

Presnet and past leaders of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA Chicago) hold up flags of India during the lamp-lighting ceremony, as they pose for a photo Jan. 28, 2024, celebrating the 75th Republic Day of India. PHOTO:FIA Chicago

The Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago (FIA), elevated the celebration of India’s Republic Day to new heights on January 28, 2024, at the prestigious Matrix Club in Chicago. This momentous occasion, dedicated to honoring the adoption of the Constitution of India, exuded patriotic fervor, and presented a vibrant tapestry of the rich cultural diversity of that nation.

The highlight of the evening was the performance by acclaimed artists from India, led by the talented Shahid Rafi, the son of the legendary Padma Shri recipient Mohammad Rafi.

The lamp-lighting ceremony was conducted FIA leaders –  Founder and Chairman Sunil Shah, President Vinita Gulabani, President Pratibha Jairath, and esteemed past presidents, Advisory Board members, Directors, and Members many of whom were called on stage.

FIA’s General Secretary, Nilabh Dubey, introduced the evening’s main emcees Anu Malhotra and Suchitra Kukreja, who effortlessly took command of the stage.

India’s Consul General in Chicago Somnath Ghosh, giving a speech at the FIA Chicago celebration of India’s 75th Republic Day, which the organization held on Jan. 28, 2024. Also seen in photo Past President Vinita Gulabani, current President Pratibha Jairath, and Chairman Sunil Shah. PHOTO: FIA Chicago

Shah, in his speech, dwelt on FIA’s pivotal role in uniting the diaspora in and around Chicagoland over the past several years, including expanding into neighboring states.

Past President Vinita Gulabani highlighted the achievements of 2023, emphasizing the phenomenal growth from 58 to over 160 members; a 300 percent increase in funding; expansion of  event sizes, and the number of events hosted.

Current President Pratibha Jairath thanked the executive members and outlined her ambitious plan for 2024. She introduced an additional event on the annual roster, Animal Medical Welfare and Care, thus expanding community engagement.

The Chief Guest for the evening, India’s Consul General Somnath Ghosh, spoke passionately about the relevance of India’s Republic Day to the Indian Diaspora, conveying key messages from the President of India to the audience.

FIA’s Advisory Board members, instrumental in the organization’s decade-long growth, took center stage – Syed Hussaini, Manish Gandhi, Asha Oroskar, Pinky Thakkar, Lakhvir Sahota, Dr. Anuja Gupta, Dr. Bhupinder Beri, Dr. Suresh Reddy, Nimish Jani, Shrujal Patel, Sushma Bhanot, Shital Daftari, and Jasbir Suga shared their perspectives on FIA’s contributions to the community, underscoring the collective impact made month after month.

A patriotic performance followed as children from the Atharv Dance Academy, performed a foot-stomping dance that echoed the spirit of the evening.

The festivities included bestowing of awards and honors upon exceptional individuals, who included Sudhir and Archana Agarwal, Pinky & Dinesh Thakkar, Chintan & Digna Patel, Chirag Patel, Sunny Patel, Arjun Patel, Manish & Shailja Gandhi, Suketu Amin, Kunal Sarangi (ex-MLA), Naresh Shah, Dr. Bhupinder Beri, and Jayanti Oza.

The FIA presented its annual scholarships to, 6 remarkable individuals who were chosen through a rigorous process led by Vinita Gulabani and Kamlesh Kapoor from FIA. Consul General Somnath Ghosh, Swapnil Shah, Sahaj Shah, Asha Oroskar, Lakhvir Sahota, Kamlesh Kapoor, presided over the awards ceremony. Vice President of FIA and pro-MC Richa Chand, announced the recipients of the scholarships, highlighting their remarkable achievements.

Chandini Duvvuri, Vice President of FIA, gave the Vote of Thanks.

President Vinita Gulabani ushered in the main cultural show by introducing the artists from India and across the globe. Shahid Rafi was welcomed on stage and carried himself with grace and nostalgia, as he guided the audience through the corridors of memory, offering poignant insights into Mohammad Rafi’s personal life and his role as a father.

Shahid Rafi, 2nd from left, son of legendary Bollywood playback singer Mohammad Rafi, receiving a gift from FIA past president Vinita Gulabani, current president Pratibha Jairath, and Chairman Sunil Shah, Jan. 28, 2024, during India’s Republic Day celebrations in Chicago. PHOTO: FIA Chicago

The cultural extravaganza took the audience through a time capsule of Bollywood’s golden era. Classics such as “Aajkal Tere Mera Pyar Kay Charche,” “Chaahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe,” “Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra,” “Gulabi Aankhen,” and “Parda Hai Parda” echoed through the venue.

During the rendition of ‘An Evening in Paris,’ Sunil Shah’s signature dance moves brought everyone to the floor, with calls for encores after each performance by Neelajan Ray, Priyanka Mittra, Sammy M., Gautami Roy, Prakhar Ghosh, and Mohammad Salamat. Even the Q&A session between Rizwan and Shahid Rafi with its touches of humor, left the audience clamoring for more.

As Shahid Rafi’s patriotic melodies filled the air, a poignant   the senior citizens who had witnessed the trials and triumphs of India’s freedom struggle, displayed emotion. The evocative strains of timeless classics like “Mera Rang De Basanti Chola,” “Karo Zindagi Ko Watan Ke Hawaale,” and “Nafrat Ki Laathi Todo” stirred deep emotions, bringing tears to the eyes of those who had personally lived through the historic era. They were a poignant tribute to the enduring legacy of India’s struggle for independence.

Based on the many requests, the program was continued for some more time, ending finally as the clock struck midnight.

“This FIA, Chicago event was not merely a reflection, but a vivid manifestation of our love for India and profound pride in being part of the world’s largest democracy,” CG Ghosh said.



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