GRANADA HILLS, CA-Thousands of Indian-Americans gathered at the Granada Hills Charter School here, to celebrate the 69th Independence Day of India on Aug. 22 at an event organized by the Indian Association of Los Angeles (IALA). India’s Ambassador to the United States, Arun Kumar Singh was the chief guest.
Sherman pointed to his continued interest in the community and India, saying he was a member of the India Caucus in Congress from its inception. He spoke of various areas where he hopes to make a difference including increasing trade between India and the US from the present $120 billion dollars to $500 billion. He said he was also working to make sure that Sikhs in the US were able to serve in the American military and stay true to their tradition of wearing the turban. He said he worked for the establishment of special envoy to state department to focus on religious minorities in South Asian and Middle East so that there could be focus on the human rights of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan and other places where they were a minority.
The Congressman presented an American flag that had flown over the Capitol in Washington DC to IALA and said the organization had brought not only Indian-Americans, but the entire San Fernando Valley together to celebrate Indian culture.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander who is now running for LA County Supervisor said with eight temples in the San Fernando Valley, the Indian-American community contributed back every single day, culturally, professionally, religiously, spiritually. He presented a resolution and a proclamation on behalf of the city to IALA.
Vinod Manchhani, President IALA noted the presence of Ambassador Singh’s wife, Maina Chawla Singh and thanked her for joining in, in the celebrations. He also thanked all the office bearers and volunteers of IALA for their work in putting the event together. Raman Chadha, Director IALA also saluted the organizers and volunteers who had worked to organize the event.
Iqbal Singh Samra, Chairman IALA said 16 years ago, Inder Singh, now Chairman GOPIO International, along with Kumar Jawa reached out to the Indian-American community in the San Fernando Valley and began organizing the mela. Since that time, the event was growing bigger each year. Inder Singh said Indian-Americans in the Valley area were excited to have the Ambassador amidst them and said US President Barack Obama had taken a great step to re-energize India-US relations by appointing an Indian American to be America’s Ambassador to India. Event was emceed by Vineet Puri, who introduced Rajiv Dalal, a young attorney running for California State Assembly from the Burbank-Glendale area. The celebrations which started early evening continued till midnight. The flag hoisting ceremony was followed by the rendering of the Indian and American national anthems. The cultural program showcased India’s rich heritage of classical dances, the new wave of Bollywood dance and the ever popular folk dances. Nearly 120 performers provided non-stop, highly energetic, power packed and fun filled cultural items. There were over 65 booths displaying a variety of products and promoting services. Restaurant owners delighted visitors with mouth watering dishes and boutique shops displayed the latest design in women’s apparel. Many banks, religious organizations, insurance services and NGO’s utilized the opportunity to put forth their cause. There was a free health fair which was availed of by many.