GRANADA HILLS, CA - Hundreds of Indian- Americans gathered in the San Fernando Valley to celebrate India’s 68 th Independence Day. Despite the scorching heat, people from all over Southern California attended the 15th annual event at Granada Hills Charter High School on August 16.
Co-Founder of IALA Inder Singh began the festivities by thanking all the volunteers who had devoted countless hours to organize the event.” “Today, we remember those who fought for India’s freedom from the British colonialists,.” said Singh who has spearheaded this annual event in the San Fernando Valley since 2000.
Congressman Brad Sherman spoke briefly about the importance of the event and the relationship between Congress and the Indian community in the San Fernando Valley. Sherman has represented the valley for the past 18 years and has been on the Congressional Caucus for India and Indian-Americans to “work for a strong relationship between the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy.” An important piece from Sherman’s speech dealt with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sherman has led an effort to pitch for a joint session in Congress for the Prime Minister during his visit to Washington in late September. Councilmember Mitch Englander continued the sentiments of Sherman by reinforcing the positive impact the Indian community has had on the San Fernando Valley. Englander represents the Northwest San Fernando Valley on the city council and has a strong relationship with the Indian community at large in Los Angeles. And on this auspicious day, Englander was honored to bestow upon IALA a certificate of recognition and appreciation for the outstanding work they have conducted within the past 15 years. Matthew Dababneh, Assembly-member for the 45th District, also spoke about his involvement within the community. Dababneh, a former Chief of Staff to Congressman Brad Sherman, represents the communities of Bell Canyon, Chatsworth, West Hills, Hidden Hills, Calabasas, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills, Winnetka, Encino, Reseda, and Northridge. As a fourth generation valley resident, Dababneh also comes from a family of immigrants. This is why he said he was so proud to help pass SB 610 - a bill passed in Congress just last week which helps protect small business franchisees.
During the event, IALA’s executive committee and board members were recognized for their contributions and continued support over the years. Members of the Board include Chairman Iqbal Samra, Raman Chadha, Ravi Grewal, and Vineet Puri. The executive committee consists of President Kumar Jawa and EVP Vinod Manchhani along with numerous other members.
The event culminated with a jam-packed entertainment bonanza hosted by Omi Vaidya. The Bollywood actor regaled the audience with some of his experiences within the industry but also was quick to recognize the organizers of the event. Vaidya stated “it is great that the Indo-American community could celebrate being Indian in Los Angeles thanks to IALA.”
A spectacular culture program was organized to showcase India’s rich heritage of classical dances. One of the most electrifying and surprising performances of the night came from Omar, a Michael Jackson impersonator. Omar wowed the crowd with his uncanny resemblance to the iconic pop star and his sultry dance moves to one of Michael Jackson’s classic hit songs.
Various Katha dances, songs, and shows continued into the wee hours of the night as attendees enjoyed the celebration with delicious treats from local vendors.
A free health fair was conducted. Medical professionals provided free blood sugar and blood pressure checkups and as well advice on how to live a healthier lifestyle including diet tips.