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IAGB Independence Day Celebrations- Event Of The Year

Ranjani Saigal

The IAGB  independence day celebrations at the Hatch Shell was quite a sight to behold with over 7000 people gathered to be part of festivities. Flanked by the Charles river on one side and Boston on the other, the event honoring India’s independence from the colonial rule epitomized what it means to be Indian American.  The event was held on  Sunday August 16, 2015.

The event opened with a welcome by Praveena Naduthota and Matthew Chacko. Following a rendition of Aye Mere Waton Ke Logon and the rendition of the American and Indian National Anthem, Dr. Anil Saigal President of IAGB gave the welcome address.  â€œThe IAGB event has returned to the Hatch Shell two years in a row after having to relinquish the spot for a year. That was possible only because of the support of the community” said Saigal. It was clear that the community was delighted to have the celebrations at the Hatch Shell and kudos to the Executive Committee for taking on the challenge of putting on this grand show. Anu Chitrapu and Dr. Manju Sheth represented Saheli and spoke about the upcoming fundraiser. Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy was the chief guest for the event and declared his pride at being an Indian American who values his own heritage and respects the country that adopted him. Chancellor Subbaswamy hoisted the Indian flag. 

The cultural showcase featured several colorful dances. Musical items featured traditional instruments like Veena, Tabla and Mridangam.  The traditional forms of dances, Garba, Bhangara and Kavadi Chindu were spectacular hits. Several innovative choreographies including one on Teej and a medley of festivals called Tyoharon Ki Masti brought out the theme of the evening which was the festivals of India. Over 300 individual participated in the cultural and acommpaning program. 

This year, the committee chose to honor leaders who have helped shape the various Indian American institutions in New England. Puran Dang, Girish Mehta, Sahdev Passey, Nannaji Saka and R. Satyaprasad were honored for their immense contributions to the community.  Jharna Madan introduced the honorees.  Volunteers who had served IAGB for over 10 years without  having a formal role on the executive committee were also honored. Govind Vakil, Raksha Soni, Ranjani Saigal, Ratan Singhvi  were honored and introduced by Lata Rao and Sutanuka Basu. 

IAGB announced the first youth excellence awards. This was presented to Manasi Danke and Gopikrishna Rao by Sanjay Gowda, Treasurer, IAGB. One of the highlights of the evening was a speech by Preetesh Shrivastav, who his great love of India in an inimitable style and went on to introduce the executive committee. 

The lawn was surrounded by vendors who used the occasion to sport their goods. Many non-profits showcased their cause. Food vendors offered lovely Indian delights. Air India offered two free tickets in India as part of a raffle package and SV Thangamaligai Jewels offered a diamond ring as raffle. The Air India tickets were won by Himani Chawla. The event ended with a vote of thanks by Ali Rizvi. 

The IAGB event at hatch shell is certainly the highlight of all Indian American events during the year. It draws the largest crowds and engages the most people both in its performances and vendor showcase. It is also a place where families gather to spend an afternoon of fun in an open arena. Kudos to Dr. Anil Saigal and the executive committee for bringing the event back to hatch shell and we hope the future IAGB committees will continue to work to hold the event at this prestigious venue. The majors sponsors of the event were Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Oxygen.

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