India Day 2016 – IARI Celebrates 70th Year of Indian Independence
By, NIKITA PANJWANI August 17, 2016
The India Association of Rhode Island celebrated the 70th Indian Independence Day on Sunday, August 14th 2016, at the South Lawn of the Rhode Island State House. It was a moment of pride and joy to see the Indian Flag hoisted upon the State House, which could be seen flapping away in the breeze even from a distance, serving a reminder of turmoil and challenges faced by the pioneers of the Indian Freedom movement.
Children and adults alike celebrated the event with great gusto and fanfare by participating in the various dance and singing programs, braving the record high temperatures of the season. The day witnessed a good turnout, with Congressman David Cicilline and State Representative Robert B. Lancia in attendance. While addressing the audience, Congressmen Cicilline, lauded the efforts of IARI in bringing together the highly diverse Indian community and stressed on the importance of strengthening Indo – American cultural and business ties.
The day began with the National Day parade that ended at the State House, where the festivities began, first by the rendition of the American and Indian anthems, marking an auspicious start to the rest of the day. One could see the audience, swaying and singing along to the classical and contemporary music played by Din Check – New England’s one of a kind, Bollywood band, showcasing songs from various eras and genres. This was followed the dance segment of the event, where the audience watched mesmerized, various forms of classical dances, traditional folk dances and modern contemporary dance forms by several members of the Indian community and dance groups, truly demonstrating the real beauty, diversity and amalgamation of cultures of the Indian Nation. It was a real treat to watch young children enthusiastically participating in the fashion parade, smiling to the cameras and bowing to the audience. The evening of the program was brought to an end by the grand finale lively music played live by DJ Arish.
Any program will be incomplete without delectable food, and that was in abundance, with food stalls by various well-known Indian restaurants from the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area, serving a variety of Indian food and desserts. The day was also host to henna stalls, yoga and wellness booths as well as a kid’s stall, for the children to have a great and memorable time.
Overall, the day was a resounding success, with the IARI volunteers putting in their hours and efforts in order to bring about and seize the day. Through their energies and support, IARI will continue to organize and endorse various such events and programs, aimed to building a strengthening platform.
Family Picnic 2016 – For a Cause
By NIKITA P. PANJWANI JULY 24 2016
What better way to spend a good summer day than to ‘Care and Share’ while merry making and networking with family and friends on a Sunday, at the banks of Narragansett Bay, bordering Colt State Park, Bristol, Rhode Island? This is precisely what the Friends of the Indian Community of Greater Rhode Island organized on July 17 2016. The objective was to raise funds and support for the ‘Care and Share’ initiative of the India Association of Rhode Island, supporting charities through Akshaya Patra, Amos House RI, Federal Hill House Association RI, Rhode Island Community Food Bank and Sankara Eye Foundation.
The picnic, aimed to garner the spirit of giving and spreading joy, was a tremendous success with over 250 people in attendance, all enjoying the weather, the variety of delectable food and drinks and the company of family and friends. It was a great joy to see the children having a good time at the park playing with their friends and family as well as participating in the community enrichment activities. So great was the level of energy at the venue, that Mr. Robert Lancia, RI House Representative from Cranston, along with his wife Mrs. Maryann Lancia, paid a visit, appreciating the enthusiasm as well as the dedication displayed by the children and adults alike in bringing about the event to fruition.
Through the unwavering support of dedicated volunteers, the community endeavors to provide a lending hand to various charities and causes through events, programs and activities that are meaningful as well as entertaining.
Community Outreach – IARI hosts Consul General of India
By NIKITA P. PANJWANI JUNE 20, 2016
The India Association of Rhode Island in partnership with TV Asia, hosted, on June 17 2016, for the very first time to have taken place in the state of Rhode Island, Ms. Riva Ganguly Das, Consul General of India to the Untied States, along with a delegation of several political and business dignitaries, as part of a community outreach program, aimed to engineer closer ties with the state of RI as well as promote a sense of goodwill amongst the rapidly growing Indian community in the State. The evening was preceded by a series of meetings held with the Director of International Trade Programs at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, Mayor of Providence – Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Pawtucket – Don Grebien, Congressman David Cicilline and Senator Jack Reed. The dinner was a resounding success, with over 200 guests in attendance at the Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church in Providence, Rhode Island.
The event began with a veneration Kuchipuddi (Indian Dance) performance, dedicated to invoke the blessing of Lord Ganesha – also popularly worshiped as the Lord of Beginnings, by Ms. Sampada Velury, a beautiful and mesmerizing performance - an apt beginning to a wonderful evening. The evening hosted, along with the consul general, the deputy consul general, Dr. Manoj K. Mohapatra, several business representatives from the State Bank of India, Andhra Bank, ICICI Bank, Air India and Make My Trip, as well as the Mayor of Providence, Mr. Jorge Elorza – according to whom “Providence is a culturally rich, immigrant friendly city that does not believe in keeping people out by building walls”.
While addressing the guests, Ms. Ganguly, emphasized on the progress made by Shri. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, in cultivating Indo-American business and investment relations, presenting local and international investment opportunities within India and abroad, the attractiveness of current Indian economic climate and in promoting India as an active trade relations and cultural exchange partner with the United States. Also underscoring her address was the growing importance of the services provided by the Indian Consulate in New York, such that it is now being lauded as the second largest revenue generating Indian consulate, with a central telephone help line, dedicated to assisting the Indian populace residing in the country. Deeply embedded is the Prime Minister’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ (clean India) campaigned, intended, not just to keep the country clean aesthetically, but also from within, such as limiting bureaucracy and promoting efficiency of services.
IARI also took this evening as an opportunity to recognize, prominent members of the Indian community in Rhode Island, for their significant contributions to sciences, education, health care, society and public service. A special mention was also made to the efforts and contributions of the past presidents and the incumbent president Dr. Amrut Patel, in bringing the India Association of Rhode Island into rapid prominence, the profound effect of which can be endorsed by the passage of the Peace resolution by Rhode Island house of Representatives, declaring September 21 2016, to be celebrated as the International Day of Peace in RI. The evening came to an end, by honoring the students of the community by awarding them with citations from the Mayor’s Office – City of Pawtucket, RI for scholastic and non-scholastic excellence and achievements. This came about by the ceaseless efforts of Mr. Tushar Patel - IARI and Angel S. from the Mayor’s Office, which claims this kind of citation to be the first of a kind awarded to students, by the city of Pawtucket.
On a closing note, IARI, hopes, with the help of its unceasing team of volunteers, to increasingly focus its efforts towards building a close knit and welfare rich South Asian community within the State and India at large, through various programs, drives and events.
The MGCC Success Story – State of Rhode Island House of Representatives passes the ‘International Day of Peace’ motion on June 1 2016.
By NIKITA P. PANJWANI JUNE 07, 2016
Another feather in the cap for the India Association of Rhode Island! On June 1 2016, a resolution passed during the January session of the House General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island, to “recognize and observe September 21 2016 as the ‘International Day of Peace’”, is one to take great delight and pride in, as this is a testimony to the success and impetus of the Mahatma Gandhi Cultural Centre initiative, started by the IARI. Due to the tireless efforts of Dr. Amrut Patel, Mr Tushar Patel along with House Representative Mr. Robert B. Lancia, September 21 2016, will now be observed with activities and ceremonies as seeming fit to promote and foster, the spirit, culture and reality of nonviolence, as envisioned by the ‘Great Soul’ Mahatma Gandhi, who is fondly remembered as the ‘Father of the Nation’.
Early this year, the India Association started the Mahatma Gandhi Cultural Centre initiative, designed to consolidate and mobilize the efforts and resources of the organization towards spreading the message and principals of Mahatma Gandhi, primarily those of nonviolence (ahimsa), courageousness, righteousness, vigor, parity and truthfulness. Of these, what stands out is ahimsa, also called the principal of nonviolence, which Gandhiji adopted as the way of his life, and on the strength of which led India onto the path of independence from foreign occupation. Such was his influence, that almost a decade after his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, in one of his papers heralded that the Gandhian spirit speaks to the ‘conscience’ of the world and the way to end racial segregation in America (Papers 4:355).
IARI is making concerted efforts by organizing memorials, recitations and education sessions and seminars to propagate the underlying message of peace and cessation of festering hostility - that now rules much of our daily lives in one unseen form or the other so profoundly that its effects are, almost tangible. IARI hopes to continue to traverse unfailingly onto this path and the mission that it has undertaken and promises that ‘Ahimsa’ will be the core underlying motto based on which all future events, celebrations, initiatives and fun-filled activities will be organized.
King, ‘‘His Influence Speaks to World Conscience,’’ 30 January 1958, in Papers 4:354–355.
I love to try new things and meet new people, so when I saw a posting on Facebook for the India Association of Rhode Island’s Holi Festival of Colors, I knew I had to go. My husband and I try to do something together every Sunday and this was a great opportunity to do something new and different.
The flyer described it as “the world’s happiest event” and an opportunity to “be a free spirit and play with colors.” Further research into what the Holi Festival is all about revealed that it is a “family-friendly gathering of people, united in their desire to promote love and friendship and to celebrate life.” Live music, color throwing and ethnic dances are all part of the Holi experience. This event had my name all over it.
I told my husband we need to wear something white and when it was time to leave he had his shirt all picked out. We didn’t know anyone there when we arrived, but we quickly made new friends. We had a lot of questions as to what to expect and we enjoyed learning about the history of the event and what life is like in India. Once the music came on I could not stop dancing. Keep in mind, neither my husband or I are Indian, and I have red hair, so I’m sure we stood out from the crowd, but that did not intimidate us. Everyone made us feel welcome and a part of the family.
The anticipation was quickly growing inside of me and I could not wait for the spectacle to begin. Food is always a good distraction and there was a food vendor there offering some delicious Indian cuisine. After enjoying some live singing of traditional Indian songs, it was announced that the color throwing would begin. The crowd was invited to grab individual bags of colored powder and start spreading what I call “happy dust” onto strangers. My husband and I are both 50 years old and it felt like we were five years old again, laughing and giggling and not having a care in the world about how silly we must have looked. Our colorful Holi dusted shirts are my new favorite souvenir and I’m seriously considering framing them together with our picture. It was the single best cultural event I ever attended and look forward to next year already. Thank you for coloring our world!
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By Kate Bramson
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Inside Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church, collages of Mahatma Gandhi photographs and teachings on Sunday afternoon carried a message of nonviolence — a message that drew about 100 people to gather and commemorate the peace leader whose name meant "great soul."
"You must not lose faith in humanity," one of Gandhi's quotes began in that display. "Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
At the front of the room, people took turns singing, speaking and sharing other enduring messages from Gandhi.
Sitting in the front row, awaiting his turn to speak, was North Providence High School freshman George Saban Jr. After he won second place in a writing contest sponsored by the University of Rhode Island last year, to explore the teachings of Gandhi, the India Association of Rhode Island invited him to read his essay Sunday at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Day tribute.
In his essay, Saban said perfect peace might not be achievable. But he saw small steps that could be taken in the schools to help shift society toward more peaceful methods.
One of his ideas was to create what he calls "the conversation space." He envisioned a room with a table, three chairs and a flower in the middle of the table that might influence "the minds and attitudes" of those needing to use the space. When students have disputes, he envisioned them sitting at the table, with a teacher as an arbiter in a distant corner. "The students will flush out their differences and come up with their way of resolving or compromising their issues," he wrote.
The commemoration by the India Association of Rhode Island continued, set for the day after Gandhi died in 1948 — and the same date, Jan. 31, on which he was cremated.
"You've got to love Rhode Island — a Gandhi celebration in the Armenian Church," U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline said soon after he arrived to help celebrate.
By Journal Staff
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi will be celebrated Sunday in a program sponsored by the India Association of Rhode Island.
The afternoon's events, promoting peace, nonviolence and tolerance, will commemorate the life and message of the Indian independence leader and include presentations by students, dancers and musicians. Students are invited to prepare an essay of up to 300 words about Gandhi and his message, or a poster about the event's themes.
The program will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Mahatma Gandhi Cultural Center, Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church, 70 Jefferson St., Providence.
The center, which opened in October with help from a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, provides a home for activities related to the social, cultural and educational heritage of India.
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