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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Bollywood actress Soha Ali Khan and many other dignitaries joined the India Independence parade organized by the Chicago chapter of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) here on Saturday.


Crowds of people filled Mahatma Gandhi, the route of the parade, as FIA-Chicago President Hina Trivedi, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Indian Consul General Ausaf Sayeed and his wife Farah Sayeed, parade grand marshall and actress Soha Ali Khan, trustee chairman Iftekhar Shareef and others led the colorful parade after flag-hoisting and the singing of the Indian national anthem.

A Scottish Pipe Band and a large number of women and children carrying the Indian flag walked ahead of the Governor and other dignitaries, including former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, County Clerk David Orr, Niranjan Shah and Smita Shah who is the executive director of the Delhi-Chicago Sister City Relations Committee.

The parade included 27 colorfully decked floats. As the parade with these floats snaked through the heart of India Town, enthusiastic crowds on both sides cheered each float depicting unique cultural, social and regional identity of India.

Governor Pat Quinn enthusiastically waved to crowds and actress Soha Ali Khan shook hands with people.

The drum-beats of Malayalee groups represented by Indian National Congress floats enthralled the audience, while Bengali songs filled the air with sublime music.

Jesse White’s Tumbler Team took the pride of place with its breath-taking acrobatic jumps providing a grand finale to the colorful India Independence Day parade.


Soha Ali Khan said, “I am excited and honored to be here in Chicago and celebrate with you this grand Indian Independence Day.’’

She added that India is certainly not a geographical entity defined just by its physical borders, but it is really a community of people with shared values.

Soha Ali Khan thanked FIA-Chicago leaders,including trustee chairman Iftekhar Shareef and executive director Syed Sabahat Jamal, for inviting her to Chicago.


Indian Consul General Dr. Ausaf Sayeed offered greetings to the Indian diaspora on behalf of the government of India and said that Chicago has always been very close to his heart as he had visited this city before. He praised the warmth and vibrancy of the Chicago Indian community and lauded FIA-Chicago for its work.

The Consul General presented mementos to visiting bodybuilding champions from India Mir Mohthesham Ali Khan and Esa Misri.

FIA President Hina Trivedi thanked the dignitaries, and sponsors and the business community for their support in organizing Independence Day festivities which closed with the singing of the Indian national anthem.

The FIA leadership that made three-day activities possible included trustee chair Iftekhar Shareef, trustees Niranjan Shah, Babu Marsha Patel, Kanti S. Patel, Ajai Agnihotri, Anil Pillai, Satish Gabhawala, Ranjit Ganguly, Hetal Patel and Sitaram Patel, Sohan Joshi, Harish Bhatt, Sitaram Patel and Prahlad Patil (Dr. Bharat Barai). The members of the executive board Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Ravi Harsoor, Veenod Patel, Vandana Walia, Kalyan Andula Reddy, Minhaj Akhtar and Chris Christian also joined the parade line-up.

Other prominent community figures who marched in the parade included Dr. Ram Gajjela, Dr. Ashish Sen of the Indo-American Democratic Organization and Dr. Basanti Sen Banerji, president of Indo-American Center.

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Bollywood actress Soha Ali Khan will serve as the Grand Marshall for FIA’s India Independence Day Parade on Saturday August 17. The Parade will have a kick-off from Devon Ave & Western Ave in Chicago.

Iftekhar Shareef said actress Soha Ali Khan is the daughter of Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, a former India cricket captain and actress Sharmila Tagore. Shareef also said that Soha’s dynamic brother and Bollywood’s superstar is no other than Saif Ali Khan.

Unveiling the plans, FIA’s President Hina Trivedi and Trustee Chair Iftekhar Shareef made a joint announcement to host an impressive India Independence Day function that will feature a grand parade, gala banquet and flag-hoisting ceremony from August 15 to 17.

To facilitate large participation from the public, the FIA has made parking arrangements in and around Devon Ave. FIA President Hina Trivedi said that invitations to the elected officials have been sent and FIA has actively enlisted the sponsorship support of many corporations, companies and business establishments. She said that FIA is making every effort to bring in the finest local talent and youth to dominate the events this year.

Iftekhar Shareef, Trustee Chairman, said a host of invited elected officials including Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Aldermen along with Bollywood star Soha Ali Khan will lead the colorful convoy of decorated floats in the grand parade filled with bands, dances, colorful costumes and reverberating music. The parade will showcase the rich diversity and cultural splendor of India with the confluence of various regions each making an attempt to capture the unique elements of India’s majestic heritage, tapestry and landscape.

Shareef said that the newly appointed Consul General of India Ambassador Dr Ausaf Sayeed will attend all the events. India’s Minister of State for Transportation and Highways Sarve Satyanarayana has also confirmed his presence for all the events.

Special Guest world silver medalist Mohtesham Ali Khan along with India’s Esa Misri will also be traveling from India and attending all the programs.

Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Executive Vice President detailed three major events to be hosted by FIA in commemoration of India’s Independence:

(1) Grand India Independence Day Parade will be held on Saturday, August 17 that will kick-off at 11:30 a.m. from the corner of Devon Ave. & Western Ave in Chicago;

(2) Gala Banquet & Reception on Friday, August 16 [6:30 p.m.] at India House Banquets in Schaumburg, Illinois and

(3) Indian Flag-Hoisting ceremony on the Daley Plaza in Chicago downtown on Thursday, August 15 at 11:45 am on the corner of Dearborn Street and Washington Street.

Iftekhar Shareef thanked Alderwomen Debra Silverstein and State Senator Ira Silverstein for relaxing the zonal parking timings on the side streets of Devon Ave which will help Attendees Park in the side streets of Devon Ave. He urged that all participants to be watchful of the signs and make sure to follow the parking rules on the side streets of Devon Ave.

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The US Immigration Reform Bill is expected to be passed within two months paving way for extension of legal status to undocumented immigrants. It will address the status of over 10 million undocumented immigrants, including 300,000 Indians living illegally in the US.

Iftekhar Shareef, Trustee-Chairman, Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago, the oldest and the largest Indian Organisation in America, who recently met President Barak Obama, said the Bill will be passed with the help of Republicans as Democrats presently did not have an absolute majority in the US Congress.

Bill to strengthen border security

The Bill also seeks to strengthen border security and bolster work programmes to facilitate the hiring of both high and low skilled workers, Mr. Shareef said. Once the legalisation is done, Indian immigrants will be able to contribute to the consumption of goods and services, pay more taxes to boost US businesses and thus raise domestic income, Mr. Shareef said.

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Federation of Indian Associations-Chicago [FIA] hosted a ‘kick-off’ event to formally announce a series of events in celebration of India’s Independence Day at a luncheon hosted on Sunday May 5, 2013 at Punjabi Dhaba Banquet Hall on Devon Ave. in Chicago.

Alderwoman Debra Silverstein [50th ward] joined by State Senator & Committeeman Ira Silverstein, Hina Trivedi, Iftekhar Shareef and a host of FIA Trustees joined together to light the lamp signaling the ‘kick-off’ that will set in movement the hosting of a series of grand-scale events in honor of India’s Independence which includes Grand India Independence Day Parade, Gala Banquet and Flag-hoisting ceremony in Chicago’s downtown.

In her remarks Alderwoman Debra Silverstein said “Indian Americans are an important part of the City’s 50th ward and I commend you for bringing such vibrant richness and diversity to the ward. Ald. Debra Silverstein further added that Indian Americans have helped to bring flourishing business establishments on Devon Ave and pledged that she will work with the community to foster growth and development of adding more businesses in the sprawling India Town in her ward. Ald. Debra Silverstein thanked the kids for presenting beautiful dance presentations and said steering children in such traditions will help build healthy communities.

State Senator and Committeemen Ira Silverstein echoing the sentiments commended FIA for hosting events that highlight the spirit of Indian Independence. Ira Silverstein appreciated FIA for inviting him and said he is proud to represent the Indian American community.

FIA President Hina Trivedi speaking on the occasion thanked the executive board and trustees for their collective efforts in making FIA a vibrant umbrella community organization. Hina Trivedi paid tributes to the spirit of volunteerism that is the hallmark of FIA and thanked FIA for its deep-rooted commitment to the community.

Iftekhar Shareef, FIA Trustee Chair who presided the event, thanked the host of trustees and board members for their unstinted support. While conducting the event, Iftekhar Shareef gave historical information about FIA and its steadfast growth. To show FIA’s appreciation for chief guests, Iftekhar Shareef invited Hina Trivedi to honor Ald. Debra Silverstein with a colorful shawl; while he invited Vandana Walia, FIA Secretary to put a golden shawl on State Senator Ira Silverstein amidst applause.

Later, Iftekhar Shareef declared the three major events to be hosted in honor of India’s Independence: (1) India Independence Day Parade — Saturday, August 17, 2013; (2)India Independence Day Gala Banquet– Friday August 16, 2013; (3) Indian Flag-Hoisting — Thursday, August 15, 2013 I downtown Chicago. Later, Iftekhar Shareef recognized the 2013 executive board comprising of Keerthi Ravoori, Executive Vice President, Ravi Harsoor, Vice President, Veenod Patel, Vice President, Amar Upadhya, Vice President, Vandana Walia, Secretary, Minhaj Akhtar Treasurer, Kalyan Anandula Reddy, Joint Treasurer and Chris Christian, Joint Secretary.

Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, FIA’s Executive Vice President earlier welcomed the guests and led the opening festivities. Keerthi Ravoori reminded the guests of the rich historical traditions of FIA in hosting ceremonious kick-off events to herald the hosting of major events honoring India’s Independence.

Young children in colorful costumes presented three beautiful folk dances which depicted the traditions and rich culture of some of the Indian states.

Babu [Marsha] Patel, FIA Trustee – in his remarks – was critical of Chinese incursions over the territorial integrity of India and lamented on the prevailing land & order problems and economic outlook projections.

Vandana Walia, FIA Secretary proposed a vote of thanks and especially thanked the Media and acknowledged Ankur Chaudari for spearheading new website for FIA and Harish Kolasani for providing valuable assistance in hosting the kick-off program.

Among the prominent attendees include Dr. Asish Sen, President Indo American Democratic Organization, Dr. Basanti Bannerji, President,Indo American Center and Chandresh Brahmbhatt AAHOA’s Upper Midwest Regional Director. Some of the FIA Trustees present were Babu Marsha Patel, Anil Pillai, Bhailal Patel, Prahlad Patil, and Ranjit Ganguly. The event concluded with lunch hosted by FIA.

Ms. Lavanyalatha Jonnalagadda is a dancer, choreographer and performer and is well recognized in ChicagoLand (United States of America) as the foremost proponent of Kuchipudi a traditional classical dance from the southern Indian state of Andhara Pradesh. Ms. Lavanya is a disciple of Sri. Chinta Adinarayan Sarma one of famous proponents of Kuchipudi Dance.

With her passion and competitive nature, Lavanya has won several awards including the Gold Medal at ‘1987-YMCA All India Competitions in Music & Dance’. She also gained the title “Natya Rani” from Kala Jyoti Organization, Rajuamundry. She was also recognized at Silicon Andhra event held in Hyderabad during December 2012 in memory of Sri. Vempati China Satyam as one of the selected 40 Dance Instructors of Kuchipudi. Silicon Andra event was recognized by Guinness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of Kuchipudi Dancers in the world. She has been passing on her knowledge, skill and passion for dance to the next generation since migrating to USA and is located in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Lavanya’s disciples, Lakshmi Nanduri, Amulya Vundru, Sahithi Muppala, Sreeja Matukumalli, Pranathi Karumanchi, Vishnavi Jonnalagadda, Vishali Ambula and Pranatih Bollineni have gained praise of audience at the Federation of Indian Association’s 2013-Independence Day kick-off ceremony held at North Shore Banquet Hall, Chicago on 5th May 2013, entertaining and showcasing the rich culture of India with three distinct performances. First performance was a Kuchipudi Classical called ‘Jai Jai Padmavathi’ depicting how Lord Vishnu saves Gajendra that is famously known as Gajendra Mokshma in Hindu Mythology. Second performance was a Lambadi Dance depicting the way Banjarans express the happiness and praise for their companions. The third performance was a South Indian Folk Dance called ‘Neeli Neeli Kondameeda’ performed by a team of 9 year olds. It was a pleasure and amazement to see the passion, energy and immersion shown by the young participants of these three performances, who proudly stated that despite their busy school work and having to maintain high grades, they love to learn and performing classical arts.

Same performers have also recently won 1st place in three categories in ‘2013 Dhimtana & TV9 TANA Dance Competitions’ held in Chicago during April and have been selected to perform in the nationwide event going to be held by TANA & Dhimtana Organizations in Dallas this month. Parents of the performers said, despite their busy schedules and other responsibilities, they are very pleased by the passion and interest their kids have developed in learning and performing classical dances and that their enthusiasm has been motivating them to further encourage their kids and accommodate various programs in their day to day schedules.

Same performers have also recently won 1st place in three categories in ‘2013 Dhimtana & TV9 TANA Dance Competitions’ held in Chicago during April and have been selected to perform in the nationwide event going to be held by TANA & Dhimtana Organizations in Dallas this month. Parents of the performers said, despite their busy schedules and other responsibilities, they are very pleased by the passion and interest their kids have developed in learning and performing classical dances and that their enthusiasm has been motivating them to further encourage their kids and accommodate various programs in their day to day schedules.

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