CHICAGO: The India Day Parade on Sunday August 20 on Devon Avenue and the next day Banquet at Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows , both part of India Day celebrations by the Federation of Indian Associations headed by Minhaj Akhtar, turned out to be a dismal affair not worth remembering.
It was a big let down to the community as the much trumpeted Babul Supriyo, an Indian Minister and an acclaimed artist in his own right as well as Bollywood famed Harshita Bhatt did not come and so also many a community elite and dignitaries.
The only saving grace , if at all one can pinpoint, was an assurance by one of the honored guests, Dr Deepkant Vyas that he would help erecting Mahatma Gandhi statue on Gandhi Marg on Devon Avenue on space availability.
The crowd was thinnest and the best estimate would put it not more than 500 which usually would range anywhere from 3000 to 7000. FIA President Minhaj Akhtar however put it at “thousands.” The number of floats were barely 16 and many waded by without anybody manning it. Minhaj put the number much higher over 25 while Kanti Patel, a Trustee placed it at 18. The floats covering a near one mile route was a lusterless affair with hardly count-on-the-fingers crowd to cheer them
Another saving grace was the presence of 80 years old Mohan Master who clad in Gandhi cap and traditional Indian dress, Kurta and Pyjama urging everyone to shout Bharat Mata Ki Jai. On the podium were the Parade Chair Smita Shah, Co- Chair Syed Hussaini, Dr. Bharat Barai, Congressional candidate Raja Krishnamurthi, Bhailal Patel, Kanti Patel, Sohan Joshi, Sitaram Patel, Iftekhar Shareef, Hina Trivedi, Keerthi Ravoori, Dorothy Brown and Jan Schakowaski. They greeted Indians and gave them good wishes on the 70th Indian Independence Day.
The banquet in the evening of August 21 was also a big let down. Hardly 200 attendees came to the Meadows club while the expectation was about 400. Minhaj said there were 325 members, guests and invitees present. It was here that Dr Vyas followed up a suggestion for erecting a Mahatma Statue on Gandhi Marg – Devon Avenue. Cultural program was good and local artists acquitted themselves well.
Jayanti Oza & Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service