ST LOUIS: India Association of St. Louis organized the festivities to celebrate India’s 70th Independence Day with Community members coming together to hoist the American and Indian flags that flanked the bust of Mahatma Gandhi
They enthusiastically sang the anthems of both countries. The crowd moved indoors into the Mahatma Gandhi Center after a parade on the grounds. The Guests of Honor for the occasion were Missouri State Representative Bill Otto and Rahul Parikh. Otto spoke of US-India relations and the importance of mutual understanding and cooperation.
Parikh talked about the meaning of freedom, sacrifices of the freedom fighters and the enduring values of non-violence, tolerance, acceptance and truth. He also highlighted hallmark of India’s struggle for independence and the principles that were practiced by his great great grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi.
Following the singing of melodious patriotic songs, the Mela was opened to the celebratory beats of the dhol. Colorful stalls selling a variety of merchandise ranging from ethnic jewelry to traditional sarees and clothing to handmade gifts and mouth-watering food, filled the lower level of the center. On the upper level, children and adults participated in flower arrangement and art competitions.
There was a beautiful cultural program. Children and adults showcased their talents as they sang and danced to celebrate the spirit of the occasion. Over 350 people participated in the day’s festivities.
This was the fifth event organized by the India Association of St. Louis this year. Previous events included Republic Day celebrations, Spring Festival, hosting of Consul General Dr A. Sayeed for a community-wide meeting and the annual Visa Camp.
The 2016 Board Members of the association are: Mrs Meera Jain- President; Mrs. Shailee Saran Varanasi- President- Elect/Co-Cultural; Mr. Sendil Rathinasabhapathy – Secretary; Mrs Vijayalakshmi Buddhiraju – Treasurer/Co-Cultural; Mr Krishna Rao – Webmaster; Mr Sharath Rao – Publicity; Mr Vijay Buddhiraju – Membership; Mrs Gayatri Chintakunta – Director, Mrs Smita Parikh – Director.