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Over 5000 attend Aurora’s festival of lights

Over 5000 attend Aurora’s festival of lights
November 08
14:01 2018

Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board (IACOAB) chairman Gautam Bhatia, left and vice chairman Kunal Majmundar, right with Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, center, at the Diwali celebrations

Ashok Nair

AURORA: Over 5000 people attended the Diwali celebrations organized by the City of Aurora’s Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board (IACOAB) at the Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora on Sat November 3. Chairman Gautam Bhatia said “This is the largest attendance we have had in five years, thanks to the efforts of the entire board over the last three months”.

Among the dignitaries who attended were Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin

Indian Consul General Ms Neeta Bhushan addressing the gathering

, Alderman Rick Mervine, Alderman Judd Lofchie, Alderman Edward Bugg, Alderman Michael Saville, Alderman Sherman Jenkins, State Rep Stephanie Kifowit, State Senator Linda Holmes, Congressman Bill Foster, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Indian Consul General in Chicago Neeta Bhushan, Dr. Romi Chopra (MIMIT HealthCare) and Swetal Patel (Patel Brothers) who pledged $5000 to the Swami Vivekananda Scholarship Fund.

 

Grand sponsor Shwetal Patel with Aurora team members

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights celebrates the victory of good over evil, as symbolized by the triumph of the God Rama over the demon King Ravana.

 

For non-Indians the evening served as a fascinating introduction to traditional Indian music and dances with performances ranging from Ganesh Vandana to Koli dance, Garba and the more contemporary Bollywood fusion. Volunteers included several high school students who collaborated with IACOAB members in making the event a resounding success. The master of ceremonies for the event was Ajai Kumar. The evening concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

The IACOAB’s mission is to embrace, preserve and promote the heritage and contributions of Indian Americans while promoting civic engagement and encouraging Indian Americans to increase their involvement in Aurora’s growth.

Indians are the fasted growing immigrant community in Aurora, the second largest city in the state of Illinois.

Koli Dance at the event

 

In 2017 IACOAB established the Swami Vivekananda scholarship fund. Scholarships are awarded to college-bound high school seniors, who have demonstrated exemplary community service.In 2018 IACOAB awarded five scholarship of $1000 each.  In 2019, IACOAB will award ten $1000 scholarships, thanks in part to support of MIMIT HealthCare and Patel Brothers.

Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk introduced Hinduism to the West with a resounding speech at the first Parliament of World Religions, in Chicago in 1893.

Most recently, the IACOAB has organized an interactive Public Awareness and Civic Education discussion on depression and mental health problems among the young, in cooperation with Sanjeevani, (an organization which assists people with mental health and domestic violence issues).

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