The Indian American Cultural Center hosts Ninth Annual Gala Fundraiser

Merrillville, IN: The Indian American Cultural Center of Merrillville, Indiana held its Ninth Annual Gala Fundraiser on Saturday, March 5, 2011 on a grand scale with nearly 700 Hoosiers of Indian American community participating in the event. This grand occasion was reminiscent of the words of Swami Chinmayananda, who once said, “The success is not in the trophy won but in the race run.” The function raised about $150,000 for the various activities of the Center.

The Center is a proud achievement of the Indian community of Northwest Indiana, which, after five years of planning and hard work, opened the center in March 2002. The center is housed in a beautiful building on 14 acres of land and has become the hub of their many cultural and social activities.

The Indian American Cultural Center (IACC) of NWIHRC (Northwest Indiana Hindu Religious Center) is a non-profit organization that started nine years ago with a goal to build a Community Center in Northwest Indiana. The center opened on March 9, 2002. With the generous support of the community, the Center expanded the premises in June 2010 to include an expanded community hall and its crown jewel, The Bharatiya Temple of North West Indiana. The goal of the center is to foster peace and harmony amongst the people of Northwest Indiana by showcasing India’s cultural heritage and by creating spiritual awareness in our youth and adults as well as engage in various charitable events at local and national level.

Among the recipients of the proceeds in the past are Cancer Research, Educational Scholarships, Tsunami Relief, American Red Cross, victims of Hurricane Katrina, victims of the earthquake in Kashmir, India, Campagna Academy, Munster flood victims and Spring Valley Homeless Center in Valparaiso. This year the Center intends to donate the funds raised to The Carmelite Home for Girls located in East Chicago, Indiana. The event started with an invocation by Smt. Shakuntala Sarma, followed by Indian and American national anthems rendered respectively by Hima Sarma and Pradeep Gopal. Smt. Gayatri Iyer served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening.

In his welcome speech, Dr. Prakash Makam (Chairman) acknowledged the cultural diversity of United States where people from many ethnicities, religions and cultural backgrounds come together and work to make this country the great nation that it is. He proudly acknowledged the major role Indian Americans have played in their contribution towards that. Dr. Makam thanked the community for their generous support and participation in numerous charitable causes locally, nationally and globally. He said, “This year, we are pleased to donate part of the Gala proceeds to the Carmelite Home for Girls. We will also be donating to Haiti relief by contributing to Medical Doctors for Haiti relief mission.”

U.S. Congressman Honorable Pete Visclosky was the Guest of Honor. Mr. Donald Powers, President and CEO of Community Healthcare System, Methodist Hospitals and Pinnacle Hospital were honored with Life time achievement award. The theme of the cultural presentation was titled ‘Rhythmic Waves’, showcasing five different Indian dance forms. Like the Indian culture, Indian dance forms are equally diverse in nature and encompass numerous classical, semi-classical and folk dance forms. Through the centuries Indian dance forms have been used as a vehicle of worship and expression of emotions.

Cultural Program:

Chair: Padmini Makam
Concept by: Padmini Makam
Narrator: Gayatri Iyer
Narration & Writeup by: Gayatri Iyer
Co-ordinators: Kumar Kalluri, Lakshmi Arya, Veena Bhagwat, Adarsh Kumar and Priya Narayan
Rehearsal Coordinator: Soumita Bandhopadhyay

Classical Indian dances trace their roots to a book called the Naatya Shasthra which is believed to have been authored by the Sage Bharata between 400 BC and 200 BC. These dance forms have strict rules and protocols. They are regarded as a way of worship and meditation. A very important feature of Indian classical dances is the use of the Mudra or hand gestures to narrate a story and to demonstrate certain concepts such as objects, weather, nature and emotion.

The folk dances, on the other hand, are performed on festivals and special occasions, to express elation and joy. Every folk dance has its own unique costume and jewelry. The Indian folk dance is a creative work with artistic steps and postures being accompanied by the rhythmical movements of vocal or instrumental music. Being less complex in technique, it is governed by a broad set of rules which vary from dance to dance. It is not possible to discuss Indian dance without the mention of Bollywood Dance, a mainstay of Indian movies. It is a fusion of numerous dance styles including Indian and Western dance styles.

Revati and Rohini Kalluri performed Bharat Natyam, to kick off the entertainment program. This part of the program was coordinated by Kumar Kalluri. Bharatanatyam (pronounced BHARA-ta-NAT-yum) is a classical dance form now prevalent in southern India, known for its sophistication, subtlety and stylization and evolved over several centuries in the temples of South India, as a part of the daily worship ritual, This dance form is recognized for its mature rhythm and rich vocabulary of expressive gestures supported by crisp geometrical movements, sculpture-like poses and expressions. It is always accompanied by Carnatic music, the prevalent discipline of South India. They danced to the tune of ‘Chandra Chuda’ a musical composition in praise of Lord Shiva.

Next, Manasi Arya and Aishwarya Bandyopadhyay performed a Kathak dance item, coordinated by Lakshmi Arya and choreographed by Master Dilshad Khan. Kathak is a classical dance form of Northern India. The name Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word Katha meaning story. The technique of Kathak is characterized by fast rhythmic footwork set to complex time cycles. The footwork is matched by the accompanying percussion instruments. The dance movements include numerous pirouettes executed at a high speed and ending in statuesque poses. From the 16th century onwards this dance form absorbed certain features of Persian dance and Central Asian dance which were imported by the royal courts of the Mughal era.

The third part of this lively entertainment was Bhangra, titled PURDUE DI-SHAAN, performed by Adarsh Kumar, Smit Deliwala, Raghuveer Musty, Yugal Vaishnav, and coordinated by Adarsh Kumar. Bhangra is a lively and energetic folk dance that is usually performed while celebrating the annual harvest. It originated in Punjab region of pre-partitioned India. The dance is accompanied by a combination of various classical instruments such as the Dhol drum, along with traditional lyrics. By fusing with Western elements, such as hiphop and reggae, Bhangra has been dramatically transformed. It has become popular in many universities and discos around the United States with over 30 Bhangra competitions and more than 65 collegiate Bhangra teams. South Asian clubs and organizations in these universities form teams and hold annual Bhangra competitions in major US cities. Bhangra has spread its roots in the nation by the medium of such competitions, and is fast assimilating to be one of the most loved forms of dance in the nation.

The next item was called RAAS, performed by IU HOOSIERRAAS, performed by Rohan Bhagwat, Viraj Maniar, Sheev Dave, Nithin Reddy, Neelam Vachhani, Shivani Patel, Kavita Dedania and Sharon Thomas. Raas is the traditional folk dance form performed throughout India during the festival of Navaratri (nine nights) characterized by colorful costumes worn by the dancers. The dancers spin and move their feet and arms to the tune of the music and drum beats.

The last item was “Bollywood Dance”, coordinated by Priya Narayan. This is a fusion of Western and South Asian types of dance now popular. Bollywood, the movie film industry centered in Mumbai, is the largest film industry in the world, producing almost double the number of movies as Hollywood and selling a billion more tickets each year than Hollywood. Bollywood dance is an eclectic mix of all that is old and new, traditional and modern. The greatness of Indian culture lies in its ability to cherish and preserve traditional classic and folk dances while at the same time embrace new dance forms and styles.

All in all, the cultural program ‘Rhythmic Waves’ turned out to be a very lively and enjoyable event.

Smt. Amala Reddy, President of IACC, proposed a vote of thanks.

The sponsors of the 9th Annual Gala Dinner Program were Community Healthcare System, Community Hospital, Munster, Indiana, St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago, Indiana St. Mary Medical Center Hobart, Indiana The Methodist Hospitals Northlake, Midlake and Southlake Campuses. Pinnacle Hospital was a Platinum Sponsor. Silver Sponsors were Peoples Bank, Northwest Home Health Care Inc. and Primary Energy. Centerpieces were provided by McMahon & Associates, CPA, P.C., and table wine by Gaylord India Restaurant.

Northwest Indiana Hindu Religious Center Indian American Cultural Center Governing Body 2011:

Executive Board
Amala Reddy President
Suchita Shah Past President
Anjali Joshi President Elect
Veena Bhagwat Secretary
Vidya Arshanapalli Treasurer

Members At Large
Amitha Garlapati
Parimal Parikh
Bharti Shah
Niranjan Patel
Shenaz Keshvani

Board of Trustees
Prakash Makam Chairman
Om Mandhana Vice Chairman
Pratish PatelTreasure
Sarla Unni Panna Barai r Secretary Past Chairman

Members At Large
Ashwani Kumar
Sanjeev Kumar
Sandeep Sehgal
Ramesh Gaud
Suman Das Vijay Dave

Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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