South Asian Community Outreach (SACO’S) Interfaith Holiday Celebration focuses on Unity

Kajol Bishnoi
South Asian Community Outreach (SACO) has a tradition of forging strong relations between the growing South Asian community and the community at large. And the organization’s recent interfaith holiday celebration on December 19th, honored the multicultural values that make United States a great nation. Founder of the organization, Sam Khan, said , “We were proud to have representatives from Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jain faiths. At the same time we have also honored several individuals and organizations who shared the vision of SACO to foster unity within the community.

Ultimately, we hope the efforts of SACO will promote greater understanding of multiple cultures and religions that form the mosaic of our society. Earlier this year SACO took the initiative to organize its own Independence Day program, the first one by South Asians, along with the Annual 9/11 vigil.”

“The purpose of this Interfaith Holiday party is for our community to come together to honor those who share our values of community service and are working for the good of humanity”, said Sam. U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., 6th District, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula D-17th District, and township Chaplain Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg were among those honored. Chivukula received the Leadership and Service Award because he holds the distinction of being the first-ever South Asian to serve in the State legislature.

Pallone received the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award for his work within the South Asian community since 1988. “I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for bestowing upon me the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award,” Pallone said in a statement.

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“I am humbled to be the recipient of such an honor.” Spiritual leader of townshipbased Congregation Beth El, Rosenberg was honored for services in raising awareness about the Holocaust, genocide and racism. Other honorees included the local branch of the NAACP, which received the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Award, and the Kiwanis Club of Edison, which took home the Service Impact Award. Tom Lankey, New Edison Mayor, was also honored at the Event. Community Service Awards went to Art Speaks for Autism, which raises funds and awareness to combat autism and support families affected by it.

Lions Club. (L to R): Sam Khan, Mahesh Chitnis, Raj Mukherji,
Narayan Sreeniwas, Kajol Bishnoi

TV Asia, the first South Asian television channel in North America, Sudhir Parikh, a renowned local medical practitioner and publisher of newspapers, Sharanjit Singh Thind, Nassau County Commissioner of Human Rights, Atma Singh & Satish Poondi, community leaders Mahesh Chitnis (DVG of Edison Visionary Lions Club) , Mukul Bishnoi (CEO & Founder of Rudraksham International) , Nilesh Dasondi of Sterling System, and Sneh & Satish Mehtani of Moghul Group were also honored..

Jewel of India Fashion show by Juhi Jagiasi

Participating dignitaries included Assemblywoman-elect Nancy Pinkin, D-18th District, Assemblyman-elect Raj Mukherji, D-33rd District, Edison Mayor Antonia Ricigliano, Franklin Mayor Brian Levine and state Senator-elect Peter Barnes, D-18th District. Event highlights included “Jewel of India Fashion show” by Juhi Jagiasi and the musical performance of Saregama Champs Ali Sher and Asad Abbas. Nearly all-major religions were represented and more the 500 attendees took part in the celebration. SACO Announced the First South Asian Peace Conference 2014, which will be held in the United Nations Building. Delegations from South Asian communities will be attending the conference. The mission of the conference is to bring unity among South Asian Americans living in the United States and promote the idea of peace and sharing of culture and heritage.

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