LONG ISLAND, NY (TIP): The Coalition of Indian Organizations of Long Island celebrated the 69th Republic Day of India on January 31, attended by the Consul General of India in New York, Ambassador Sandeep Chakravorty, judges of NY Supreme Court, public officials at the local and state level as well as who’s who of the Indian community on the island.
The rare event bringing fourteen Indian organizations of Long Island under one umbrella along with the largest gathering of the American dignitaries was the brainchild of Varinder Bhalla, Chairman of the Indian American Voters Forum, and the culmination of inspiration and support by Ambassador Chakravorty. The community responded enthusiastically packing the Clinton G Martin Hall in New Hyde Park to capacity.
The participants were the Association of Indians in America represented by its national President Dr. Urmilesh Arya, and its NY Chapter represented by its President Gobind Munjal; the Arya Samaj of Long Island represented by its Founder Veer Mukhi; Asa Mai Temple represented by Founder Gobind Bathija; Brahmakumaris of Long Island represented by Anjani Persaud; the Federation of Malayalee Associations represented by its Chairman Thomas Oommen; the Gujrati Samaj of New York represented by its President Minesh Patel; Indian American Physicians of Long Island represented by Dr. Rakesh Dua & Dr. Ajay Lodha; the India Association of Long Island represented by its President Gunjan Rastogi; the Indian American Voters Forum represented its Chairman & the event coordinator Varinder Bhalla; International Punjabi Society represented by President Dr. Rajinder Uppal; Rajasthan Association of North America represented by President Dr. Ajey Jain; SPARK Youth Club of New York represented by its Founder Dr. Himanshu Pandya; the World Spiritual Awareness Forum Inc. represented by Rakesh Bhargava and the World Malayalee Association represented by its President Koshy Oommen.
New York Supreme Court Justices Denise Sher & Ruth Balkin represented the judiciary; NY Senator Elaine Phillips presented a Senate Proclamation to Ambassador Chakravorty; Nassau County was represented by its Legislature Majority Leader Rich Nicolello and Legislator Tom McKevitt. Also in attendance was Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman who was profusely applauded for including a Hindu prayer in his inaugural program earlier in the month.
Hempstead Township, larger than seven States of America, was represented by its Town Clerk Sylvia Cabana and Supervisor Laura Gillen, the first Democrat in over a century elected to that post. On January 26, Gillen hoisted the Indian tricolor flag atop the Town Hall.
Gillen also presented a Citation to Ambassador Chakravorty honoring the 68th anniversary of the India Republic Day. Another Republic Day Citation was presented to the Ambassador on behalf of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino.
Niketa Bhatia, who successfully petitioned the Syosset School District to have the Festival of Diwali designated as an official holiday was honored with a Citation from the Oyster Bay Township.
The highlight of the cultural segment was a performance by the artists of the Surati for Performing Arts, nationally acclaimed group which has performed at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and the United Nations among others. The Indian kids in the tricolor dresses enthralled the Indian audience and the American dignitaries alike. Manav Khurana, 13, a self-taught dholak player at the age of 8, captivated the audience with his stellar performance.
The pageantry of the Republic Day event was enhanced by bagpipers of Nassau County Firefighters Band which had earlier played at the Trump Presidential Inaugural in Washington DC and in Europe on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.