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Indo-American Cultural Association of Southern California ‘IACA’ Formed


Los Angeles, Dec. 17, 2009
Dilip Butani

Catering to the need of an exclusive Cultural Organization, the Indo-American leaders, from various Major Organizations, met at the Rasraj Restaurant, Artesia and formed Indo-American Cultural Association of Southern California. Surinder Bhogal was elected as the Chairman and Atul Gandhi as the President. The Association will have Ravinder Verma and Balwinder Garcha as the Executive Vice Presidents, Harjit Bhogal and Nitai Pathak as the Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Avadhesh Agarwal will be chairman of the Board of trustees while Dilip Butani will be chairman of the advisory board. Following is the Executive Board.

1. Surinder Bhogal(Chairman) 2. Atul Gandhi (President)
3. Ravinder Verma (Executive Vice President) 4. Balwinder Garcha (Executive Vice President)
5. Harjeet Bhogal (Secretary) 6. Nitai Pathak (Treasurer)
7. Ramesh Ramnani (VP Planning) 8. Amrick Singh (VP Information Technology)
9. Vandana Ranjan (VP Cultural) 10. Ajay Khetani (VP Cultural)
11. Senjal Patel (VP Public Relations) 12. Paul Gotra (VP Public Relations)
13. Raj Chellani (VP Special Events) 14. Ketan Pandya (VP Special Events)
15. T J Singh (VP Special Events) 16. P.K. Nayak (VP Community)
17. Venkat Alla (VP Community) 18. Ritu Chopra (VP Youth)

Board of Trustees
1. Avadhesh Agrawal (Chairman) 2. Moti Kapur (Member)
3. Dr.Vishal Luthra (Member) 4. Dr.Jitendra Goel (Member)

Advisory Board
1. Dilip Butani (Chairman) 2. Amrit Bandari (Member)
3. Ravji Bhai Patel (Member)

Festivals in India are characterized by color, gaiety and enthusiasm. The word festival means feast day or festive celebration. The Organization aims to celebrate different Indian Festivals with the same richness as seen in India.

The first celebration would be held on January 23rd, 2010, when three festivals viz. Uttarayan, Pongal and Lohri will be celebrated with gaiety and colors along with the Indian Republic Day. The kite flying will start at 3 PM and will go on for about 2-3 hours. There will be rangolis and traditional revris for Lohri. This will be followed by a wonderful cultural program with colorful dances covering different states of India. Thus, for the first time in Southern California, Kite Flying (Uttrayan), Pongal, Lohri, and Republic day will be celebrated together.

Uttarayan, also known as Makar Sakranti in other parts of India, is the day when the sun starts to travel northwards marking the decline of winter. The days become longer, the skies clearer and the breeze cooler. A feeling of anticipation, joy and jubilation grips all who celebrate the occasion of thanksgiving and merry-making. In Gujarat, Uttarayan is a holiday when every family can be met outdoors. People of all ages fly kites from dawn to dusk. Crowded rooftops, fun-loving rivalry to outdo each other in kite flying skills and delicious traditional Gujarati feast are the hallmarks of the day.

Lohri marks the culmination of winter, and is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti. For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival; it is in fact an example of a way of life. Lohri celebrates fertility and the spark of life. People gather round the bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing popular songs and exchange greetings. Lohri is more of a community festival as people gather around the bonfires and offer sweets, crisp rice and popcorn to the flames. The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. The traditional dinner with makki di roti and sarson da saag is quintessential. The prasad comprises of five main things: til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya and popcorn. There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolizes a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.

Pongal is another important festival in India, and we pray to the Sun God to help in the growth of the paddy and other plantations. This festival is very important for farmers and so it is celebrated in a grand manner in villages. The house is cleaned, and all maintenance jobs are done before this festival. During the four-day festival, different varieties of Rangoli are drawn in front of the houses early in the morning.

Republic Day, celebrated on January 26th is one of India’s most important national events. It was on January 26th, 1950 that the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly Sovereign, Democratic and Republic state. On this day -India finally enjoyed the freedom of spirit, rule of law and fundamental principle of governance. The patriotic fervor of the Indian people on this day brings the whole country together even in her embedded diversity. Republic Day is a people’s day in a variety of ways: It’s when regional identity takes a backseat and what matters most is the universal appeal of unity and brotherhood projected by all Indians.

This organization aims to be away from politics and concentrate on culture and festival celebrations.