Connecting over 25 millions NRIs worldwide
Most trusted Name in the NRI media
IALA: India Association of Los Angeles

Celebrating India’s 61st Independence Day in San Fernando Valley, California,
on Aug.16, 2008

Los Angeles, Aug. 16, 2008
Gary Singh/ Raman Chadha/Inder Singh

The Indian Association of Los Angeles held India Independence Day on Saturday August 16th, 2008 in Pierce College in Woodland Hills. This was a ninth annual event in the San Fernando Valley. It was a very successful event, attended by over 10,000 people. Activities included free health fair, cultural dance show, and food and vending booths. There were more than 80 booths of Indian food, Indian clothing, jewelry and many more. Kids were having fun on the 50-foot slides while parents were enjoying delicious Indian food. Cultural show lasted for 4 hours with amazing performances of different community artists.

U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman, LA County Sheriff Leroy D Baca, LA City Council Member Wendy Greuel, Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu and Mr Dubey representative of Consulate General of India attended the event. Congressman Brad Sherman presented IALA president with a US flag that flown over White House in Washington D.C. Inder Singh, co-founder of India Association of Los Angeles was honored by a Lifetime Achievement Award for is outstanding services to the Indian community.

IALA president Raman Chadha said that success of this event goes to all our hard working committee members and volunteers who made this evening possible. He also said that he would also like to thank our sponsors for their support, financial and otherwise, it would not have possible to weave together such a grand event. Some of the sponsors include Kumar Jawa of India Sweets & Spices, Jack Khangura, Gurdarshan Nat, Satish Tomar of Kumar Tax, TV Asia, Harbhajan Samra of Samra Produce, Paul Pallan of Talent International, Mr Bawa Multani, Dr Sanjeev Jain, Bob Virk of One Stop, Mukhtiar Kamboj, Mr Mohinder Johal, Mrs Satinder Johal & Mr Gurdarshan Singh & Mrs Amarjit Kaur, TV Asia, Malkit Singh & Iqbal Samra of India Sweets & Spices, Northridge & Raaga Restaurant, Dinesh Lakhanpal and Yogi Rajp.

Special Thanks to Ajay Gupta, Navdeep Singh, Nina Dhillon, Payal Pancholi, Payal Saxena, Rajesh Saini, Sati Singh, Simar Gulati, Sudeep Singla, Surinder Bhatia, Vandana Kumar, Yogi Rajp, FIA of Southern California Chairman Prakash Pancholi & President Dilip Butani and FIA of Los Angeles Chairman Amrit Bhandari & President Mohan Sharma

Happy Independence Day
Continuing a Tradition: Celebrating India’s Independence in San Fernando Valley

Click-->By Inder Singh

India Independence Day celebration in the San Fernando Valley was started on a grand scale in 2000. Since then, volunteers of the India Association have been organizing India Independence Day celebration every year. The dedication, hard work and commitment of these volunteers and support of some equally committed sponsors, have made the annual event a welcome tradition.

The population of Indian American community in the San Fernando Valley and the neighboring areas during the last thirty years has more than quadrupled. The Valley and the neighboring areas provide home to over 50,000 people of Indian Origin. The Valley has six temples, many Indian grocery stores, numerous restaurants, and other Indian American businesses serving the community. However, there was no non-religious event which could appeal to the entire community and bring them on one platform and under one flag.

In May 2000, Inder Singh and Kumar Jawa of India Sweets & Spices convened a meeting of some fellow Valley residents and formed Festival of India Committee for the celebration of India's Independence Day. The committee which spearheaded the first celebration, comprised of Inder Singh(Chair), Kumar Jawa, Krishna Iyer, Dinesh Lakhanpal, Maitrayee Ghosh, Harshi Gill and Poonam Sharma. Besides the executive committee, a band of dedicated and committed volunteers including committee chairs, Dr. Bama Sridhar, Gurdip S. Saran, Mohini Lata Kumar, the late Karamjit S. Grover, Rajesh P. Singh, Avtar Chadda, Mitra Sen Singhal, Rajesh Saini and over 25 co-chairs formed the working committee.

I have been working with the community for many years and have come to believe that an individual howsoever brilliant, intelligent, experienced and hardworking, would find it difficult, if not impossible, to match the collaborative efforts of a cohesive team. I was very fortunate to have found such a group of committed individuals in the Festival of India Committee. I was also lucky to get the cooperation, help and support of Dr. Parvin Syal, Dr. S. K. Mishra, and Kanaiya Mahendra, Valley residents and past presidents of the Federation of Indian American Associations, the apex body that has been organizing similar events in Southern California. All of them willingly became part of the committee and used their experience and expertise for the success of the event.

After visiting numerous possible sites for the celebration of India Independence Day, Pierce College, Woodland Hills was considered to offer the best facility. It could accommodate about seventy booths, over 10,000 people, had shade trees to sit under during daytime and a parking lot for over 2000 cars. The site, although part of the West Valley, was considered to be the best central place to attract the Indian American residents of San Fernando Valley, Ventura county(Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, etc), and West and North Los Angeles county. The committee decided to hold the celebration on August 19, 2000, in Pierce College.

The organization of an event of this magnitude requires leadership, dedication and commitment. I, fortunately, found many devoted volunteers who spent countless hours with me in planning and organizing the Festival. In fact, the enthusiasm of the committee members was beyond belief. Some of them gave preference to the festival related work over their business and family calling. After becoming confident of the human resource, we needed another major element for the success of the event, money. Here again, we found owners of two businesses, (thanks to Kumar Jawa and Amy Ghosh) and Prime Time Shuttle (thanks to Rajesh Pal Singh) who were very generous in their sponsorship. These two sponsorships were however not enough to cover the expenses of the event. So, many members of the committee, as a group visited prospective donors to raise funds for the celebration. Some committee members, Kumar Jawa, Dinesh Lakhanpal, Gurdip Saran, the late Karamjit S. Grover, Harbhajan Samara and Pradip Choksi were also generous with their own contributions. The enthusiasm, the hard work and the missionary zeal of the organizing team paid off when over 10,000 people came to attend the Valley’s very own celebration of India Independence Day.

The festival organizing committee wanted large attendance at their maiden attempt. Gurdip Saran volunteered to organize a publicity group and distributed thousands of flyers. All the three Indian Weekly newspapers, India West, India Journal and India Post carried full page advertisements for many weeks. India Journal even published a Valley Independence Day Supplement highlighting the Valley Indian American community and also highlighted the achievements of the first and then the only Indian American U.S. Congressman, late Dalip S. Saund of California. The Journal also pointed out that although Indian Americans have infiltrated virtually every field of business, profession and expertise, the time has come to share the bastion of political power. Indian Americans have to manifest their talent in the corridors of Capitol Hill by electing one or more of their own who can identify their Indian heritage.

The main theme for the organization of the festival was the celebration of India Independence Day. At the same time, we wanted to promote India’s culture and Valley’s Indian American businesses and also ensure that all the participants have the feeling of “Bharat Darshan”. Mohini Lata Kumar put together non stop cultural program showcasing India’s rich heritage of classical dances, the new wave of film song-and-dance and ever popular folk dances, such as Bhangra and Gidha. Some restaurant owners and a few individuals rented booths and delighted visitors with mouth watering dishes from all parts of India. Boutique shops demonstrated the latest design in women apparel and probably made a large volume of sales besides advertising their existence in the valley to thousands who stopped at their booth. Some other businesses, insurance and travel agencies, rented booths to put themselves in front of the prospective valley customers, a great way to advertise.

The Indian American community has a large number of highly qualified physicians. Dr. Shri Kant Mishra and Dr. Bama Siridhar representing the Tri-Valley medical Association brought volunteer physicians and nurses and organized a Health Fair and also conducted health seminars. Mrs. Deepi Singh offered her nutrition expertise for weight loss, cholesterol reduction and diabetes management using Indian foods.

The American elected officials and the media added to the respectability of the celebrations. The function was inaugurated by Mike Antonovich, LA County Supervisor, representing the North Valley. Coincidentally, Mike inaugurated the first India Independence Day celebration in 1981 at the County Civic Center Mall. American media, Los Angeles Times, Daily News and two major T.V. Networks covered the event. In the evening, Congressman Howard Berman addressed the large gathering. Standing next to the congressman on the stage and seeing thousands of people, the organizing committee members could hardly contain their happiness at the success of their effort.

The large number of Indian Americans who came to attend the Mela and the enthusiasm they displayed at the first such event in the Valley encouraged the organizers to plan additional similar functions. In January, 2001 India’s Republic Day was celebrated with a gala banquet.

In 2001, Mahesh Parekh headed the celebration committee while Anna Ghosh took over the responsibility in 2002. She had to move the event site from Pierce College to Cal State University campus in Northridge where Raman Chadha, a student leader played a pivotal role. Gurdip Saran successfully organized the event in 2003 while Surjit Bassi took the leadership role in 2004. The co-founder of the association, Kumar Jawa became president and made the event remarkably successful during the two years of his stewardship. In 2007, Nirmal Jain took the event back to Pierce College. This year, the event will again be organized in Pierce College under the dynamic leadership of Raman Chadha. He has been making every effort to motivate volunteers and sponsors for another memorable celebration of India’s Independence Day on August 16, 2008. While a few members from the original team, continue to provide experienced help, many new volunteers have taken over the key roles and have been working enthusiastically. Federation of Indian Associations has also joined hands to fully support the event.

The participation of the community in many activities that have been organized since the first celebration of India Independence Day in August, 2000 clearly demonstrates that the community continues to appreciate the efforts of volunteers of India Association of San Fernando Valley who willingly devote countless hours to organize the events and thus maintain the annual tradition. Looking back, I can say that the once sleeping San Fernando Valley has become a regional center for the Indian American community activities.

Inder Singh cofounded the India Association of Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley). He is currently President of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), an international body of NRIs/PIOs and chairman of Indian American Heritage Foundation which has been giving awards to high school graduates for the last 22 years. He was NFIA president from 1988-92 and chairman from 1992-96. He was founding president (1981-84) of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of Southern California. He can be reached by email at




Click below photos to see more than 50 photos

IALA founders: Inder Singh & Kumar Jawa.

IALA Past President: Inder Singh, Mahesh Parekh, Ana Ghosh, Gurdip Saran, Surjit Bassi, Kumar Jawa and Nirmal Jain

Board of Directors: Inder Singh, Kumar Jawa, Surjit Bassi, Gurdip Saran, Yogi Rajp, Rajesh Saini, Narinder Pallan, Jagdish Khangura, Pritam Singh and Gurdarshan Dhillon

IALA 2008 Executive Committee:
Chairman: Nirmal Jain
President: Raman Chadha
Executive Vice President: Bobby Kumar
Secretary: Virender Jain
Joint Secretary: Vineet Puri
Treasurer: Satish Tomar
V.P. Finance: Rakesh Thukral
VP Publicity: Nalini Natarajan
VP Cultural Affairs: Manjeet Wahi
VP Social Events: Hanif Nensey
VP Youth Affairs: Raja Annaswamy
VP Health: Bama Sridhar
VP Health: Deepi Singh
Executive Member: Vasdev Singh
Executive Member: Robin Paik
Executive Member: Poonam Sharma
Executive Member: Bhupinder Singh
Executive Member: Joseph Poulose