From Asian Media USA
CHICAGO: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Bollywood actress Soha Ali Khan and many other dignitaries joined the India Independence parade organized by the Chicago chapter of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) here on Saturday.
Crowds of people filled Mahatma Gandhi, the route of the parade, as FIA-Chicago President Hina Trivedi, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Indian Consul General Ausaf Sayeed and his wife Farah Sayeed, parade grand marshall and actress Soha Ali Khan, trustee chairman Iftekhar Shareef and others led the colorful parade after flag-hoisting and the singing of the Indian national anthem.
A Scottish Pipe Band and a large number of women and children carrying the Indian flag walked ahead of the Governor and other dignitaries, including former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, County Clerk David Orr, Niranjan Shah and Smita Shah who is the executive director of the Delhi-Chicago Sister City Relations Committee.
The parade included 27 colorfully decked floats. As the parade with these floats snaked through the heart of India Town, enthusiastic crowds on both sides cheered each float depicting unique cultural, social and regional identity of India.
Governor Pat Quinn enthusiastically waved to crowds and actress Soha Ali Khan shook hands with people.
The drum-beats of Malayalee groups represented by Indian National Congress floats enthralled the audience, while Bengali songs filled the air with sublime music.
Jesse White’s Tumbler Team took the pride of place with its breath-taking acrobatic jumps providing a grand finale to the colorful India Independence Day parade.
Soha Ali Khan said, “I am excited and honored to be here in Chicago and celebrate with you this grand Indian Independence Day.’’
She added that India is certainly not a geographical entity defined just by its physical borders, but it is really a community of people with shared values.
Soha Ali Khan thanked FIA-Chicago leaders,including trustee chairman Iftekhar Shareef and executive director Syed Sabahat Jamal, for inviting her to Chicago.
Indian Consul General Dr. Ausaf Sayeed offered greetings to the Indian diaspora on behalf of the government of India and said that Chicago has always been very close to his heart as he had visited this city before. He praised the warmth and vibrancy of the Chicago Indian community and lauded FIA-Chicago for its work.
The Consul General presented mementos to visiting bodybuilding champions from India Mir Mohthesham Ali Khan and Esa Misri.
FIA President Hina Trivedi thanked the dignitaries, and sponsors and the business community for their support in organizing Independence Day festivities which closed with the singing of the Indian national anthem.
The FIA leadership that made three-day activities possible included trustee chair Iftekhar Shareef, trustees Niranjan Shah, Babu Marsha Patel, Kanti S. Patel, Ajai Agnihotri, Anil Pillai, Satish Gabhawala, Ranjit Ganguly, Hetal Patel and Sitaram Patel, Sohan Joshi, Harish Bhatt, Sitaram Patel and Prahlad Patil (Dr. Bharat Barai). The members of the executive board Keerthi Kumar Ravoori, Ravi Harsoor, Veenod Patel, Vandana Walia, Kalyan Andula Reddy, Minhaj Akhtar and Chris Christian also joined the parade line-up.
Other prominent community figures who marched in the parade included Dr. Ram Gajjela, Dr. Ashish Sen of the Indo-American Democratic Organization and Dr. Basanti Sen Banerji, president of Indo-American Center.