Chicago IL: A glittering evening of dazzling dance presentations, stirring melodious carols, and uplifting yuletide sermons marked the Grand Christmas Banquet Celebrations, organized by United Christian Cultural Association [UCCA] at the Bristol Palace in Mount Prospects, Illinois.
The celebrations received a big boost by the presence of Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India, as the Chief Guest, and Brother Anil Kumar, a renowned International Speaker from India. A host of community and business leaders, representing all major faiths, and a large gathering of families and children converged to celebrate the grand festive season of Christmas, replete with music, songs, dances, worship, and dinner.
The celebrations kick started with the lighting of the Christmas Candles by Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Anil Kumar, Iftekhar Shareef, Ravi Achanta, and Harish Kolasani. Teresa Neetipudi’s opened the evening with a graceful classical invocation dance showcasing the welcome. This was followed by a colorful fusion dance presented by Kala Dance Academy group, artfully choreographed by Ruth Varghese, entitled ‘Silent Night”, illustrating the joy of Christmas with interludes of the beautiful strains of Christmas carols sung to further elevate the festive merriment.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed paid rich accolades to the Chicago Christian community for its extraordinary contributions in India, especially in the fields of education, healthcare, charity, social empowerment, emancipation of women, and participation in public life He stated that Christianity has profoundly helped strengthen the social fabric in India.
Dr. Sayeed presented scholarly historical overview on Christianity and said that it was ushered in India in 52 AD, lot earlier than it reached Europe, and added that Jesus Christ is revered by all communities. Dr. Ausaf Sayeed complimented UCCA leadership for attracting a large gathering.
The keynote speaker Anil Kumar took to the stage and eloquently presented the central theme of Christmas message of salvation to all mankind through the birth of Jesus Christ. His message was interspersed with high-energy singing which led to the spontaneous break out of joyful dance from the floor. In his strident tone, Anil Kumar challenged the families to investigate the meaning of Christmas which, he emphasized, is all about God’s boundless love for humanity and added that steadfast, enduring, and selfless love of God alone defines the central tenant of Christmas.
Anil Kumar emphasized that the spirit of Christmas manifests hope, love, peace, and joy and said that he is in Chicago to glorify Lord Jesus Christ. He narrated instances of his life-transforming experiences which, he said, led him to Christian faith. He urged the audience to introspect on their lives and make time for God and drew huge applause when he quoted a passage from the Bible, “God gives us power and we should rejoice in God”.
Raju Enoch Pasumarthi, UCCA President thanked the eminent guests and gathering of the families for gracing the event and succinctly laid out the road map for future UCCA programs and initiatives. Vasanth Charles, UCCA Director unveiled a series of new exciting programs for 2016, including Cricket Tournament.
The Christmas greetings were offered by FIA Trustee Iftekhar Shareef, Ravi Achanta NATS President, Harish Kolasani, and Dr. Ragu Dhir. Community Service Recognition Awards were presented by Anil Kumar to Mrs. Subhadra Vipparthi, Mrs. Persis Dadepogu, Mrs. Satya Sudhakar, Mrs. Suguna Vallabhdas, and Mrs. Mamta Katari. Dr. Nandan Thogaru, who introduced the recipients of the Awards, said that these ladies inspired spiritual journeys.
The carols were sung by Mohit, Sheetal, Komal Panchal, Prince, Joyce, Lucky Karri, and Sparjan Kote, with musical accompaniments provided by Martin Damara, Johnson Kodipally, and Vijay Bhaskar Munagala. Satish Dadepogu welcomed the guests, Shirley Kalvakota conducted the candle lighting ceremony and the singing segment, and Pravin Neetipudi spelled out the mission and vision of the UCCA.
Earlier, Keerthi Kumar Ravoori introduced Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, which was followed by presentation of a silk shawl and flower bouquets by women leaders, Shirley Kalvakota, Sunita Christina, Margaret Sanyogita Charles, and Dr. Sudha Nittala. Chicago pastors Rev. Samuel Vallabhdas, Rev. Dr. David Vidyasagar, Rev. Solomon Sudhakar, Pastor Subhadra Vipparthi, Rev. Victor Omega, Rev. Shadrach Katari, Rev. Thomas Polepaka, Rev. Samson Purohit, Rev. Paul Gorre, and Marcus Konda laid hands and blessed Anil Kumar, followed by UCCA leaders joining together to present a shawl in collective appreciation of Anil Kumar.
The evening celebrations concluded with entire hall luminous in shimmering candle lights held by each guest while singing “Silent Night”, a traditional Christmas carol, which was followed by the serving of the festive dinner. Emmanuel Neela, UCCA Vice President conducted the proceedings of the program with a professional touch.