Record cold temperatures failed to keep away attendees to the Federation of India Associations NY, NJ & CT (FIA) celebration of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, held here at the Consulate General of India, on Sunday, January 7.
Occurring since 2003 to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s homecoming to India from South Africa during World War I, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is held annually “to strengthen the engagement of overseas Indian community with the government, reconnect with their roots and celebrate their achievements and contributions to the development of India.”
PBD povides a platform on which the overseas Indian community can engage, for mutual benefit, with the government and people of the land of their ancestors, the PBD website says.
Jennifer Rajkumar, the Drector of Immigration Affairs & Special Counsel for the New York Department of State, while addressing the gathering at the Consulate General of India, urged ed more Indian-Americans to engage in politics. Stressing the importance of emerging as an influential political voice, Rajkumar reminded the audience, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”
Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) president Srujal Parikh kicked off the celebration with a welcome address, followed by lamp lighting. Consul for Community Affairs K. Devadasan Nair spoke on behalf of Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty who was unable to attend after inclement weather cancelled his flight.
Giving a brief history of the PBD, Nair highlighted important aspects of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda like encouraging youth involvement and changing the “brain drain to brain gain.”
Dance entertainment highlighted the PBD, starting with students from Rimli Roy’s Surati for Performing Arts under the direction of Vidhya Dinesh, who performed Ganesh Vandana. Company dancer Imani Gaston also performed Shiva Tandav, a traditional Odissi classical dance piece.