Eye-Catching ICC I-Fest Program Captivates the Houston Audience

By Jawahar Malhotra

India Culture Center board members join political dignitaries on stage at the I-Fest program. The dignitaries included Consul General Aseem Mahajan and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Photos by Navin Mediwala.

STAFFORD: Last year when the India Culture Center held the celebration of India’s Independence Day, they turned the hall on it’s head quite literally by shifting the stage and the settings 90 degrees. The stage was set right across the front entrance doors for a better visual effect and everything else followed suit making the hall more crowded and forcing people to rub shoulder-to-shoulder.

How could they do any better, one wondered? This year, on Sunday, August 21, when the ICC celebrated the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence, and dubbed it “Glorious India”, they really rose to the challenge by adding pizzaz to the setting, thanks to the creative minds at Deco Art with lighting by DJ BJ Josan.

Event Chair Jasmeeta Singh (Center standing) with dignitaries.

By the driveway outside, there was a colonnaded entrance with a red carpet where the chief guests were met and escorted in. There were dozens of colorful decorations scattered across the lobby at the Stafford Civic Centre on Cash Road. And the round tables for diners to eat food served by two vendors had colorful linens and center pieces, making it feel like a dinner club.

The stage was likewise made up with curtains, good lighting and brilliant backdrops reflecting the geographic region of the dancers who came to perform. Just in front of them, two rows of VIPs sat at white linen draped long tables. Behind them were rows of general seating and the nearly 50 vendors booths lined the outside walls of the hall.

The credit goes to the ICC team led by President Malla Mekala and Event Chair Jasmeeta Singh who brought her skills from her fashion show business and classical Indian dance to pull together an engrossing program that lasted till 7pm. “We are excited to welcome you to this entertaining event that will remind you of India’s abundant cultural heritage”, said Singh in her opening remarks. ”Under the banner of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” (proclaimed by the Indian government), this year’s Independence Day is truly special in a number of ways”. The performances reflected the cultural diversity of East, West, North and South regions of India.

There were performances by 17 different groups, all colorfully coordinated with a giant  digital backdrop from the region they represented. Chief guests Consul General Aseem Mahajan, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Ft Bend County Judge KP George all addressed the audience. Other VIPS were the mayors of Stafford and Missouri City, as well as messages from the offices of Congress Representatives Al Green and Shiela Jackson Lee.

A special segment showcased the recipients of the ICC Scholarships: a $5,000 BOSS award for Dimple Amitha Garuadapuri, a $1,000 from Malla Mekala for Mahek Dodani, a $1,000 award from Parul Fernandes for Sanjana Ranjan Jain and a $1,000 award from Swapan Dhairyawan, Charlie Patel and Ajit Patel for Mansi Patel.

Another segment passed out several ICC Awards: Lifetime Achievement Awards to Girish Pandey and Swapan Dhariyawan; Volunteer Award Hemant Kumar Patel, Rising Star Award to Tarush Anand and two special awards – Best Partnering Organization Award to Gujarati Samaj of Houston and ICC Recognition for Cheating COVID to Mansi Gokhale

This massive and enjoyable program could not have been made possible without the financial support of Grand sponsors Four Oaks insurance, Seltis and Infodat;.

Legacy sponsors Discount Power, Medinet Clinic, Mahesh Wadhwa, Collision Plus, Jaz Creationz, FS Group, IMAGH, Sita Ram Foundation and Wallis Bank and Underwriter MD Associates.