Memorable Night: IAM's Connect India Evening Celebrates 50th Anniversary in Style

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The India Association of Minnesota (IAM) just turned 50 and we celebrated in style! On April 15, 2023, at the luxurious DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bloomington, we had a night filled with mouth-watering food, heart-pumping fun, and an electrifying atmosphere as we commemorated 50 years of remarkable history and vibrant culture. Ever since IAM was established in 1973, we have been devoted to bringing together people of Indian descent in Minnesota and creating a strong sense of community and identity. As an umbrella organization, we have connected Indians and Indian organizations across the state, and our 50th anniversary event was the perfect occasion to celebrate all the treasured memories we have made along the way. But we're not done yet! We're excited to keep our mission of promoting inclusivity and diversity going strong as we look towards the future.

Cheers to the Fun Hour!

The Welcome Reception kicked off the evening with a lively atmosphere, as guests mingled and made new connections while eagerly anticipating the exciting night ahead! Each attendee was greeted with a souvenir bag and drink coupons upon arrival, and savored the delicious appetizers that were served. As the mingling continued, the program for the night officially began.

Let's Get this Party Started: The Evening Begins

Our dynamic emcees, Jash and Aishani, took the stage and introduced IAM's President, Tanwi Prigge, who warmly welcomed Dipankar Mukherjee to the event. Dipankar is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Pangea World Theater, an international theater in Minneapolis that serves as a progressive space for arts and dialogue. Dipankar captivated the audience by reciting Amanda Gorman's inspiring poem, "New Day's Lyric," leaving everyone feeling uplifted and inspired.

President’s Inspiring Words

IAM's President, Tanwi Prigge, took the stage and extended a warm welcome to all the guests. She emphasized IAM's commitment to providing resources and support for the youth of Minnesota, starting with the launch of a new tutoring program this summer. This program will offer free academic assistance to students of all ages, enabling them to achieve their academic goals and reach their full potential. IAM is proud to partner with Seeds to Harvest to make this initiative a success.

In addition to the tutoring program, she reminded everyone that IAM also offers an exceptional internship program that provides students with invaluable work experience and opportunities to develop their skills while making meaningful contributions to the organization. IAM's various cultural and social events, such as India Fest, provide a platform for members to showcase their unique talents and cultural traditions, creating a sense of inclusion and belonging. IAM believes in promoting diversity and encourages the exchange of ideas and experiences, creating a vibrant and dynamic community that enriches the lives of all its members. Through culture, IAM celebrates and preserves its traditions, sharing them with the broader community. Through charity, IAM gives back to society through volunteerism and philanthropy, making a positive impact on the world around them.

The Night Unfolds

Following that, the Board and interns were introduced. The past Board, Presidents, and members of Trustee Advisory Council (TAC) were thanked for their contributions, after which the past President, Suyash Jain, was invited on stage. Suyash emphasized IAM's significance as an organization that connects and supports the Indian community, championing various causes that make a positive impact.

Enriching Experiences: Cultural Events and Guest Speakers

The occasion was a jubilant celebration of Indian culture, and the night was made even more exhilarating by the lively Bhangra performances from our friends at Bhangra Thrills. The electrifying Bhangra performance was followed by the thought-provoking presentation by Nirav Sheth, the Founder and President of Stratosphere, a coaching and consulting firm whose mission is to take individuals and businesses to new heights.. He presented two strategies to transform our lives:

  1. Empower our “higher” mind with mental fitness (Positive Intelligence) which is defined as your capacity to respond to life’s challenges with positive rather than negative mindset.

  2. Empower your soul by experiencing the power of meditation to reduce stress and alleviate stress-related illnesses, and discover a newfound strength within your soul.

The event proceeded with a captivating fashion show presented by Arquette Talents, showcasing the elegant models adorned in breathtaking attire by DilliHaart and Shantie Fashions.

Subsequently, the audience was enraptured by the spellbinding performance of Uthkalaa's Odissi dancers - a talented family trio of mother, son, and daughter.

As the delicious dinner was served, attendees were treated to a heartwarming video featuring insightful words of wisdom from IAM's esteemed past presidents.

Attendees were left feeling inspired and invigorated after hearing from Dr. Amit Patel, who spoke passionately about the importance of community and connection. As the co-founder and CEO of Murata Vios (formerly Vios Medical), Dr. Amit has spearheaded the development of an FDA-cleared patient monitoring automation platform that simplifies oversight of patients in both in-hospital and home environments. His innovative work has revolutionized the healthcare industry and highlights the positive impact that technology can have on patient care.

Recognizing Excellence: Celebrating Achievements Through Award Ceremonies

The awards ceremony shone a spotlight on the remarkable achievements of our exceptional partners and members. The Bengali Association of Minnesota took home the prestigious Best Activity Engagement Award at IndiaFest 2022, while the Oriya Society of Minnesota was honored with the Best Parade Ambassador Award, and the Minnesota Malayalee Association was recognized with the Best Exhibit Booth Award.

The ceremony also included the presentation of two highly anticipated Person of the Year awards. Sujata Dutta was recognized with the IAM Person of the Year 2023 award for her inspiring contributions to healthcare and patient empowerment, despite being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Her unwavering commitment to patient advocacy has earned her a nomination as Visionary of the Year by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Additionally, Suresh Krishna was honored with the IAM Person of the Year 2023 award for his remarkable achievements in Business Leadership and Community Engagement. As CEO of Northern Tool + Equipment, Suresh's exceptional leadership has resulted in record revenues, and he has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Global Indian of the Year 2022-23 from Asia One magazine. Suresh is also an active contributor to the community, having served on the Board of Directors of IAM and as a lifetime trustee of the Hindu Society of Minnesota.

Mark of Excellence: The Lifetime Achievement Award

Raghavan Iyer, a beloved Minnesota-Indian chef, was bestowed with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution in putting Indian cooking on the US culinary map. With a specialization in Indian cuisine, Iyer has garnered extensive recognition, having been featured in prominent publications and media outlets such as The New York Times, NPR, and The Splendid Table. He has also received numerous accolades, including the esteemed James Beard Award for his book "660 Curries." In addition to his remarkable achievements in writing and media appearances, Iyer has also launched a line of spice blends and a unique restaurant concept, Pizza Karma, located in Eden Prairie, MN.

Insights from Our Benefactor: A Message of Support

The event came to an end with a powerful closing message delivered by our esteemed guest, Dr. Dash. His impactful words resonated deeply with all attendees and rekindled a sense of inspiration for those seeking to bring about positive change. Dr. Dash has been an unwavering supporter of IAM, and his generous donation was instrumental in making the night an unforgettable success.

Saying Goodbye to All the Fun

As the event drew to a close, the crowd erupted in cheers as the lucky winners of the raffle were announced. Congratulations to the winners of the amazing prizes to Bombay Pizza Kitchen, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Lulu Lemon - we hope you're ready to rock your winnings!

But the excitement didn't stop there - the board and guests then hit the dance floor, grooving to the beats of an incredibly talented DJ. Talk about ending the night on a high note! We created unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

Our team at IAM pulled out all the stops to make this event a roaring success, and the passion and enthusiasm were palpable. We banded together to create a one-of-a-kind experience, and it was an unforgettable night that we'll be talking about for years to come. We can't wait to see what the next celebration has in store!

Final Thoughts: A Little Something Extra

As previously noted, Dipankar Mukherjee, our opening speaker, recited Amanda Gorman's "New Day's Lyric" during the event. Now, we’d like to share some parts of the poem, as we believe it offers a powerful perspective on hope and new opportunities. Amanda Gorman's "New Day's Lyric" is an inspiring piece that calls for unity and cooperation among people in the new year. The poem's opening lines urge individuals to put aside their differences and embrace hope together. The speaker expresses a belief that this can lead to positive change for the world. However, the poem also acknowledges the pain and hardship of the past, emphasizing that one's past experiences can serve as a source of motivation and determination for the future.

New Day’s Lyric (edited version)

By Amanda Gorman 

May this be the day

We come together.

Tethered by this year of yearning,

We are learning

That though we weren't ready for this,

We have been readied by it.

We steadily vow that no matter

How we are weighed down,

We must always pave a way forward.

Come, look up with kindness yet,

For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.

We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,

But to take on tomorrow.

Know what we've fought

Need not be forgot nor for none.

It defines us, binds us as one,

Come over, join this day just begun.

For wherever we come together,

We will forever overcome.