By Sanjay Gowda
(Editor’s note: Mr. Gowda is president of the India Association of Greater Boston, known as IAGB.)
For the past several decades, IAGB has been celebrating India Day to commemorate India’s Independence and celebrate Indian American’s rich culture and traditions, with utmost vigor and grandeur. The celebration typically draws crowds of thousands, bringing everyone together with a vibrant display of Indian pride and heritage in the heart of Boston.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caught us in the midst of our lives and has forced us to adapt to the new norm. One of the most challenging ‘new norm’ is the restriction on the number of people gathering in one place at the same time, thus adding a huge question mark on ways to celebrate various special milestone socio-cultural or historic occasions, which are traditionally and historically celebrated in a grand way, welcoming a huge public gathering
The COVID-19 restrictions on the large gatherings have forced the cancellation or postponement of many events. Amidst these challenging times, our traditional in-person India Day celebrations will not be possible in Boston downtown this year. However, the celebration will move to a virtual platform with unique and creative ways to commemorate the special occasion. It will be a multi-week long celebration with multiple initiatives that will bring the entire community together. On August 15, 2020, we will have live performances from professional artists and bollywood celebrities, to everyone to enjoy from the comforts of your home. Also, dignitaries, diplomats and elected representatives from the New England region and India will be joining us to celebrate this momentous occasion. The programs will be delivered through various platforms to access easily on mobiles, PCs and large TV screens. As we look forward to celebrating India Day, we are having a number of new initiatives and activities leading to the grand finale.
● India Flag Hoisting in many towns and cities : while we have done away with the traditional plan of bringing a huge gathering at one centralized place, we are planning to hoist Indian flag and bring this celebration to as many towns and cities as possible in the New
England region. This will help decentralize and also allow to take pride in the celebration at the local towns, involving local communities.
● India Day Learning Series :”India’s Journey to Independence”. In collaboration with Shishu Bharti, we are excited to present a fun-filled, thoughtful six-week virtual course for middle school and high school students. It is an effort to create awareness and provide educational insight into India’s long journey, from being a subjugated nation to a free nation, to our younger generation.
● India Awareness Series: Publishing a series of news articles on the history and significance of Independence Day, India’s culture, and various topics related to India and Indian American community in the local town newspapers and digital media. Again, the articles perhaps written by our younger generation, will reach as many towns and cities in the New England region to create awareness on India’s rich culture and history.
● IAGB Community Youth Excellence Awards: We will be recognizing upto two rising juniors or rising senior students, who demonstrate extraordinary achievements or exceptional service of an altruistic nature for the greater good of the community
● Civic Engagement Events: As part of our Civic Engagement initiative, we will be having a series of webinars to discuss about the current affairs and issues that matter to the Indian American community.
● India Day 2020 Magazine : This would be a platform for our community members to come together, share their experience and interests on various topics, especially relating to Independence Day celebrations, and the challenging times we are all living in. Also, we would share all the topics and issues that matter to Indian American community at large in this magazine.
● Daily Yoga Practice: To manage and foster the feeling of well-being during this stressful time, we will be continuing the daily live virtual yoga sessions in partnership with NIMHANS, with new modules every week, five days a week.
● Stand up Comedy Shows: A series of stand up comedy shows from well known comedians during weekends, leading to the grand finale on August 15, 2020.
● Live Talks Shows with Celebrities : We will be having live talk shows with high achievers and influencers.
● Grande Finale on August 15, 2020 : We will be featuring virtual concerts, musical dance Performances from professional artists and celebrities for everyone to enjoy from the comforts of their home. More details to follow soon.
The IAGB team is super excited to bring all these activities and high quality performances to our community members. Also, the virtual platform with multi-week celebration is a perfect opportunity for the sponsors and advertisers to reach out to the wider audience through various channels. Please visit iagb.org for updates and in case of any questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to celebrating India Day 2020 with all of you. Please stay safe and follow all the recommended guidelines.