India Association of Terre Haute (IATH), Indiana, observed March 8 as a day of remembrance for the deceased members of the community in the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) hall before celebrating the Holi spring festival. The occasion, first of its kind by the Terre Haute Indian community, evoked spontaneous enthusiasm among all attendees both young and adult. According to the IATH press release, about 100 people attended the memorial.
First IATH President Dr. Dipa Sarkar began by recalling the growth of the Terre Haute Indian community over the years and how the idea of an association took root in the minds of a few, notably of late sociology professor Narsi Patel. Subsequent speakers paid tribute to past IATH presidents. Prof. Prodeep Dutta eulogized Prof. Patel, a pioneer in founding IATH in 1969. He is remembered as a philosopher, writer, poet, storyteller, world-traveler, an art-collector, an exceptional photographer and a connoisseur of music.
Dr. Surjeet Singh recalled Prof. Gurmeet Sekhon, also a sociologist, active in community affairs, compassionate and committed to propagating Indian culture among Americans. He also spoke of Dr. Dinesh Mehta, a walking dictionary in psychiatry, poet, philosopher, and well-versed in current affairs. A wing of the Regional Hospital in Terre Haute is named after the latter.
Prof. Cecil Lobo was remembered by Dr. Pulkit Patel for his humorous temperament. Lobo had been honored with best teacher awards in Engineering at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. Prof. Swapan Ghosh remembered Murali Chakraborty, an engineer, who expired in December 2013, for his compassion and love for the Terre Haute community and the disadvantaged. Chakarborty started Saraswati Puja (worship) in Terre Haute and remained its priest for the last 30 years. Dr. Anil Sarkar and Shanti Aaron spoke of Avi Rajhansa and Dr. Dinkar Patel respectively. Pramila Fernandez spoke of Jyotsna Desai. Madhu Patel paid respect to all other deceased members of the community on behalf of all present.
Attendees enjoyed a slideshow with some of the photos dating back to 1969. IATH represents a vibrant Indian community with a rich history of cultural involvement in local community affairs,epitomized by the “Taste of India” event, which is organized almost every year as a fundraising and culture awareness event for local Americans. It is attended by about 800 to 1000 people.
Children exuberantly played with colors in the Holi festivity that followed. IATH Children’s Committee thanked parents and community for providing them with such cultural experiences and pledged to be more Earth-friendly by using the recently introduced recycle bins. The event concluded with delicious fare served by Persis Grill.