Chicago IL: Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) Kerala chapter hosted their first National Convention at the Syro-Malabar Church Auditorium in Bellwood IL on August 21st, 2015. The Chief Guest for this grand occasion was Kerala Government Minister, Hon. Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan who inaugurated the event by lighting the traditional lamp. Other dignitaries included Senator Michael Noland, Oak Brook Mayor Dr. Gopal Lalmalani, Ms. Shobhana Verma, Director of South Asian Outreach Program at Chicago Board of Election Commission, US Congress Candidate, Ms. Susana Sandoval, Florida State Rep Candidate, Mr. Sajan Kurian and other community members.
The event started with the traditional “Thalapoli” under the leadership of Elsy Venkideth, which is a ceremonial procession that is a significant part of festivals in Kerala. In this ritual, women or young girls carry thalam, which literally means a plate, in their hands. Thalam is filled with rice, flowers and a lighted lamp. Thalapoli is considered a symbol of prosperity. This was accompanied by “Chendamelam” under the leadership of Kurien George, which is the famous percussion instrument of Kerala.
Dr.Mammen Jacob served as the Emcee of the program. The American national anthem was sung by Allen Chennoth and Indian national anthem by Subash George. The hosting President of INOC Chicago Chapter, Mr. Gladson Varghese introduced the chief guest and thanked all the local committee members for helping and making the event a great success. In his address, he mentioned the economic development of India since 1947 and how India has attained world economic power in 2015 because of the hard work and efforts of several congress party leaders who had ruled India for the last few decades. National General Secretary Dr. Salbi Chennoth welcomed everybody to the convention, National President Joby George did the Presidential address and emphasized more Congress leaders in USA should be part of this AICC approved organization.
Chief Guest, Minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan stated that all Keralites who love congress should support the Indian Congress party in India and at the same time should be part of the American political system. He urged every Indian to exercise their right to vote at the national elections in the U.S. He requested Keralites to be involved in helping the local Indian community here. Mayor Dr. Gopal Lalmalani mentioned there are several similarities between Kerala and the City of Oak Brook. He stated several examples and congratulated Malayalees for having the highest literacy rate and life expectancy rate in India. Senator Mike Noland in his speech mentioned that he had done some research about Kerala and the natural beauty of the state. He commended the remarkable service done by the Malayalee Community and INOC members in the United States. He extended his help to members of the Indian community here in Chicago. He presented a recognition award to INOC Kerala Chapter from the Illinois State Senate, signed by Senate President, John Cullerton and himself for their valuable contribution to the community.
INOC USA president, Lavika Bhagat Singh, INOC USA Chairman Shudh Prakash Singh, INOC Executive Vice President Chakot Radhakrishnan, Vice President Kalathil Varghese and other congress leaders also addresses the gathering and felicitated the convention organizers. Dr. Anupam Radhakrishnan, Chief Editor and Secretary released the event souvenir which was received by the Honorable Minister and Senator. The souvenir carried congratulatory messages from distinguished dignitaries from India and US. Lastly, Treasurer Saji Abraham gave the vote of thanks speech.
The meeting concluded with colorful entertainment program which was ably emceed by Mr. Subash George, Executive Committee Member of INOC who introduced the performers from various local dance schools. Participating schools were- Soorya Dance Academy, Shingari School of Rhythm, Lalu Palamattom group, Nevin Tobiaz, Ashley & Team. They performed Bollywood and fusion dance items which was greatly appreciated by the audience. An authentic Kerala style dinner-“Onam Sadhya”, was served to all the attendees. Sadhya is a vegetarian feast consisting of multi course meal that is served traditionally on a banana leaf. The sadya has steamed rice as the main ingredient served with many side vegetarian dishes. Everyone relished the grand feast which is an essential part of their heritage and culture.
Source: Asian Media USA
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