When the first Deepawali public celebration , any where in the world ,out side India was envisioned in 1987.We approached the city of New York for Permission to use the south street sea port, of course on payment, the city and businesses located were very skeptical to put it mildly. Now they look forward to the revenue it generates and the good will it fosters.In New York Deepawali by AIA is celebrated in the open on the 1st Sunday of October to accommodate to the weather, Deepawali usually falls in the month of November.
AIA was founded on August 20, 1967, it is the oldest grass root national organization of Asian Indian Immigrants in the United States, fostered on the democratic principle of “one member one vote:, with chapters and membership spread across the United States of America. It concerns itself with the social welfare of the Asian Indians in the United States, and to help them become a part of the mainstream of American life. AIA represents the hopes and aspirations of those immigrants who are united by their common bond of Indian Heritage and American Commitment.
It may be worth while to enumerate just a few of the achievements:
· Successfully lobbied for Minority Status for the immigrants of South Asian Americans for civil rights purposes in 1970’s Separate enumeration of Asian Indians in the “Asian/ Pacific Islander” category for the first time in the US Census in 1980, after AIAsuccessfully lobbied. (NYT, week in Review, May 9,1993).Before 1930 Indians were enumerated as Hindus in the US Census Ananya : 900 page book about India published by AIA in collaboration with India study center of SUNY Stony Brook university in 1997 . Because of the efforts of AIA, Diwali was celebrated for the first time in White House in the year 2003, and 1000 silver coins were issued to commemorate the occasion. Suspension of alternate street parking in NYC on Diwali day, which was passed and enacted in 2005 The Association continues to work for the under privileged, the deprived and to extend a helping hand in worldwide disasters natural or man made I am very humbled and honored to serve as the National president of this esteemed organization, which has nurtured me since 1970’s on how to serve humanity and the community.
On behalf of National AIA, I would like to thank and congratulate the president of AIA New York Chapter Sunil Modi and his entire team of dedicated members. They have worked very hard to arrange this function and by their endeavors teaching the next generation by example about values of community work and pride in their heritage . Let us keep serving the community and helping the less fortunate.