Las Vegas Indian-American Community Celebrates Friends of India Annual Diwali Gala
Friends of India, the local Indian community club, celebrated its 38th Diwali by bringing together a diverse Indian community to the Green Valley Ranch Hotel & Casino. The Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, the perfectly selected venue to celebrate this year’s Diwali party, was spacious enough to accommodate close to 600 attendees, the majority of them new attendees, with ample social room to socialize and relish an expansive Indian dinner buffet catered by India Palace.
The evening program started on time with Rajat Sood, President of Friends of India, welcoming the attendees during the social hour, followed by the cultural musical performances by the local children. Friends of India Cultural Secretary Purbasha Banerjee impeccably choreographed the afternoon entertainment experience with multiple classical and contemporary dance and music performances by over 100 talented Indian children and adults alike. Mistress of Ceremony for the evening, Anjali Patel, kept the program moving while keeping the attendees motivated throughout the evening program. A significant power breakdown occurred almost an hour into the program due to a multiple-vehicle accident in the hotel vicinity. However, the backup power immediately kicked in with a limited power supply. After about half an hour break, the local talent show moved on with local community performers back on the stage to showcase their entertaining talent.
The hotel management opened a complimentary limited bar (Wine and beer) to compensate for the power disruption. The live tobacco-less glossy evergreen Paan (betel leaves) booth and hand-prepared ice-cream falooda were a hit with the attendees.
“This year’s Diwali celebrations experience was way better than the last years, where the long speeches dominated the function,” said multiple community regulars. “The current FOI’s executive committee led by Rajat Sood delivered a non-controversial Diwali celebration,” said another active member of the Indian community.
Among the elected officials, Indian-American Assemblyman Reuben D’Silva and Nicole Cannizzaro, Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate, were hobnobbing among the attendees. Representatives of Nevada State Governor Joe Lombardo, US Congresswoman Susie Lee, Dina Titus, and Congressman Steven Horsford handed Diwali proclamations to the Friends of India leadership.
Although the highly subsidized event, the per person admission of $50 was higher than in previous years for delicious dinner, local and Bollywood-style live performances, dancing, and meeting new community members. The executive committee did an incredible job raising money through sponsorships and advertisement sales for the commemorative book to subsidize the evening program from an approximate cost of $100 to $50 per ticketed person. Despite the higher ticket prices, the event was Vegas’ best Saturday “VALUE” experience.
The live band led by Los Angeleno, Nauzad, brought the attendees to the front stage area for dancing and singing. The ebullient crowd in beautiful, some stunning Indian outfits danced the late evening away on the high-beat Bollywood songs. Overall, it was one incredible evening for the local Indian-American community to socialize and celebrate Diwali.