Aurora ceremony honors city’s Native American community

Hundreds of Indian Americans celebrated a milestone anniversary for India in downtown Aurora on Monday.

As part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 1947, American Indians participated in the raising of the Indian flag at One Aurora Plaza.

This is the city’s seventh flag-raising celebration, and Monday’s was the first for what has become the city’s fastest-growing ethnic community.

“America and India have so much in common,” Ald said. Shweta Baid, 10th Ward, herself a history maker by being the first Native American elected to the Aurora City Council and one of the first such elected officials in Illinois.

“America is the oldest democracy and India is the biggest,” she said. “Both are the largest democracies in the world.”

It was a day of honor for the Indian community, which has distinguished itself for decades in the city, including since the opening of the SVS Balaji Temple in Aurora in 1985, officials said.

Recognition of Indian contribution and culture was central to the establishment of the Indian American Community Outreach Board in the city by former Mayor Tom Weisner.

Clayton Muhammad, Aurora’s director of communications and equity, noted that community involvement in Aurora was one of Weisner’s goals when he created the board in 2013.

“I believe he would be exceptionally proud of the growth of this community’s involvement,” Muhammad said.

Much of that involvement was recognized on Monday, from the middle schoolers who achieved national recognition, to the people setting first keys in the city, to the people intimately involved in making Aurora a better and more prosperous place.

“Every Indian makes their mark,” said Sandeep Londhhe, co-chair of the Indian American Community Outreach Board. “I am proud to belong to this community.

The middle school students are Nidhi Sagaram, Samil Sharma, and Viraj Vyas, members of the eighth-grade team from Granger Middle School that won the national eCybermission competition held in Washington, DC, by the United States military. Their team advisor was Aruna Rao.

The team members were among 65 high school students from across the country who entered the competition, which recognizes real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and math. The Granger team investigated the impact of different soil additives on increasing the magnesium content of food crops and determined a cost effective and environmentally friendly solution.

City officials also recognized two former Aurora high school students who are now succeeding as students.

Vedanth Ganesh, now a sophomore at Indiana University, is president of Hindu Yuva on the Bloomington campus and hosts his own podcast, “For Culture, with Vedanth Ganesh.”

Akshat Maheshwari has been accepted into the US Naval Academy, where less than 10% of 16,000 applicants were taken last year. He is majoring in robotics and plans to continue serving his country, Muhammad said.

The city also presented its first Light and Excellence awards to six members of the Native American community, including Baid, not only for her work as a city council member, but also for her work as an educator and her work as a landlord. single for many years. companies and a consultant for others.

Another person recognized for her status as a first was Khavita Athanakar, the first American Indian Associate Circuit Court Judge for the 18th Circuit in DuPage County.

She was recognized for her work in addressing the opioid crisis as Presiding Judge of the FOCUS Courtroom.

The city has recognized Harish Anathapadmanabahn, a downtown business owner who, as one of the founders of JH Real Estate Partners, owns 13 mixed-use commercial buildings in downtown Aurora, redeveloping more of 130,000 square feet.

He also founded APS Data Technologies and a subsidiary, APS Training Academy.

Sharon Mani Garcia, assistant dean for communications, humanities and the arts at Waubonee Community College, who holds a master’s degree in educational psychology and several other degrees, was also recognized.

Also recognized was Dr. Siddhesh Shavede, National Director of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sang, known as the Sangh, which aims to coordinate the American Hindu community to practice, preserve and advance the ideals of Hindu Dharma.

The city also awarded the Light and Excellence Award to Sri Begur Nagendra Rao, who has served as a priest at Balaji Temple for the past 25 years. With eight years of study in Hindu philosophy, tradition and religious rights, as well as eight years in Sanskrit scriptures and literature, he speaks six languages, according to officials.

Muhammad said Rao has “willingly answered the call” from the city of Aurora whenever there is a need, whether in person or on Zoom during the pandemic.

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