Consul General Dr. Nagendra Prasad, while lauding the Indian American community for paying rich tributes to Sardar Patel, pointed out that the tallest statue in the world is of the Indian leader and is fittingly known as the “Statue of Unity.” (Twitter photo/@PMO)

ARTESIA, Calif. – The Indian American community in Southern California and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-LA chapter, in coordination with other local organizations, celebrated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 145th birth anniversary as “Bharat Ekta Diwas (India Unity Day)” through a webinar on Oct. 31.

The program started with lamp lighting followed by Ganesh Vandana by students of Dr. Sinduri’s Savithri Arts Academy, according to press release. A short video of Sardar Patel’s life was played. Dignitaries who participated live in the event included chief guest Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad, the consul general of India in San Francisco; keynote speakers Dr. Bharat Barai and guests of honor Dr. Abhaya Asthana, president of VHPA, and Naresh Solanki, mayor of Cerritos.

Consul General Prasad, appreciating the local organizations for celebrating the Indian leader, lauded the role of the ‘Iron Man of India,’ saying, “The entire nation is taking a unity pledge on this day including at the consulate office.”

Barai delved into history, explaining that it was Sardar Patel who united all the princely states into one strong united India. Asthana said Sardar Patel “stitched India together,” and made sure the nation stayed strong. Nationalism was closest to his heart than any other ‘ism’, he said.

Inspiring messages from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK Home Minister Priti Patel were read by Baljit Kaur Toor, general secretary of the Norco Gurudwara, and Sanjay Mehta, national general secretary of VHPA, respectively. Video messages congratulating organizers from union minister of agriculture Parshottam Rupala, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, and deputy chief minister Nitin Patel were played.

Young students from the “Elike” youth leadership program spoke eloquently on Sardar Patel’s famous quotes. As a youth student leader of Japan University, Ujjwala Thakar impressed the audience with her thoughts and fluency. The program also included a monologue written by Kamlesh Chauhan on the life of Sardar Patel and enacted by Aparna Hande. There were patriotic songs by Dr. Pravin Sadani, bhajans by Aravind Patel, and short messages by the local community leaders.

Prof. Keshav Patel, as the convener of the event, thanked executive committee members Vilas Jadhav and Arvind Patel and a host of others for making the program happen. Vasu Pawar thanked all volunteers, participants and supporters The event concluded with a prayer by Kaushik Patel, vice president of VHPA-LA, and Baljit Kaur Toor of Gurdwara Sadh Sangat in Norco.

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