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Azharuddin, Karen Handel, Rob Woodall part of colorful IFA Freedom Mela 2018

Atlanta, GA, September 6, 2018: The Indian Friends of Atlanta (IFA) yet again brought the whole community together for the largest ever Freedom Mela 2018 in Atlanta to celebrate the 72nd Independence Day of India. It was a well-organized event staged at the Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta. Year after year since 2014, IFA has built on the phenomenal success of the Freedom Mela and 2018 was no exception.

Despite the forecast for rain, the community turned out in large numbers to demonstrate its pride and support in celebrating India’s 72nd Independence Day. Even intermittently lashing rains did not dampen their spirit and passion to make the Freedom Mela a memorable event yet again

IFA’s main objective of hosting Freedom Mela in an open arena is to bring the Indian community into the mainstream by hosting the largest attended Indian event in Atlanta.

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The vast area of the Verizon Amphitheater was elegantly decorated to show the USA-India partnership with flags of both countries lining the pathways leading to the entrance of the venue. Once in the venue, grand decoration of the park welcomed guests. The venue and the enormous stage were decorated and draped in tricolors of India and stars and stripes of USA. The stage decorations also featured an elegantly framed video wall and beautifully crafted banners for the main sponsors that blended well with the overall theme.

The guests of honor included Former Indian Cricket team Captain Mohammed Azharuddin, US Congressman Rob Woodall and Congresswoman Karen Handel, Commissioner Mark Butler and State Senators Johns Albers, State representatives Ed Setzler, Clay Cox and Sam Parks, and Acting Consul General of India L.T.Ngaihte,,Singer PropheC, Zunair Khalid  and other distinguished guests.

The flag hoisting ceremony was followed by fervent and passionate parade showcasing various states of India. Youth volunteer dressed in Bharat Mata costume carrying the Indian tricolor led the parade to the excitement of everyone in the audience.  Another volunteer portraying Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came next and was followed by enthusiastic groups colorfully representing different states of India. More than 800 people participated in the parade showcasing the colors and culture of their states and other non-profit groups including IFA Youth Volunteers, IFA Sakhi Women.  It was a festive atmosphere that displayed the culture, the uniqueness, the spirit and the unity of Indian States.

Following the parade, a cultural spectacular by over 500 participants depicting the arts and culture of various states, was presented by several dance schools and   community organizations. The day was packed with over 20 cultural performances from various dance academies and community organizations, presented in rich colors and in a very entertaining manner. MCs for the event, Varun and Aishwarya, engaged the audience with their clean presentations. We lost a dear friend Raj Jamadagni during last year and a moment of silence was kept in honor of Raj.

Mohammed Azharuddin gave an inspiring speech and presented trophies to the winners and runners-up of IFA’s inaugural Independence Cup 2018. IFA rolled out a raffle program this year to raise life memberships and successfully enrolled around 400 life members. The raffle gave away many valuable prizes to the lucky.

The Grand prize of a brand-new black Toyota Camry LE worth $24K was won by Sujit Borse and Sumit.

After carefully evaluating the options to raise funds to support the medical and rehabilitation efforts for the people of Kerala, IFA decided to accept donations online, as well as to dedicate up to $5,000 funds collected from the raffle program.

Freedom Mela 2018 had lot of vendors with ethnic clothes, jewelry, education services, business services and delectable Indian cuisines. DJ Sonny provided great visuals and audio for the grand celebrations. Vakiti Creations covered the event through their team of photographers. Special thanks to Udaya for photo booth decorations.

IFA founding members Sunil Savili, Anil Boddireddy, Shyam Mallavarapu, Sairam Pamulapati, Kiran Gogineni, Srinivas Peddi, and Sreekanth Uppala and the IFA executive team Kishan Tallapally, Lakshmi Thesam, Abay Radhakrishnan, Raghuveer Reddy, Rakesh Khanna, Deepa Sharma, Jamaludheen Masthankhan, Sridevi Ranjit, Sanjeev Akula, Suresh Volam, Giridhar Kotagiri, Ch. Kranthi and Niranjan Podduturi acknowledged all the participating associations, 200+ volunteers, sponsors, vendors and the City of Alpharetta, for their hard work dedication and support throughout this massive effort by IFA for the community.

27th Group, Patel Brothers, Suvidha Groceries, Jhalak, Orpine Inc, Rapid IT, Unicorn Technologies, S Convention Center, Soora Funds, Srinivas Avula, Softpath System LLC., North Atlanta Womens Care, North Atlanta Vascular Clinic, Chugh LLP, and various other sponsors supported Freedom Mela.

The organizers thanked media partners NRI Pulse, TV Asia, Telugu NRI Radio, Khabar, India Tribune, Atlanta Dunia and Desi Express.

The IFA team also recognized all the performers and their parents, as well as the tireless efforts of over 200 volunteers and Verizon Amphitheater Management, in making Freedom Mela 2018 a grand event to be remembered.

“IFA is overwhelmed by the growing support and increased participation from the community, which make all our hard work and efforts truly worthwhile.  We want to thank each and every one that participated in Freedom Mela 2018 and we request pardon for any mistakes or inconveniences you may have faced during our event,” the organizers said through a press statement.

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