AIA holds 34th Deepavali Gala, honors 4

New York: The Association of Indians in America (AIA-NY), the oldest community organization, held their 34th Deepavali Benefit Gala & Fashion Show on October 16 at the elegant Douglaston Manor Golf Club.

AIA-NY President Harish Thakkar stated that due to Covid restrictions and kids under 14 not yet vaccinated, the annual mega Deepavali festival at South Street Seaport will not be held this time. Instead, a Diwali Diya lighting ceremony will be held at Times Square on November 4, and in a first, AIA will display a Diwali greeting on the Nasdaq market billboard and a mobile digital billboard truck will go around NYC and Long Island.

Thakkar said that last year during Covid, AIA NY distributed groceries to needy families, lunch packs to NYPD and masks to various hospitals and community centers in New York. This year they are sending $110,000 to India for Covid relief.

The august audience at the event included former AIA presidents, community leaders and heads of other organizations.

Four prominent and accomplished members of the Indian community were honored at the event: Dr Nirmal Mattoo, Dr Lopa Mishra, Eric Kumar and Dr Umesh Gidwani.

Dr. Nirmal K. Mattoo, honored with Lifetime Achievement Award, received a standing ovation from the attendees. He is a co-founder  of Atlantic Dialysis Management Services, the largest private dialysis provider in the state. He was CEO of Wyckoff-Heights Medical Center.

Eric Kumar was introduced by Kamlesh Mehta, chairman of The South Asian Times. Kumar is founder of Commercial Capital Funding Group. During his 6 years of service on active duty and National Guard, he was in combat in Desert Storm in Iraq/Kuwait and was also deployed to Kosovo and South Korea along the DMZ line with North Korea.

Dr. Umesh Gidwani is chief of Cardiac Critical Care, Mount Sinai Medical Center, who has made immense contributions in Critical Cardiac Care and Critical Care,  especially during the Covid Epidemic.

A US army veteran and entrepreneur Eric Kumar was honored at the gala. From right, NYC Commissioner of Community Affairs Roberto Perez representing Mayor Bill de Blasio, Totee Wadhwa (Mrs Kumar), Eric Kumar, AIA-NY President Harish Thakkar and Kamlesh Mehta.

Dr. Lopa Mishra, Professor of Medicine, is a star clinical scientist and gastroenterologist.

A highlight of the AIA event was a fashion extravaganza, powered by Nishi Bahl, with the theme Unity in Diversity & Indian Culture.

Image courtesy of (Photos: AIA)

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