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Friday, August 19, 2005

A solid celebration of independence

While Aug. 15, 2005 marked the 58th year of independence in India, it marked the first year SolidWorks, a worldwide technology company with a Concord office, celebrated the holiday with its Indian employees.
After returning from a company retreat, event organizer Gopal Shenoy said, "I suddenly remembered that Aug. 15 was right around the corner."
In his 15 years living in the United States and working at SolidWorks, Shenoy, who lives with his family in North Chelmsford, said there had never been a celebration and this year, the time had come.
Indian Independence day marks the date India shrugged off 350 years of British colonial rule; it is the largest secular holiday in the predominately Hindu nation.
India is a nation of more than 1 billion people living in 28 states. Eighteen languages and some 800 dialects are strewn across the landscape which ranges from the mountainous regions of the north to the tropical areas of the south. Independence Day is one of the few holidays celebrated nation wide.
"It is unique because it is celebrated across all the states," said Vairang Pavarte, an Ayer resident who came to the United States three years ago.
During a celebration at SolidWorks that included Indian food and a slide show presentation by Shenoy, the idea was to round out the public perception of India. Shenoy said that while India has been receiving increased coverage in western media - particularly the burgeoning IT sector - the majority of coverage comes in response to a natural disasters, such as the tsunami last December, or in response to other social problems.
"Today, hopefully, will be a visual journey that takes you through [India's] richness in culture, richness in architecture and richness of artistic splendor," Shenoy said.
Before the presentation began, the national anthems of both the U.S. and India were sung by those in attendance. And while it is a newer song - indeed, some of Frank Sinatra's work predates it - the Indian national anthem penned by Rabindranath Tagore was sung emphatically by SolidWorks' Indian employees and their families.

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