“We wanted to make them culturally aware through networking," said Riya Navani, the founder and director of activities of Dedicated Indians of America. "It has had a cultural impact on their kids - it helps them learn more."
Serving 60 children from the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, the organization began in Bergen County by catering to a large population of those who of Indian heritage.
It's planning on moving back to the county -- Paramus -- from a facility in Secaucus.
Borough officials recently honored the group for the work it provides not only for members but for the global community. The group is now celebrating Diwali and the approaching American holiday giving season.
“We do everything as a group. Everyone does everything, said Mona Bhansali, the co-director of outreach.
“We are educating children to take care of underprivileged children globally", said Niti Tandon, the organization’s vice president. "It could be anybody, no matter what background.”
Members celebrated the Indian New Year's holiday in Demarest with more than 1,500 attendees who enjoyed prayer with their families, gift exchanges or each others decorated houses. They believe in honoring a goddess of money and prosperity.
"They were the ones that ran the refreshment stands and helped organize and choreograph the events and on stage performanaces,” said Tandon of the group of young people who range from 9 years old through college age.
“The essence of Diwali is conquering good over evil and controlling anger,” said Navani. “It’s a new beginning."
The group also focuses on local and international charitable projects.
It recently gave 200 children school supplies and paid for tuition as necessary for those in India, Pakistan, and in New Jersey and Detroit. Members are working on a collections drive and annual benefit event.
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