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ILA – Oldest Expat Women’s Group in GCC Seeks Greater Engagement with Bahrain Community

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One of the oldest expat women’s groups in the GCC region, the Indian Ladies Association (ILA), is seeking to strengthen its community and cultural ties with host country Bahrain through a series of activities.

ILA President Sarada Ajith announced at a press conference that the 68-year-old women’s group will be moving to new premises in Zinj – a spacious villa which will support a wider range of activities for members as well as for the ILA’s SNEHA Free Recreation Centre for Children of all Nationalities with Intellectual Disabilities.

“One of the key values of the ILA has always been to build bridges of cultural understanding and friendship with our host country, Bahrain and to serve the local community through our service programs,” Ms. Ajith said, “The shift to new premises will help us to deliver on this plan in a more effective manner.”

On Friday, May 19, the ILA will be organizing an ‘Anand Bazaar’, a fun fair with an emphasis on crafts, cuisine and culture and the organizers are calling for Bahraini craftspeople to take part in the event.

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“We want to showcase a shared cultural and craft heritage and welcome Bahraini craftspeople and entrepreneurs working in the crafts sector to participate, “Ms. Ajith said, “The vibrant Anand Bazaar returns to the ILA Calendar after a gap of nearly 8 years – it is a labour of love and imagination by ILA Members and will take place in the spacious Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam Diamond Jubilee Hall in Zinj which is centrally located and has good parking facilities as well. Proceeds from the Anand Bazaar will be used to fund our various local charity activities such as Workers’ Welfare, English-language classes for low-income workers and outreach programs for local charities.”

People wishing to take stalls – commercial as well as individual – may contact ILA vice-President Sunanda Gaikwad on 3661-1041.

The title sponsor for Anand Bazaar is Lulu Hypermarket. The other sponsors include BMMI, SriSoukya Ayurvedic Centre, Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Centre, Al Rabeeh Medical Centre, National Group of Companies, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, Dadabhai Travels, Al Hilal Hospital, Elite Resort & Spa, Indigo and Convex. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and feature dance contests for local groups and a wonderful cultural program led by visiting Indian Kathak exponent, Kumar Sharma.

Another exciting event in the first half of 2023 will be the Leela Jashanmal Lecture to be delivered by India’s ‘Missile Woman’ Dr. Tessy Thomas, the Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory at the Defense Research and Development Organization – India’s equivalent to NASA. The Leela Jashanmal Lecture is an annual event that seeks to inspire women and men in Bahrain by engaging with women leaders in different fields. It was inaugurated in 2007 to commemorate the pioneering work of ILA Founder Mrs. Leela Jashanmal and has so far hosted prison reform activist Dr Kiran Bedi, child rights champion Praveen Nair and anti-child labour activist Shanta Sinha.

“This year, our guest selection reflects the growing engagement between Bahrain and India in the field of space research and we wanted to showcase the power of women role-models in the area of scientific research,” said ILA General Secretary Dr. Tejender Kaur Sarna, “We plan to invite Bahraini and Indian students to the lecture and to interact with Dr. Tessy Thomas and be inspired by her vision and work. The lecture will take place in July and is free for the public.”

The events roster announcements for the first half of the year concluded with the Grand ILA Dandiya announcement which will take place in October. This is a much-awaited cultural dance fest which attracts over 2,000 guests from all communities and is acclaimed as one of the most colorful and interactive festive occasions in Bahrain. Ms. Ajith pointed out that the funds generated by the Dandiya is used to support SNEHA Recreation Centre activities.

“The mission this year is to increase our membership so that we have a greater pool of friendship and talent to serve the community – we welcome new members,” said Ms. Ajith, “We also appeal to sponsors to step forward and join us in our work to enrich the community and bilateral ties between Bahrain and India and support deserving causes.”

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