As part of our 10th Anniversary Bollywood Ball celebration, CultureALL began a tradition of giving special recognition to someone in our community who has made a significant contribution to creating cultural awareness and understanding. This year, we honor not just one person, but an entire family: the Sahai Family.
For their tireless dedication to bringing together people from diverse cultural backgrounds for authentic, cultural experiences and learning, and for making Iowa a more inclusive community for globally minded residents to live, work, study, and play, the CultureALL community recognizes the family of Dr. Prem Sahai as honorary CultureALL Ambassadors.
About the Sahai Family
Dr. Prem Sahai came to Iowa in 1957 from India by boat – because that was the cheapest way to travel – and then took a bus from New York City to Cedar Falls. It was December. At the bus station, he told the taxi driver: “Take me to State Teacher’s College.” A quizzical look on the taxi driver’s face made it clear he had no idea where Prem wanted to go. So Prem just asked to be taken to the president’s house. When nobody answered the front door, Prem went to the back door and knocked. President Maucker was six-foot-four and at that moment stood 3 steps higher than Prem who was only five-foot-two. Not intimidated, he asked the college president where he could find a place to stay for the upcoming semester.
During a class on the History of Science, a professor casually remarked that India had not made any contributions to science. Prem disputed the statement and selected “Science in India” as his master’s thesis. It was later published as a book.
After graduation, Prem returned to India and worked in the department of education. He soon returned to Iowa to continue his own education, becoming a teacher at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. Dr. Prem authored several books on Hindu religion and public education, including Hindu Marriage Samskara (“rites of passage”).
Dr. Prem passed away in 2000, but his family carries on his work to improve education and cultural appreciation in Iowa.
Dr. Subhash C. Sahai, the eldest son, is a family practice physician, a member of Iowa’s Board of Regents, and a former Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Air National Guard. His wife Dr. Sushma Sahai is a pediatrician who takes special interest in programs serving children with ADHD and behavioral disorders.
Dr. Anil K. Sahai was an Internal Medicine physician, a published author, and an inventor with several patents. His wife Nutan Sahai is the first woman chairperson of the board of trustees for the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center and is a perennial speaker on international understanding for Character Counts in Webster City.
All of the Sahai family members are perhaps most widely known for their inexhaustible commitment to the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center as a place that welcomes people of all cultures and faiths to come together and celebrate.
( The Sahai Family (pictured above) Front: Anil, Urmila, and Subhash Sahai:BackSubhash and Neena Gupta; Nutan Sahai Sushma Sahai, Shashi and Anil Agarwal)
Tributes to the Family
“The Sahai family continues to give back to this state in many different ways, through service, philanthropy, education, and friendship. I personally have been blessed by their friendship and their willingness to share with me their Indian cultural heritage.” –Terry E. Branstad, Governor of Iowa
“I feel really proud to honor such a great family. It been 9 years since my husband and I are living in Des Moines, and the biggest reason we feel at home here can largely be attributed to the Sahai Family and their role in founding the Hindu Temple & Cultural Center. It is where we, as Iowans, can perform our cultural traditions.” – Falguni Shukla, CultureALL Ambassador and founder of Tandav School of Dance
“Philanthropy and service above self are true reflection of Sahai family’s approach towards communities in Iowa & India. We are fortunate and proud to be associated with Sahai family as part of their contributions towards Indian community.
While the family foundation has contributed millions in donations towards all the 3 major schools in Iowa & to the Des Moines Medical University, the family members themselves donated & participated in the development of Hindu Culture in Iowa. Sahai family is instrumental in constructing one of the most beautiful, traditional & authentic Hindu Temple in Madrid, which helped the Indian community to continue their cultural & religious traditions in Iowa. Sahai family also led the way for Iowans to partner with & help develop various charitable institutions internationally.
The Indo-American Association of Iowa is proud that Sahai family is honored by CulturALL as they are true Ambassadors of Philanthropy, Education & Culture.” – Hitesh Kapadia, President, Indo-American Association of Iowa