Association of Kerala Medical Graduates organizes its annual convention in Atlanta
Kerala came alive across the halls of Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead at the spectacular Association of Kerala Medical Graduates (AKMG) 42nd Annual Convention on August 13-14, 2021. With close to 4000 members, AKMG is one of the oldest organizations of Indian physicians in North America.
The venue was resplendent with vivacious flower designs; Onam Pookalam, a bedecked elephant, and Onam Sadhya, a delightful spread of Kerala delicacies. Well over 400 attendees gleaming in silk attended the event.
[Left] (L to R) Dr. Nisha Nigil, Dr. Nigil Haroon, Dr. Subrahmanya Bhat and Dr. Anu Bhat at AKMG Annual Convention in Atlanta.
Guests of Honor addresses included keynotes by Dr. Swati Kulkarni, Consul General of India, Atlanta; Dr. Vikas Kapil, Chief Medical Officer and Associate Director for Science Center for Global Health, CDC; and Mamata Mohandas, Indian film actor, film producer and playback singer. The closing ceremony was addressed via video messages by Governor Brian Kemp; Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy; and Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala. Several AAPI leaders also attended the event.
Beginning with a city tour for all attendees, the celebrations kicked off in traditional Kerala style complete with Chenda Melam, an integral part of all festivals in God’s own country. Accompanied by the beats of Chenda (a percussion instrument), the melam (procession) was led by the guest of honor Dr. Kulkarni along the hallway to the ribbon cutting and opening ceremony. The ceremony also featured Kerala’s unique ritual, Thalappoli, where thalam (plate) filled with rice, flowers and a lighted lamp is carried as a symbol of prosperity and Maveli (King Mahabali) is believed to visit during the harvest festival of Onam in the state.
Following the traditional lighting of the lamp, Dr. Subrahmanya Bhat, President, AKMG extended a warm welcome to the audience. Dr. Kulkarni thanked the physicians for their services in her keynote address.
[Right] Onam Pookalam, the bedecked elephant, at AKMG Convention.
Mamata Mohandas released the 192-page souvenir along with Souvenir Committee Chair, Dr. Anu Bhat. The souvenir featured articles ranging from scientific, and health-related, to personal experiences.
A patriotism-themed fashion show showcasing India’s diversity through regional cloth-ing of various states, organized by Dr. Anu Bhat, featured Mamata Mohandas as the showstopper and garnered much praise from the audience.
Campus Comedy, The Phoenix Bird, by AKMG members provided ample entertainment along with Nadodi Ganangal and several entertainment segments throughout. Primetime event, Chitirathoni, carried a video message from popular singer K.S. Chitra, who was unable to attend the event due to the pandemic.
However, she had handpicked a few talented individuals who enthralled the audience. Yoga, meditation classes and Bollywood dance classes kept the families engaged. Achievers and office bearers were recognized, and student scholarships were awarded. The Convention offered four hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) and book releases by several AKMG authors including Kiran Bhat’s We of the Forsaken World, Dr. Venkit S. Iyer’s Aging Well and Reaching Beyond, Dr. Theckedath Mathew’s Comfort Care, Dr. Jay Raman’s From the Land of Spice and the Land of Oil, Dr. M.P. Ravindranathan’s Second Chance, Dr. Nisha Nigil’s Haroon’s Covid Tales, and Dr. Venugopal K. Menon’s My Mother Called Me Unni.
[Left] (L to R) Dr. Anu Bhat, M.V. Pillai, Dr. Subrahmanya Bhat, Dr. Narendran Kumar and
Dr. Thomas Mathew.
Dr. Murthy spoke candidly about his own and his family’s experiences during the ongoing pandemic. “I feel an enormous sense of pride and gratitude for our colleagues in the medical and dental field. You demonstrated true courage and families have as well,” he commended, closing with a quote of Swami Vivekananda his mother often repeated to him when he was a child, “It is in our service to each other, that we find true enlightenment.”
“It is heartening that AKMG has collaborated with various organizations in India and other parts of the world to assist those in need. Kerala is privileged to have AKMG’s love and care over the years. Even during the ongoing pandemic, we have been the recipient of your generosity in the form of essential equipment to tackle Covid-19 and now we are grateful that you are taking the initiative to realize Kerala’s dream of setting up a center for excellence capable of providing multi-disciplinary skills in containing contagious diseases in the model of CDC,” said Kerela Chief Minister, Shri Vijayan.
[Right] Dr. Anu Bhat and Dr. Subrahmanya Bhat with Dr. Swati Kulkarni, CGI, Atlanta.
“AKMG’s 42nd annual convention was a grand success. All 425 attendees were vaccinated and followed Covid precautions. We all enjoyed the fellowship with friends and families.” said Dr. Bhat, also highlighting the achievements and enormous work by AKMG members during the pandemic. Supporting food banks that feed the hungry and homeless, particularly raising enough funds to feed 10,000 homeless people during Christmas last year, Dr. Bhat said that it was among his gratifying moments of the presidency. Under his leadership, AKMG raised over $200,000 for Covid relief in Kerala along with providing pulse oximeters, PPEs and masks to hospitals, doctors and health care workers in Kerala; initiated telehealth service Dronacare in collaboration with Innovation Incubator to provide free health care advice to people in Kerala; and initiated steps for bridging Kerala CDC and Atlanta CDC.
[Left] Dr. Subrahmanya Bhat, President, AKMG with Dr. Swati Kulkarni, Consul General of India in Atlanta.
Dr. Haroon took over as new president following the presidential address by Dr. Bhat. Dr. Haroon echoed the feelings of the attendees and thanked the organizers for organizing a wonderful convention. He acknowledged the years of hard work by former leaders of the association that has paved the way for AKMG to become the premier organization that it is today. He went on to talk about the AKMG’s vision of its members achieving their full potential and enriching the lives of people around the world. He reiterated that he would continue to work with this vision and further strengthen the presence of AKMG in promoting leadership, education, health, equity and justice.
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