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Celebrating 20 Years of Serving Seniors

By Mahadev Desai
October 2016
Celebrating 20 Years of Serving Seniors

 

(Left) The Punjabi gidda (folk dance by ladies) led by Chinti Bali.
(All Photos: Vinod Karia)

Bollywood music lovers nostalgically refer to songs from yesteryear as “Old is Gold” or “Golden Collection.” These are compositions from down memory lane that never lost their glitter.

The packed anniversary banquet of the Senior Citizens Program (SCP) at Ashiana Banquet Hall in Global Mall not only confirmed that Georgia seniors have retained their own glitter, but that they are also worthy of respect and gratitude for their contributions to humanity and to society. After all, with age comes wisdom!

The banquet on Sunday, September 11, 2016 also showed the perfect avenue of empowerment and challenges many senior citizens need after retirement. The fanfare and camaraderie at the banquet amply showed that seniors may have greyed, but remain spirited!

SCP’s Founder/Executive Director Raj Razdan warmly welcomed all and gave a brief account of SCP’s evolution from a small, 20- member organization into Georgia’s most vibrant with more than 500 robust members, fostering fraternity through frequent social get-togethers, important presentations for health and welfare, lunches, dinners, health fairs, picnics, and entertainment programs. “Today, we are celebrating our 20th Anniversary, averaging approximately an event per month without fail for these past 20 years—that’s over 240 events and more than $500,000 of sponsorships over these 20 years, through the generosity of our many steadfast committed sponsors, volunteers, participants, musicians, restaurants, and well-wishers. It's amazing to look back 20 years ago and to realize the incredible growth SCP has experienced in membership, activities, and capabilities. SCP will always be evolving and we look forward to what the next decade would bring,” said Raj.

She continued, “We must pledge with renewed enthusiasm to continue to bring a positive influence to our adopted country of USA and yet thank with gratitude India for endowing us with its rich heritage, culture, history, and traditions. The possibilities (implying, rather than relegate senior citizens to the sidelines of life, we should celebrate them and work to enable them to more fully become integrated in society) of what we can accomplish are endless, and in the words of Swami Vivekananda, “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.”

Being 15th anniversary of the infamous 9/11 attacks, a moment of silence was observed as a mark of respect for the fallen.

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The fashion show.

Then the party began! Ujjagar Wassan, Anjana Shah, and Raj Razdan emceed. Raneez Collection presented a Fashion Show with seniors clad in colorful saris and fetching outfits swinging elegantly into action with great poise in front of a cheering audience—displaying more courage than most of the young folks sitting there!

Wassan regaled the audience with a few shairis. Mohan Lal sang two soulful Saigal ghazals, “Bazaar se guzra hoon” and “Layi hayat aai kaza.”

Long-time members Sharad Shah, Mansukhbhai Shroff, Mrs. Gauba, and Vinay Doshi lauded yeoman services of the SCP volunteers for enriching the lives of the seniors.

Pallavi Patel, a talented dancer and a senior herself, enthralled the audience with her scintillating dance to the song “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram.”

Community leader Vikas Verma introduced Chief Guest, Consul General Nagesh Singh. The consul talked about the issue of seniors being common everywhere: seniors need caring and family support; they feel neglected and need togetherness and companionship. He commended Raj Razdan and her team for their initiative in founding and running SCP. “This is the best gathering I have come to so far,” he said. “I also want to touch upon concerns of increasing cases of marital discord among young couples who come to the U.S. on H1B visas. They need help. So, I request Indian associations to interact with the Consulate to discuss ways and means of helping such unfortunate couples or spouses. Thank you for inviting me, and I seek your blessings.” He then presented awards for community service.

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The veterans.

Veterans, mostly seniors, of the Indian Armed Forces were recognized for their service to their motherland India by cutting the cake in their honor. SCP’s seniormost member, Mansukhbhai Shroff, also did the honor of cutting the 20th Anniversary cake.

A major sponsor, Anil Khatod, introduced Greg Pridgeon, who has endeared himself to the Indian community with his amiable nature. Hon. Pridgeon cited statistics on the rise in number of seniors in the U.S. and their needs for housing, transport, food, health, etc. “Seniors deserve proper care and respect because they have wisdom, perseverance, maintain traditions, and they give lots of love. Atlanta is proud to have a large Indian community. We are eternally bound together from the Himalayas to the Appalachian Mountains, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. We are bound together through the relation and respect Dr. M. L. King Jr. had with the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and through the Civil Rights Movement and Human Rights Movement here in the U.S. You all are worthy ambassadors of India, and being associated with the Indian community makes me proud. My congratulations to Raj and all the volunteers.” Head of Chancery D.V. Singh also congratulated SCP for its 20 years of exemplary service.

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The garba group let by Pallavi Patel.

Entertainment progressed with seniors Kusum Sinha and Anjana Shah reciting poems. Sandhya Bhagat’s Dhoop Chaoon presented an amusing mime act, “Sadak kiske Baap ki.” Kalaivani Dance and Music Academy provided a Bharatanatyam item by T. Krishnan. Nritya Natya Kala Bharti Dance and Music Academy students of Kumud Savla performed fusion dances to popular vintage songs. Punjabi gidda (folk dance by ladies) led by Chinti Bali brought the seniors on their toes on the dance floor, with the Gujarati garba group led by Pallavi Patel close on their heels.

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The singers.

The grand finale was the melodious repertoire of Bollywood songs by Atlanta’s great singers Mohan Lal, Sunny Sachdev, Chandrika Narayan, Rohan Ullal, Anita Gupta, Pankaj Bhargava, and Meenal Shrotiya. Having arrived as early as 5 pm, many seniors were tired but not willing to quit even as late as midnight.

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The volunteers.

To a certain extent, each generation raises the next one, improving quality of life and advancing social justice. It has been an exhilarating walk down the road for SCP over the past 20 years. The journey continues with an upbeat spirit. We owe much of what we now have to the sacrifices made by those who came before us. We rededicate ourselves in service of the elderly with respect and gratitude.

—By Mahadev Desai, a member of SCP for the last 20 years

Website Bonus Feature

Photo Gallery by Vinod Karia:
https://goo.gl/photos/MqBd8nr8BbHvEz3W7

Thanks:
Decorations by Sushma Patel of 5th Season, delicious dinner catered by Ashiana, AV and sound by Pankaj Bhargava and Sunny Sachdeva, printing by Sanjay Pandya of Davis Printing, video by Anwar Ajmeri of TV Asia, and photography by Vinod Karia. Air India graciously gave a ticket for auction, myriad of door/raffle prizes were given by Ruby Beauty Center, Vinod Photography, Bhulabhai and Sushila Patel, 5th Season, Chinti Bali, Global Mall, Jewelry by Suhagan, Seva Adult Care, and many others. Sponsors were too many to name; major ones included media, Drs. Lucky and Shabnam Jain, Pramod and Anju Mathur, Vikas and Nisha Kapil, Sanjeev and Chandana Chopra, et al.

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The sponsors.



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