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Inaugural Children’s Day a Rousing Success

January 2005
Inaugural Children’s Day a Rousing Success

A day of competition and fun to commemorate Nehru's love and reverence for children, promises to be a fine annual tradition for Atlanta's Indian-American children and youngsters.

Indian-Americans routinely see many cultural programs dedicated to our festivals such as Pongal, Ugadhi, Shankaranthi, Holi, Dussherah, Diwali, and India's Independence Day. However, one of India's most important days', Children's Day, is often forgotten. This idea of a day dedicated to children was first conceived by India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru ? to celebrate the happiness and joy that children bring to the world. Hence, Nehru's birthday, November 14th is remembered as Children's Day.

In Atlanta, this celebration was venerated with festivities and several competitions for a unique "Children's Day" on December 18th. Organized by a non-profit organization called N.A.S.H (National Association of Serving Hands), which is co-founded by Aishwarya Narendran and Archith Seshadri, and their musical counterpart, Sa-Ri-Ga-Me, this was the inaugural launching of Atlanta's first Children's Day program that was conducted for students from age 5 through 18.

The program started promptly at 10:30 with close to 100 participants arriving at the Meadowcreek High School cafeteria to confirm their pre-registered competitions. Since there were several competitions, the participants were informed to proceed to the respective venues with dance being conducted in the auditorium, speech and singing in the classrooms, and musical chairs, and lemon and spoon in the cafeteria. The essay competition participants were required to submit their entries a week earlier due to the volume of entries. Another competition was setup by "Math N Kids" where students competed in different mathematical brain teasers. The speech competition had several talented individuals courageously talking about Indian culture, and their future ambitions. The singing competition was stiff with a unique blend of Carnatic melodies with popular Bollywood numbers. The dance competition ranged from popular folk beats to "filmy" songs to Barathanatyam with a vivid display in terms of costume choices, and song selection.

Thilaga Vellaisamy and Revathy Seshadri generously catered food for the event that was sold at a nominal fee to help raise money for Indian orphanages. After lunch was served, the cultural program began at around 1:30. The program featured a fancy dress competition with the theme being Indian states or leaders. Nehru and Indira Gandhi were couple of the leaders portrayed. Aishwarya Narendran and Deepa Sreetal emceed the first segment of the program with Aishwarya invocating the chief guests of the evening, David Cassus of the state legislature, and Mr. Charles Alfin, a retired police captain and educator of non-violence and social change.

This was followed by a gala performance by Sa-Ri-Ga-Me, a new musical group with several young and talented artistes. The songs were carefully picked from slow paced A.R.Rahman numbers, to the fast and lively "It's the Time to Disco" performed by Deepa and Ragu Sivaraman. Archith Seshadri and Aishwarya Narendran rendered "Yeh Hasseen Wadhiyan" from Roja in three Indian languages (Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi). Ragu Raman and Aishwarya performed to the melodious Tamil song "April Madathil" from Vaali. A special children's performance by Swathi Mohan, Kamini Manivannan, and Akshaya Vijaykumar was appreciated by all who sang "Anjali Anjali" and "Ek Tu Hi Barosa" from Pukar. The musical score was strongly backed up by Ashwin Seshadri and Michael Austin with their innovative keyboard transitions.

A very talented Siddharth Kelam performed an outstanding Barathanatyam piece followed by Akshaya Murlidhar's rendition of a song from "Vasool Raja MBBS." Uma Murlidhar's students danced to Fanah and another popular Tamil folk song. While the audience was getting excited with the closing ceremony speech, all the participants were lined up on stage to find out whether or not their hard work earned them a winning trophy. The participants were surprised that all of them received awards for participation.

Some of the winners include Mahesh Balasubramaniam and Akshaya Murlidhar (1st and 2nd respectively for the essay on role models ? senior category), Vanya Srinivas and Rohit Munagala (1st and 2nd in the fancy dress competition), Supriya Sridharan and Ramya Ramakrishnan (1st and 2nd in the senior singing competition). Crystal Patrick's flawless rendition of Madhuri's "Maar Dala" from Devdas won her the first prize in the film solo section of the dance competition. Yathurshi Rajendra also did a spectacular barathanatyam solo piece titled "Vishnu Stuti," winning the classical solo portion of the dance competition. Archith Seshadri and Deepa Sreetal announced the winning recipients at the finale of the program, with Mr. Alfin presenting the trophies. The emcees thanked all the volunteers, judges, parents, and participants for helping make the program a huge success.

The program raised money through donations and hopes that this charity concert will be a footstep for other youth to follow and help their community through various volunteer and fundraising projects. "I enjoyed every moment that I was there; the music, food, competitions?" said Crystal Patrick, first place winner in the best solo film dance competition.


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