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Joyous Diwali celebrations by seniors

By Mahadev Desai
December 2018
Joyous Diwali celebrations by seniors

 

(Left) Grandaughter Shivani and daughter Bhargavi celebrate Arunaben (center)’s birthday. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)

The Senior Citizen Program (SCP) celebrated their annual Diwali with great joy and enthusiasm at the Garden Plaza, Norcross, Georgia on Sunday, November 11, 2018. Pujya Swami Adhyatmanandaji, President of Sivananda Ashram, Ahmedabad, India, and a distinguished yoga teacher, attended as part of his extensive tour of the U.S. and Canada. He was accompanied by Atlanta host and India Tribune's Bureau Chief and journalist Ravi Ponangi.

The stage was elegantly decorated with flowers, diyas, and a picture of Goddess Laxmi. Executive Director Raj Razdan welcomed all, especially acknowledging sponsors Vikas and Dolly Verma (who could not be present this year) for their financial support every year since the inception of SCP in the mid-nineties.

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(Left) Arunaben felicitates Swamiji. (Photo: Ravi Ponangi)

Swamiji lit the diya and addressed the gathering. His remarks, interspersed with humor, were delivered in Hindi and Gujarati and were about the festival of Diwali. The festival commences with vakbaras (not vaghbarash as many Gujaratis are used to saying!—(laughter). Vak means vani (voice) when Goddess Saraswati is invoked. The day reminds one to control one's speech: speak truth and use sweet words, avoiding bitter words and taunts. The following day is Dhan teras when one performs Laxmi pooja. In life, one needs money, but money is only a means to an end. Swamiji said that his guru used to say, “Spend, spend, spend, and He (God) will send, send, send. Use money for deserving causes. Be compassionate.” Dhanteras is a symbol of annual renewal, cleansing, and an auspicious beginning for the next year.

During the festival, cleaning, renovating, and decorating homes and workplaces is important, but more important is getting rid of the negativity from one's mind. Perform seva (service). Protect the environment. Be self-reliant. Entertain positive thoughts. Light up your inner selves. Then every day will be a Diwali for you, said the Swami.

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(Right) Pallaviben Patel and Hina Ferrell dancing. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)

The program was emceed by noted artist, shayar, and shairi singer, and a fellow senior, Ujjagar Singh Wassan, who recited a few of his favorite shairis, and Janu Wassan.

While the attendees were enjoying appetizers, Ramesh Shah, Kokilaben, Chandan Ghambhir, Srikanth Parikh, Kishore Chavda, Monali Thakur, Nirupama Masse, and Anita Parikh took turns to entertain them with vintage Bollywood hits and with uplifting bhajans, shairis, poems, and jokes.

Volunteer Minesh Modi was welcomed back and a minute's silence was observed as a mark of respect for his recently deceased mother.

Pallaviben Patel read her poem “Murli veran thai” and then teamed with her student Hina Ferrell in a scintillating jugalbandi dance to the song “Murli bairan bhai.”

Isha Goyal and an Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation's representative provided a brief overview of EVF and its upcoming fundraiser “Sanskriti, a Bollywood Journey.” Discounted tickets were available for seniors.

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Dhirubhai Naik thanks Seniors for their blessings on his 95th Birthday. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)

The cheerful cake cutting ceremony marked the birthdays of members born in November. Dhirubhai Naik celebrated his 95th Birthday, recalling that on his 90th birthday, SCP’s “blessings gave me a push to reach 95, so I seek your blessings again to reach 100! ... my birthdays have been celebrated in Ahmedabad, in Detroit, etc., but nothing compares to celebrations by Raj's Senior Citizens Inc. in Atlanta.​” The gathering cheerfully sang “Tum jeeyo hazaron saal” as a cake was cut to mark the birthdays of Sharad Shah, Harshad Shah, Ashwin Patel, Bhulabhai Patel, and Naresh Modi. This was followed with a second cake-cutting ceremony for Meena Patel, Aruna Patel, Suman Parikh, and Khema Ganju. Grandaughter Shivani and daughter Bhargavi celebrated Arunaben’s birthday.

The program ended with a delicious Diwali lunch. In the tradition started by Vikas and Dolly Sharma, seniors were presented Rajbhog Sweet’s mouthwatering ladoos for Diwali.

Website Bonus Feature

Video:
Pujya Swami Adhyatmananda Ji attends Senior Citizen Diwali Program in Atlanta
By indiatribune
Published on Nov 15, 2018
https://youtu.be/a3FIHsS3pKY

Thanks to
Volunteers Arunaben Patel and her daughter Bhargavi and granddaughter Shivani, Shashi Sidhaye, Isha Goyal, Chinti Bali, and Minesh Modi, and many others for their commitment and devotion in service of the elders of the Georgia community.

SCP provides seniors a free forum for camaraderie and the exchange of knowledge. Monthly events include picnics, movies, celebrations of Valentine Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, India’s Independence Day, religious events like Mata ki Chowki, etc. SCP’s devotion and service to the community is highly commendable and indeed appreciated! The journey continues with high spirits and undiminished resolve!



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