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Gujarat’s Golden Jubilee celebrated by Gujarati Samaj

By: Mahadev Desai
October 2010
Gujarat’s Golden Jubilee celebrated by Gujarati Samaj On September 11-12, 2010, the Gujarati Samaj of Atlanta (GSA) organized a Golden Jubilee “Swarnim Gujarat” Celebration for the 50th Anniversary of Gujarat State. Close to 2500 people attended the event at the Sardar Patel Bhavan, home of Gujarati Samaj, in Tucker. Messages conveying best wishes were received from the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi; Minister Nitin Patel; Gujarat Vidhansabha speaker Ashok Bhatt, and Executive Chairman of Swarnim Gujarat Celebrations, I.K. Jadeja.

On the sunny Saturday morning, Jayantibhai Patel of BAPs Shree Swaminarayan Mandir arrived with the commemorative swarna kalash sent from Gujarat by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Coordinator Ramesh Pandya described the Chharodi Gurukul run by Swami Madhavpriyadasji, and his other award-winning humanitarian services. Swamiji exhorted all to join in offering salutations to Gujarat in the famous words of poet Narmad, “Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat.” Gujaratis are known for making money, but also for their acts of philanthropy. It is the land of two Mohans: Dwarika’s Lord Krishna and Porbandar’s Mahatma Gandhi.

After a flag hoisting ceremony and a moment of silence for the 9/11 victims, the U.S. and Indian national anthems were sung, and special guests spoke.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh is the only Indian American to receive three significant awards: the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, and the Padma Shri. A video clip highlighted his medical career, community service, philanthropy, and his work for enhancing Indo-US relations. Dr Parikh said “Today is a day of pride for us?. Gujarat is a land of Gandhi, Ravishanker Maharaj, Morarji Desai, Sardar Patel, Dadabhai Navrojee, Vikram Sarabhai, Dhirubhai Ambani, Narsi Mehta and Kavi Narmad, to name a few.” As Chairman and Publisher of Parikh Worldwide Media Inc., he stressed the importance of promoting Gujarati culture and language, and appealed to the audience not only to read the Gujarat Times but also to contribute articles and poems.

Mr. Chandu K.Patel (CK) is president of Vishwa Umiya Patidar Parivar, president of National Federation of Indian-American Associations (NFIA), and founder of the Southern California Hotel-Motel Association. Patel said, “Gujarat’s 65% population lives in its 18,000 villages. When I saw the impressive model village in the exhibition section, it brought back memories of my early days in my small village in Gujarat. I applaud Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the rapid and progressive transformation of Gujarat’s villages in the past ten years. To give one example, through Jyotigram Yojana, all the villages have now been electrified with a 24 hour electricity supply. But a lot remains to be done. It is our duty to help the villages.”

Dr.Vithalbhai Dhaduk, Senior Vice President and Founding Partner of Core Pharma and a neurologist at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, continued, “I strongly urge you to adopt a village or a worthy village project and extend your help. Recently when I met Narendra Modi, he commended Gujarati Samaj for honoring Sardar Patel by installing his bust. He also [announced that there will be] a Police Unity Tour in Gujarat in 2011 when 50 Senior Police Officers from the U.S. and India will show their solidarity in the fight against terrorism by riding their bikes from Karamsad, the birthplace of Sardar Patel, to the BAPS Mandir in Gandhinagar.”

Arvindbhai Joshi is the Founder of the Academy of Indian Culture in Los Angeles, which has trained more than 1,000 artists in light, folk and devotional music and drama. He stressed the need to preserve and nourish Gujarati language and traditions. He recited a poem ‘Dil ma divo karo (Light a lamp in your hearts).’

Kanjibhai Patel, member of Rajya Sabha, a former minister in Gujarat, and in the National Executive Committee of BJP, lauded Narendra Modi’s leadership and his role in enhancing Gujarat’s stature.

The President of Gujarati Samaj, Vipul Patel said, “Gujarat has emerged as a model state in many ways. Its progress and achievements are envious to even some developed nations!” “Today’s Gujarat is tomorrow’s India.”

After 29 years, GSA is a robust Samaj with over 1000 family members. It was long time member and dedicated volunteer, Shree Ram Mangaldas Motibhai Patel (Mangalkaka)’s dream to install the bust of Sardar Patel in the Sardar Bhavan, and he has generously sponsored it. In a stirring speech, 88-year-old Mangalkaka paid tribute to the ‘Iron Man of India’ Sardar Patel, who played a major role in India’s struggle for freedom and later in forging a unified India from 565 princely states.

Ramesh Pandya recognized Atlanta’s performing arts promoter Mustafa Ajmeri, who is recovering from a serious illness. Pandya said that it was his dream that Gujarati Samaj ought to organize Golden Jubilee celebrations. Pandya also recognized Girish Patel (Mukhi), Vinod Kaswala and Rasik Bhimani for setting up the educational village exhibits, and past-President of Gujarati Samaj, Vinodbhai Patel, who has attended every event of the Samaj and helped in every possible way.

Two dance items were presented by Kumud and Sandeep Savla of Nritya Natya Kala Academy: the first was choreographed to a prayer by poet Narmad, and the second was a scintillating raas (Gokul aavo Girdhari). Gujarati Samaj ladies then performed a traditional form of garba known as tippani.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh and beaming donor Mangalkaka unveiled the bust of Sardar Patel, garlanding it and showering it with flower petals, to the beat of drums. Vinodbhai Patel and Girish Patel (Mukhi) got the 100 kilo bust by sculptor Dhruv of Ahmedabad to Atlanta. Navinbhai Patel arranged for soil from Sardar’s home to be placed underneath the bust. Gujarati Samaj Atlanta has the honor to be the first among organizations in the U.S.A. to install Sardar’s bust.

The exhibition section featured, on one side, panels displaying original pictures of Gujarat’s scientists, literary figures, saints, researchers, entrepreneurs and patriots, with quotes, poems, and other information underneath. On the other side was a replica of a village with huts, well, ox-cart, cradle, temple, musical instruments, cooking utensils, pots, rope swing, rope charpoy, spinning wheel, etc. Volunteers in costume acted as a tailor, cobbler, barber, etc.

An afternoon entertainment program and video were followed in the evening by Arvind Joshi and his troupe of Kirti Dave, Rekha Dave, Noopur Dave, Kirti Patel, Mayuri Patel, Harsh Thaker, Hemant Ekbote, Darshak Joshi, and Jayshree Gohil presenting a Geet Gurjari musical program with vintage songs, such as, “dhuni re dhakhavi,” “taari aankh no afini,” and “chhanu re chhapnu.”

The organizers at GSA were particularly happy and proud of the free admission for visitors to the entire event including the exhibitions, the meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as the entertainment.

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