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COMMUNITY | News Briefs: MAY 2011

Sathya Sai Baba Dies
Bengali New Year Celebrated
ASATA Summer Camp
Navaratri Celebrations
Cricket Fellowship

Sathya Sai Baba Dies


Sathya Sai Baba

Spiritual figure, philanthropist, and educator Sathya Sai Baba, whose message of universal love and brotherhood attracted millions of followers across the world passed away at the Sathya Sai hospital at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh, India on April 24. He was buried with full state honors as over half-a-million people gathered to witness the ceremony.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said about Satya Sathya Sai Baba that he was a spiritual leader who inspired millions to lead a moral and meaningful life even as they followed the religion of their choice.

About eighty four years ago, on November 23, 1926, Sathya Sai Baba was born as Sathyanarayana Raju to Eswaramma and Peddavenkama Raju Ratnakaram in the village of Puttaparthi which fell under Madras Presidency of British India. As a child, Raju was described as “unusually intelligent” and charitable. He was exceptionally talented in drama, music, dance and writing, and was an avid composer of poems and plays.

He was described by his devotees as a human incarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi who was a spiritual saint and miracle worker. In 2011, he was listed by the Watkins Review as one of the 100 most spiritually influential people in the world. In return, Sai Baba used the fame to establish schools, colleges, university, hospitals, and many other charitable institutions in India and all over the world. Sai Baba had millions of followers worldwide in about 170 countries.

Sai Baba did many miracles including showering of vibhuti (holy ash) and other objects such as rings, necklaces and watches out of thin air. As with any famous person, Baba had his share of skeptics who thought he was just doing tricks where as people who believed in faith and God felt these were signs of divinity.

Sathya Sai Baba will be remembered for his goal to serve mankind irrespective of caste, creed, color, and religion. Sai Baba is also respected for setting up free world-class educational and health institutions as well as for bringing drinking water to areas and villages where water was not available.

— Pavan Maheshwari

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Bengali New Year Celebrated


Kids performing in Davis, Calif.

The Sacramento area’s diverse ethnic makeup includes over 150 Bangladeshi and Indian-Bengali families which have made it a tradition to gather together at an annual Boishakhi Mela (New Year Festival) put together by the local community and a group called Ananadamela. This year the Boishakh event was held on April 9 in Davis, Calif.

Bengal is a land of vivid colors. The green of the landscape there contrasts with the golden marigold flowers giving “Sonar Bangla” (Golden Bengal) its uniqueness. Both there and at this event the women and children in white, red and golden attire livened things up and the sweet smell of fine food dominated the packed hall upon entry. Jhal Muri, a spicy treat of rice crisps, home-made Chomchom (it was great), Rosogolla, Paan and Ilish Maach (Hilsa Fish) and Bhat were being consumed in large quantities. The only thing missing was the “Mishti Doi” or date palm yogurt, but nevertheless the cuisine available was excellent.

The celebration of Bengali New Year 1418 went on in full swing with children performing on stage to some lively music.  Tagore’s  “Esho He Boishakh” (Welcome New Year) is a must at this program. So are his other Rabrindra Sangeet and not to forget the Nazrul Geeti by Qazi Nazrul Islam. Song, music and dance entertained everyone as both the children and adults gave spirited performances.

In closing, a suggestion or two to local Bengalis who want to share their culture and engage in outreach into the mainstream. Next year, an occasional English translation of what is going on might benefit to non-Bengali visitors and a bigger venue might not hurt either. Shubho Nabo Barsho, a Happy Bengali New Year from California’s capital city!

— Ras H. Siddiqui

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Summer Camp

The Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA), an organization working to educate, organize, and empower Bay Area South Asians will hold the first Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS), a four-day leadership camp for youth of South Asian heritage who are seeking to learn about progressive issues, gain organizing skills, connect with other South Asian activists, and develop themselves into leaders.

The all-inclusive camp will provide space for young people to learn skills on how to be a social activist, as well as learn about issues affecting the South Asian community both locally and globally. South Asian American teenagers from across the San Francisco Bay Area will be attending this meet, according to a press release from the group.

The release further adds — BASS has been developed by a highly skilled volunteer collective of South Asian American organizers and activists looking to give back to the community by supporting the growth of young leaders.

BASS is open to youth of South Asian heritage ranging in age from 14 to 19 years old. The camp costs $50, which covers all housing and food expenses for four days and three nights. Held in the beautiful Center for Third World Organizing Training and Retreat Center (often described as the CTWO Mansion), the intense camp will cover a wide range of issues such as creative arts and action, racial profiling, Hip Hop revolutionaries, and environmental justice. An important component of the curriculum will be a look back at the 100 years of history of South Asian Bay Area student activism.

Youth interested in applying for BASS can visit the website at http://www.solidaritysummer.org/

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Navaratri Celebrations


Balaji Temple priest performs a Homa during the Navaratri celebrations.

The Balaji Temple in Sunnyvale, Calif. held a week-long Navaratri celebration from April 4-12, that marked Ugadi, Sri Ganesh Abhishekham, Tulsidas Goswami Ramayana recital, and Rama Nama Taraka Homa performed by Swamiji and devotees.

The celebrations began with Ganesh Abhishekham and was followed by a discourse by the priest. Ganesh Abhishekam was performed by Parthasarathy and Ram Koteshwara Rao. In the evening there was Aarti and Mahaprasadam.

A recital of Tulsidas Goswami Ramayana was led by temple devotees Pushpa Dhar, Mohinder Shati, Kavita Rajesh, Sumati Ravi and Padawati Gotapatti and others on all days of the week-long celebration.

The last day was Ram Navami – Swamiji performed Sri Rama Nama Taraka Homa which was attended by many devotees despite being a work day. The event was concluded with the Aarti.

— Rajendra Narurkar

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Cricket Fellowship

Rotary Club of Cupertino took the lead in establishing the first chapter of the International Fellowship of Cricketing Rotarians (IFCR) with the help of California Cricket Academy. Rotary celebrated Fellowship day on April 27, by introducing cricket to their members.

Coaches and volutneers of California cricket academy setup the field and provided instruction to over 50 participants. Event began with a lunch meeting and  Hemant Buch, Founder and trustee of California Cricket Academy and Past chairman of USACA Western region, gave a presentation on the Spirit of Cricket.

Raj Patel, founder of East West Sports store located in Sunnyvale, California donated cricket equipment for the event. Ajay Athavale, president of CCA offered to host future Rotary cricket training and events at the CCA facilities.

Rotary Club of Cupertino has been a supporter of cricket events in Cupertino.

In 2010, Rotary Club of Cupertino hosted a dinner reception for all the National Women tournament participants.  For last five years they have been helping CCA during National Junior tournaments.

“An interest in cricket is natural,” said Beverly Lenihan, President of the Rotary Club of Cupertino, “given the ethnic makeup of our Club and our Community. We are proud to be the United States host of the Rotary International Cricket Fellowship, joining with like-minded Rotarians in the US and around the world.” She also officially launched the Cricket Fellowship by proudly cutting the special Cricket Cake made for the occasion.

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