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    Thousands Attend Pashchimi Durga Puja | Multiple Celebrations at Deedee’s Restaurant |
    Dance for Charity | New Temple | Annakut | Commendation | GOPIO Objects

    Thousands Attend Pashchimi Durga Puja

    Priest Ramen Chakrabarti offers Prasad at the Durga Puja celebrations hosted by Pashchimi. [SWAGATO BASUMALLICK photo]

    San Francisco Bay Area-based organization Pashchimi hosted elaborate Durga Puja festivities at the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple Oct. 17-21. In a few years, Pashchimi has distinguished its Durga Puja festivities by meticulous recreation of the elaborate rituals of the Puja itself as well as the attendant cultural activities that has made their Durga Puja draw several thousands of devotees each year.

    This year, the number of attendees started with over 250 on sashti Oct. 17 and grew to over 500 on the evening of saptami the following day. Over 1,000 people attended Oct. 19 on maha ashtami morning, which grew to over 3,000 in the evening. Over 5,000 attendees attended maha nabami and maha dasami festivities Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, organizers said.

    This year’s cultural program included a performance by Roopa Ganguly and Crazy Cousins, where Ganguly was accompanied by singers Dibyendu Mukherji and Sona Malik and Jay on drum, Subhendu on keyboard and Jay on guitar.

    In addition, Kolkata-based newscaster and elocution artist Satinath Mukhopadhyay and Manipuri dancer Dr. Sruti Banerjee also performed. Kolkata-based band CrossWindz was also present.

    Traditional Durga Puja events like dhunuchi naach and sindoor khela as well as traditional Bengali drums, the dhak and dhol, recreated the ambiance of a tradition aarti in Bengal. A sharod mela presented a number of stalls that sold a variety of items to attendees.

    “You have recreated Kolkata Puja in the heart of Silicon Valley,” Mukhopadhyay said.

    Organizers of this year’s Puja festivities were: Chandreyi and Bibek Das, Rima and Jayadev Chackravorty, Runa and Animesh Chatterjee, Rupa and Manoj Chavan, Snigdha and Suvrangshu "Suv" Ghosh, and Paramita and Nilendu Saha.

    Pashchimi Executive Members are: Archita Sengupta, Chhandosi and Kiran Kulkarni, Soumi and Souvik Ghosh, Shanku Mukherjee, Shabasti Gupta, and Gopa.

    Multiple Celebrations at Deedee’s Restaurant

    Well wishers and friends of Deedee’s at the 15th anniversary celebrations of Deedee’s restaurant. [SHASHI DESAI/DREAMSNAPS photo]

    Over 150 friends and well-wishers including Indian American businessmen, lawyers, IT engineers and doctors gathered at Deedee’s’ restaurant in Mountain View, Calif., to celebrate the restaurant’s 15 years of service to its patrons as well as the launching ceremony of two new books.

    Well over a decade ago Daksha Desai, affectionately known as deedee (elder sister), with her husband Suketu, began a small take-out lunch service with three tables in a small unpretentious strip mall. It was a first-of-a-kind of home-cooked Indian vegetarian food with reasonable price for young Indian Americans of Bay Area.

    As the restaurant has grown, Deedee’s has been a notable sponsor of Indian American plays, dance group and cultural events as well as charity organizations of the Bay Area. Suketu and Daksha Desai are very active in supporting fundraising events organized by groups like Jeena, Chinmayanand Mission, Bay Area Vaishnav Parivar, India Cultural Association and Charitable Care Foundation with Deedee’s food and services.

    Deedee’s present location will be demolished and it is moving Dec. 13. In the meantime Daksha and Suketu Desai have asked patrons to continue placing food orders by calling Deedee’s at (650) 967-0568.

    At the half-day-long event, two books were launched. One was “Lifting the Mist,” a simple, easy guide to the complex U.S. welfare system for elderly immigrants and their families written by Allen, Texas-based Malti Patel. The other book was “Tales Told by Dada,” the memoirs of Harikrishna Majmudar, affectionately known as Dada, written by Jagdish Sindhi.

    — Pravin Desai

    Dance for Charity

    Dance company Sanhiti presenting Poikal Kudurai , a South Indian folk dance.

    Dance company Sanhiti, in association with the charity organization Udavum Karangal, presented “Salangai to Salsa,” an evening of colorful dances featuring over 40 performers, on Oct. 28 at the Saratoga High School in Saratoga, Calif.

    Sanhiti was founded by three Bay Area-based women: Janani Narayanan, who is passionate about promoting Indian folk dances; Priya Krishnamoorthy, who is learning hip-hop and salsa; and Roopa Parameswaran, who is a musician and a theatre buff with the group Naatak. All three are trained Bharatanatyam dancers and want to support charitable causes with their work. Udavum Karangal, which literally means “helping hands,” is an orphanage started in India in 1983, which supports 2,000 residents with a mission to help the destitute and orphans.

    The show began with a Bharatanatyam performance by Janani, Priya and Roopa which was an invocation to Nataraja by performing Pushapanjali followed by a dance in praise of Ganesh.

    The evening’s performances cut a wide swath, representing a wide variety of dances such as semi-classical, country folk, Western, Arabian, salsa, swing and folk dances of India. Performers also danced to popular songs from superhit Tamil movies.

    The evening ended with “The Village Carnival” which showcased five folk dances from South India. These included Karagam-style dancing while balancing a decorated pot on one’s head; a Kaavadi-style dance with fast-beat dancing while carrying a yoke on one’s shoulder; Kolattam, a dandia-style dance with a pair of sticks; Poikal Kudurai, where dancers were on stilettos inside huge dummy horses and danced gracefully; and Silambaatam, a martial art form using a five-feet-long stick as part of the dance movement.

    Sudha Jamthe


    New Temple

    Sri Selvam Siddhar has established the Hindu Temple of West Georgia to serve devotees in the west and south of Georgia, according to an announcement. Siddhar bought 104 acres of land to establish the temple.

    Already, the Hindu Temple of Georgia, which he established, is functioning to serve Hindu devotees in east and north Georgia.

    “There is no Hindu Temple in the entire Carrollton County,” he said in an announcement. “A lot of Hindus live there. They don’t have a proper temple to worship.”

    Consequently, Siddhar has constructed a temple in Carrollton, Ga. Specially trained priests from the Agasthiyar Siddhar Peetam, will offer services. Siddhar is also going to construct a Shiva Temple with 108 Shiva Images.

    The opening ceremony of the new temple took place Nov. 10. The address of the new temple is: Hindu Temple of West Georgia 2986, Highway 27 North, Carrollton , GA 30017.


    A vast array of a delicious traditional variety of foods, fruits with sweets arranged in tiers of steps in front of the idol of Krishna as Shrinath. [SHASHI DESAI/DREAMSNAPS photo]

    On first day of the beginning of the new year of the Vikram era, people go to the temple for their offering to the supreme deity and greet each other with saal mubarak.

    To mark the occasion Bay Area Youth Vaishnava Pariwar Nov. 17 organized their annual New Year Annakut Mahotsava. As in all Hindu temples Annakut was offered to the deities on this day. A vast array of delicious food was traditionally arranged in tiers of steps, in front of the Lord. The sweets are placed nearest to the Lord. As the tiers descend, other foods such as vegetable, pulses (dal) and fried savory foods with a symbolic of Mt. Govardhan cooked rice is placed in the center. BAYVP volunteer men and women began to arrange the Annakut under the able guidance of Pravinbhai Turakhiya from morning and finished before noon. The Annakut was opened for darshan after Aarti was offered by the BAYVP president Suresh Gandhi with his wife Sudha, son Somil, daughter-in-law Nirmal and newly born grand daughter Shreya. The Annakut was opened fro devotees after a thal kirtan was presented by Tracy, Calif., resident Ranchhodbhai Pandya. The Annakut was left for darshan for devotees till late in the evening, and then the items were taken down for distribution as prasad followed by a grand aarti.

    Several decades ago, Pushti Margiya Vaishnava Gujarati devotees celebrated annual Hindu festivals among themselves. With increasing numbers of Indians immigrating here, a volunteer group joined their hands to expand their social activities with the goal of preserving cultural, historical and religious values among the growing new generation children and to cater to a large number of adult and senior citizens. In 2001 with grace of inspiration of Vaishnava spiritual leader Goswami Drumilkumarjee 108 [Surat-Baroda], the Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Pariwar was established.

    BAYVP is in the process of acquiring the building previously occupied by the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Milpitas, Calif. It will be the first Vaishnava’s Haveli in the West Coast, and will be called Shrimaya Krishnadhaam, following the suggestion of Vaishnava Acharya H.H. Shri Indirabetiji “Jiji.”

    Pravin Desai



    The California Legislature Assembly has recently extended “special honors and highest commendations” to Sukh C. Singh, general secretary of the Indus Valley American Chamber of Commerce; Rashpal Pharwala, president, Punjabi Cultural Society of Sacramento, Calif.; and Samittar Singh Uppal, founder Indo American Cultural Organization Of U.S.A., according to a press release from Uppal.

    The awards were presented by Assemblymember Alan Nakanishi Nov. 26 at the state Capitol

    Nakanishi, who represents California’s 10th Assembly District commended the three community representatives.

    He said that winners of these awards have brought credit and distinction to themselves through their career and civic achievements and through their many activities, they have improved the quality of life within the local community and through out the state, and it is appropriate at this time to highlight their many accomplishments and extend to them special honors and highest commendations.


    GOPIO Objects

    In a statement issued Nov. 27, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin has objected to the actions by the Malaysia government and/or other entities deemed as violations of United Nations Article 2 on Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the universally accepted norms of civil society. GOPIO International also protests the actions of the Malaysia and/or other entities perpetrated against the ethnic population of Indian origin in Malaysia, targeting a selected ethnic group to deprive them of their lawful rights and guaranteed pursuit of livelihood in peaceful co-existence with other groups within Malaysia.

    “We view the current situation in Malaysia , denying the rights and freedoms to the ethnic population of Indian origin, with grave concern. We call on the Government of Malaysia to take all necessary steps to bring an immediate cessation of such actions and to guarantee the rights of the ethnic Indian population. We also petition the United Nations and the Governments of United States, United Kingdom and India , as well as the Commonwealth, to seek prompt remedial action from Government of Malaysia,” said Inder Singh, president of GOPIO International.

    “The actions of the government of Malaysia and/or other entities directed against ethnic Indian Origin population are deliberately perpetrated to deprive those citizens of their rightful place in the Malaysian society. The public humiliation of the ethnic population creates an impression of deteriorating social conditions in Malaysia, ” observed GOPIO International chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham. “Governments must not subvert the guaranteed rights of the people that suit its own motives and burden the entire society with fear and mistrust,” continued Dr. Abraham.



    The Art of Kashmir:
    Asia Society Exhibit

    The Asia Society is hosting the first-ever major Kashmiri art exhibition in New York. The exhibit presents 130 objects of exemplary quality, dating from the 2nd to the 20th centuries.
    A Siliconeer report.

    Crisis in Pakistan: South Asian Protest in the U.S.
    The global protest against the imposition of emergency in Pakistan is to restore the independence of the judiciary and the media, write Girish Agarwal and Sabahat Ashraf.

    The Power of Information: JAMA Study in U.P.
    Informing rural people of their rights can improve education and health services, but a lot more has to be done, writes Madhav Goyal.

    EDITORIAL: The Art of Kashmir
    NEWS DIARY: November
    EDUCATION: Harvard Initiative
    SUBCONTINENT: Season to Spend
    SOCIAL WORK: ICC Gala Banquet
    HERITAGE: Honoring Dalip Saund
    ENVIRONMENT: Global Warming: Role of Ethnic Media
    EDUCATION: NCLB: Bad for Teachers, Bad for Students
    COMMUNITY: Sir Syed Day in Bay Area
    HEALTH: Hazards of Alcohol
    BOLLYWOOD: Romancing with Dev
    RECORDING: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma
    COMMUNITY: Diwali & Annakut Festivals
    MUSIC: Habib Khan Concert
    TRAVEL: Through Swiss Eyes
    COMMUNITY: News in Brief
    BUSINESS: News Briefs
    AUTO REVIEW: 2008 Honda Element SC
    BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
    BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Aaja Nachle
    TAMIL CINEMA: Onbathu Roobai Nottu
    RECIPE: Sandesh
    HOROSCOPE: December

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