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COMMUNITY | News in Brief:

California Cricket Academy Marks Fifth Anniversary | BAPS Milpitas Celebrates Festival of Lights | Bollywood Bonanza | BAYVP Diwali | Grove Medal | SAMMA Summit | Mahindra-IAAC Film Festival | European Invitation

California Cricket Academy Marks Fifth Anniversary

Cupertino Mayor Dolly Sandoval reads a proclamation honoring the California Cricket Academy while CCA volunteers Ajay Athavale, Ram Varadrajan, Vijay Pradhan, Kinjal Buch, Hemant Buch, Mahesh Nihalani, Prem Suri and Zain Jeewanji look on. [Srinivas Murthy photo]

The California Cricket Academy will mark its fifth year anniversary this year by hosting first international U-15 championship between the U.S. and Canada U-15 teams during Thanksgiving weekend, according to a CCA press release.

Since its inception in 2003, the academy has grown from 23 players to over 150 players. In October 2008, academy completed its fifth annual Key Point Cup Tournament and organized an annual award function in Cupertino, Calif

Cupertino Mayor Dolly Sandoval gave a proclamation acknowledging the academy’s achievements over five years and its contribution and active participation in community activities like Diwali Mela, Lunar Parade and Rotary club fund raising events.

During the annual award ceremony, the CCA recognized players with outstanding performances during the recently concluded U-11, U-13 and U-17 G1G and Keypoint championship. CCA also recognized several sponsors and volunteers: Priya Pradhan, Zain Jeewanji, Mahesh Nihalani, Prashant Mehta and Himasnhu Vajir. 

“Five years ago, my wife Kinjal and I established the academy with the goal of taking cricket to schools in Bay area and start the first youth league in the country. We are proud that we have achieved amazing results,” said Hemant Buch, academy founder and chairman of the USA cricket Association’s western region chairman. “Now after five years, the academy has won national championships for last three years, total eight academy players have represented USA in international competitions, (CCA) has conducted tours of India and England, has organized (the) first ever interschool championship for middle schools in Cupertino and trained over 250 players.”

More information is available at the CCA Web site at www.calcricket.org.


BAPS Milpitas Celebrates Festival of Lights

Annakut or “mountain of food,” an elaborate offering to God made this year at the BAPS Milpitas temple.

Family unity was the main theme for Diwali and New Year celebrations hosted by the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Milpitas, Calif.

“Diwali is that time of the year when family, friends and relatives get together and strengthen their bonds through various festivities,” said Mohak Shroff, one of the event organizers.  “Preparations for the festivities begin months in advance. Devotees, young and old, sacrificed their time to help in creating decorations, food preparation, children’s Diwali celebration arrangements, as well as decorating the stage for the most significant ritual of Diwali, the Annakut.”

Annakut literally means “a mountain of food” and is traditionally offered to God to celebrate the beginning of the Hindu New Year.

“The preparation begins at 5.00 a.m. in the morning for us” said Ankit Soneji of the BAPS youth wing. “The vegetarian food is traditionally arranged in tiers or steps, in front of the murtis of God. The sweets are placed nearest. As the tiers descend, other foods such as vegetables, pulses and fried savories are arranged. A mound of cooked rice, symbolic of Mt. Govardhan, is placed in the center. Today over 900 food items have been offered to God.”

Devotees arrived continuously from early morning dressed in new shervanis and colorful sarees to see the beautifully adorned deities in the Mandir. The young touched the feet of the elders and sadhus and got their blessings. The first aarti of the New Year was performed at noon followed by prayers for world peace and well-being.

For more details, visit www.baps.org


Bollywood Bonanza

Zee TV is bringing to its audiences a special offering of Bollywood fare to mark the upcoming holiday season, according to a Zee press release.

“Grab a cup of coffee and curl your feet up as this holiday season Bollywood comes knocking on your television screens!” said the release.

“Home Theater” and “Ticket to Bollywood” are the two new properties that have been created for Zee Cinema and Zee TV and both of these are exclusive to Zee TV USA. “Keeping in mind both the entertainment needs of the consumers and the channel philosophy of providing non-stop entertainment to its viewers, blockbusters like Fashion, Taare Zameen Par, Race, Jodha Akbar Life in a…Metro, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Aamir, A Wednesday and many more are all set to open on Zee Cinema and Zee TV this holiday season,” the release added.

The movie screening begins starting Thanksgiving, with the premieres of the Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra starrer God Tussi Great Ho followed by Life in a…Metro starring Shilpa Shetty and Kay Kay Menon on Zee Cinema. Up next is the award winning and Academy award nominated movie Taare Zameen Par starring Aamir Khan and Darsheel Safary which premieres Nov. 30 on Zee Cinema.

“With this, Zee is all to set to welcome the New Year with full zest and make this holiday season a memorable one for all its viewers,” the release said. “Make space for an extra dose of Bollywood and grab your ‘Ticket to Bollywood.’


BAYVP Diwali

On first day of the Hindu New Year, devotees gather at the Shrimaya Krishna Dhaam temple of BAYVP in Milpitas, Calif. [Pravin Desai photo]

Devotees gathered at the Shrimaya Krishna Dhaam temple of the Bay Area Vaishnav Parivar in Milpitas, Calif., for Annakut Darshana and receive blessings through a pre-recorded video message from India by spiritual leader Vaishnava Acharya Goswami Indirabetiji.

Throughout the day, devotees from around the San Francisco Bay Area lined up for a glimpse of the deities and to offer a prayer to mark the Hindu New Year.

An astonishing variety of homemade vegetarian food and sweets known as annakut was offered to deities on the auspicious Diwali-Hindu New Year.

The temple glittered with hundreds of traditional diyas installed in front of hand-painted pictures of Guru Shrimad Vallabhacharyaji, Lord Krishna as Shrinathji and Yamunamharaniji.

A lively group of devotional singers led by Mita Vora performed throughout the week. Young children of Gujarati language classes of BAYVP presented a devotional skit “Why We Pray.”

Sunnyvale, Calif. city council member  Otto Lee attended the Diwali and Annakut celebration.

Pravin Desai


Grove Medal

Subhash Singhal

Fuel cell pioneer Subhash Singhal, director, fuel cells at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, received the 2008 Grove Medal for sustained advances in fuel cell technology. Dr. Singhal was presented with the medal by Lars Sjunnesson, chairman of the Grove Committee, at the opening of the 2008 Grove Symposium on Fuel Cell Science and Technology in Copenhagen, Denmark in Oct. 8, and gave the opening plenary presentation.

The medal is named for the Welsh judge, inventor and physicist, Sir William Robert Grove, who is credited for the invention of the fuel cell in 1839. 

Dr. Singhal has previously received several other awards for his contributions to fuel cell technology, including the American Ceramic Society’s Edward Orton Jr. Memorial Award in 2001; an Invited Professorship Award from the Japan Ministry of Science, Education and Culture in 2002; the Christian Friedrich Schoenbein Gold Medal from the European Fuel Cell Forum in 2006, and the Fuel Cell Seminar Award in 2007.

Singhal joined PNNL in April 2000 after nearly 30 years at Siemens Corporation (formerly Westinghouse Electric Corporation), where he led development of solid oxide fuel cell technology from a laboratory curiosity to fully integrated 200 kW power generation systems. At PNNL, Singhal provides senior technical, managerial and commercialization leadership to the laboratory’s fuel cell program. 

Dr. Singhal received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Singhal is a Fellow of four professional societies - American Ceramic Society, Electrochemical Society, ASM International, and American Association for the Advancement of Science - and a senior member of TMS, the Mineral, Metals & Materials Society.


SAMMA Summit

The board of directors of the South Asians in Media, Marketing and Entertainment Association

The South Asians in Media, Marketing and Entertainment Association hosted its summit at the Time Warner Global headquarters in New York recently. Over 200 industry leaders attended to learn about how South Asians are driving innovation and change in media, marketing and entertainment, how to reach the coveted South Asian demographic and the growing opportunities for South Asians and Indians in the U.S. and Indian media, marketing and entertainment industries. 

“The success of the conference and the caliber of speakers is a testament to the growing influence and relationships South Asians have in Hollywood and across the U.S.,” said Neal Shenoy, co-chair of the SAMMA Summit and managing partner of digital media venture development firm [212]MEDIA. “This year, we had participants from as far away as Mumbai and Los Angeles.”

The Indian entertainment and media industry is the second fastest growing in the world, according to Pradeep Guha, former CEO of one of India’s largest entertainment conglomerates ZeeTelefilms and former president of The Times of India Group.

SAMMA was founded in 2006 to network and promote the growing industry of South Asians in media, marketing and entertainment and to foster business and career development opportunities. The networking group has more than 1,000 members from across the business landscape from Fortune 500 global brands to start-ups ventures in the media, marketing and entertainment industries.

For more information, visit www.sammasummit.com.


Mahindra-IAAC Film Festival

Sooni Taraporevala, director of “Little Zizou,” speaking while Boman Irani and rest of the team looks on.

Richie Mehta’s Amal won the best film award, Sooni Taraporevala and Ashish Avikunthak won best director awards for Little Zizou and Shadows Formless respectively, with Taraporevala also winning the best screenplay award at the Eighth Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival, according to a press release from the organizers.

The five-day festival ended Nov. 9 night at the Walter Reade Theater with the premiere of Sooni Taraporevala’s Little Zizou. IAAC executive director Aroon Shivdasani gave closing night remarks followed by Mahindra Group senior vice president Prochiee Mukherji who spoke about the Mahindra-IAAC partnership. 

The festival kicked off Nov. 5 with the screening of Deepa Mehta’s Heaven on Earth.  Gala chairs Mira Nair and Shabana Azmi walked the red carpet.

A special event, “NY/Bombay: An Evening with Mira Nair & Suketu Mehta,” took place at the Times Center in which the two prominent Indo-American cultural figures discussed the connection between the two cities and its impact on the film industry.

Teri McLuhan’s The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace played at a special screening. Author Salman Rushdie and director Deepa Mehta announced their collaboration to write the screenplay and film Midnights Children next year.

Director Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire had its New York premiere.

The Indo-American Arts Council is a registered not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to showcasing, building awareness, and celebrating artists of Indian origin in the performing, visual and literary arts. 

Three years ago, Mahindra & Mahindra joined forces with the IAAC Film Festival by becoming the lead sponsor, changing the name of the festival to The MIAAC Film Festival. 

For more information, visit www.iaac.us.


European Invitation

Hindu priest Rajan Zed, who grew up in Punjab and worked in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, has been invited by European Parliament president Hans-Gert Pottering for a meeting to discuss Hindu issues and promote interfaith dialogue.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, will meet President Pottering in his Brussels office Dec. 10. This might be the first major formal visit of a Hindu leader to EP during the current European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Various other world religious leaders who visited EP as part of EYID include Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, Grand Mufti of Syria and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

Zed will also meet deputy head of the president's cabinet Ciril Stokelj. Pottering will list various achievements of EP during EYID in the areas of intercultural/inter-religious dialogue.

Zed has read the first Hindu opening prayer in United States Senate in Washington, D.C. during its 218 years history. He is one of the panelists for “On Faith,” an interactive conversation on religion produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com. He also recited historic first Hindu prayers in California, Arizona, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada Senates; Arizona House of Representatives and Nevada Assembly in the U.S.



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