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COMMUNITY | News in Brief: September 2009

Cupertino Entrepreneur Running for City Council | Eid Celebrations in the South Bay | Artist to Visit | Fundraiser | Bathukamma Celebrations | Girl Child Day | GOPIO Convention | Hinduism Summit

Cupertino Entrepreneur Running for City Council

Mahesh Nihalani

Cupertino, Calif.,-based entrepreneur and activist Mahesh Nihalani has announced that he is running for office.

“I have decided to run for the Cupertino City Council in the election this November,” he said in his announcement. “I stand for people and principles and am going to work very hard to reach out to everyone in Cupertino with my message of ‘Keep jobs in Cupertino.’”

Nihalani came to the U.S. in 1994. He has over 30 years of working experience across Asia, Africa, Europe and America. He moved to Cupertino in the year 2000

A jeweler by profession, he started and now runs two jewelry stores, Jewels in Style and Laxmi Kamal Jewelers. He and his wife Kamal have two sons, Rahul and Gaurav.

“I have a proven record of community service with many local organizations including the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce, Cupertino Rotary, Organization of Special Need Families, City Veterans Memorial, Library Foundation, Senior Center, WVCS, FUHSD, CUSD and CEEF,” said Nihalani. “I am the initiator and chair for the Diwali Festival for the past seven years, which brings the whole city together to celebrate diversity and culture. I also initiated the Rotary Polio-Plus concert for eradication of Polio from the world. I am honored to have been recognized for this leadership by being given the 2003 Community Bridge award, the 2004 Asian Hero Award, the 2005 CREST award, the 2007 Citizen of the year and the 2009 Rotarian of the year award.”

Nihalani has already been endorsed by Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney, Cupertino City Council member Dolly Sandoval, past Cupertino mayors Richard Lowenthal, Barbara Rogers, Don Burnet, John Gatto and Phil Johnson.

Nihalani is chair, Housing Commission, City of Cupertino; volunteer, Cupertino Community Services; co chair, Cupertino Asian American Business Council; member, General Plan Task Force, City of Cupertino; and a board member of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce. He is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Cupertino.

For more information, visit: www.mahesh4council.com


Eid Celebrations in the South Bay

Part of the Eid congregation at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds organized by the South Bay Islamic Association in San Jose, Calif. [Ras H. Siddiqui photo]

Since its inception in 1997, the South Bay Islamic Association has been meeting the needs of Silicon Valley’s growing Muslim population. Eid offers a unique opportunity to Muslims together as huge numbers congregate for prayers, not to forget the social aspects of the occasion.

It was difficult to estimate the numbers present at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Sept. 20, but there were thousands of people. Adeel Iqbal opened the event. City council members, the local Police and Fire Departments, representatives from the board of supervisors and the San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed acknowledged the community’s valuable contributions to the area.

Council members Ash Kalra and Rose Herrera spoke of their personal experiences (having Muslim family members or hailing from Lucknow, India, as in the case of Ash). Mayor Reed took the opportunity to call the region a beacon of peace and prosperity because we know how to get along with each other here. He took pride in having the Muslim community amidst San Jose’s diversity. “Eid Mubarak,” he said.

SBIA president Shafath Syed mentioned how truly blessed we were living here.  Imam Tahir Anwar led the congregation in prayer. He stressed the need for continued spiritual cleansing even beyond Ramadan.

After Eid prayers, a great deal of social interaction and festivities followed with a special emphasis on entertainment for kids.

But in this economy, not everyone was in a position to celebrate. There are families in need even in Silicon Valley today, families who don’t have health care and are struggling to make ends meet. This writer was reminded of them while exiting the fairgrounds. So, on that somewhat somber note “Eid Mubarak” from San Jose, California, where the end of Ramadan and diversity blended well and were celebrated with an acknowledgement of the challenges that some still face.

— Ras Hafiz Siddiqui


Artist to Visit

The Consulate General of India, San Francisco, has announced the trip of prominent Indian artist Jatin Das to the San Francisco Bay Area. Das has been painting for more than 45 years. Born in 1941 in Mayurbhanj, Orissa, Das studied at the Sir JJ School of Art, Bombay.

In addition to being a professional artist, Jatin Das has lectured extensively at many art and architectural colleges and museums in India and abroad.  He is the founder chairman of the JD Centre of Art, which is being built in Orissa. Several of his
works have been donated to charity in India and abroad. 

Jatin Das has held more than 55 solo exhibitions and is well known in India and England. In July this year, he held a show and completed a mural at the Chelsea Arts Club in London.  

Das has also done several murals and sculpture installations, including a mural in the parliamentary chambers of the Indian legislature. He works in oil, watercolor, ink, graphics and conte. His works now feature in several public and private collections in India and abroad and have been auctioned by major international auction houses, including Sotheby’s Christie’s and Osian’s. 

Das had solo shows in India, Dubai and the U.K. from 2006 to 2009 and now he has mounted his first ever solo show in the United States from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20 at The Artist Alley Gallery in downtown San Francisco.



Dharmendra at a fashion show to raise funds for the Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation. [Gunjesh De photo]

The Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation’s 28th Annual Fundraising Dinner Sept. 20 at Marriott Long Island in New York presented a fashion show headlined by Bollywood star Dharmendra.

Sahil Collection’s fashion show was themed “Moulin Rouge” and it captured the excess and frenetic mood of 18th century Paris.

Dharmendra walked the ramp during the fashion show. He charmed the crowd with his dances and walked to the beat of his memorable song “Main Jat Yamla Pagla Deewana” from the film Pratiggya.

Also on hand was Bollywood actress/model Pooja Batra, who was dressed in a pink and fuchsia sari with black embroidery.

Extending support to the cause of cancer care, Dharmendra said, “Today I am here to represent the charitable foundation instituted by Sunil Dutt. This organization was a dream of Nargis Dutt, later materialized into reality by her husband, Sunil Dutt.

“Both Sunilji and Nargisji cherished me as a brother; they continue to hold a special place in my heart.”

Dutt gratefully recalled the support of the Dutts in his early days as a struggling actor, “In 1958, I came to Bombay for a talent contest. Sunil and Nargis Dutt selected my photographs in the final selection round and pronounced ‘He is the best hero for the industry’. And the rest, as you know, is history.”

Trishala, daughter of Sanjay Dutt, also joined Dharmendra. “This has been the best year so far for the foundation and we have raised 30 percent more money from last year,” she said.


Bathukamma Celebrations

Women celebrating Bathukamma in Highland Park, N.J.

About 250 families, including people of all ages, from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania participated in the Bathukamma celebrations at Donaldson Park in Highland Park, N.J.

Bathukamma Panduga (Bathukamma festival) is the biggest festival of Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. Bathuku means life and amma means mother. It is a festival to worship the “life giver,” the universal energy - Goddess Shakti. Bathukamma represents the glory of the patron goddess of womanhood – Maha Gauri Devi. Bathukamma festival is celebrated for nine days during Durga Navratri.

The day started early with everyone waking up early and collecting flowers for Bathukammas. This activity brought back memories from back home where children used to go to fields to collect various wild flowers like gunugu poolu, thangedu poolu and other domestic flowers like beera poolu and cutley poolu.

Celebrations started with lunch, which was a great feast, thanks not only to the people who prepared it, but also to restaurants who sponsored some dishes.

Bathukamma started at about 4:00 p.m. with women in traditional saris and colorful clothes with beautiful Bathukammas made of locally available flowers. Women danced around Bathukammas with Bathukamma songs.

Later the Bathukammas were bought to Raritan Lake shore and immersed in the lake. The woman ceremoniously prayed for the well being of their families.

New Jersey Assembly Deputy Speaker Upendra Chivukula addressed the gathering and offered them Dasara greetings.


Girl Child Day

On Girl Child Day Sept. 24, CRY – Child Rights and You America Inc. and its partner CRY in India submitted a charter of demands to India’s top decision makers, particularly to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, according to a CRY America press release.

“In India, the girl child faces four heinous crimes – feticide, child labor, child marriage and abuse. In addition, she suffers three key deprivations: she is deprived of an education, of the right to health and nutrition and the right to develop. These problems affect each and every one of approximately 200 million girls, in varying degrees of intensity,” said Shefali Sunderlal, president, CRY America.

Constitution and legislative safeguards in India including the Indian national policy on children, 1974 ensures that children are protected from all forms of violation of their rights.

“However, these have failed to make a dent,” said Sunderlal. “Despite a long tradition of women leaders from the grassroots to national level and a vibrant human rights movement, India has always lacked the political will to implement legislation and programs to provide girls with a level playing field, denied to them for no fault of theirs. The charter of demands will be submitted to 10 key decision makers, including Indian President Pratibha Patil, Minister of Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

After submitting the charter, CRY America will continue to engage with the public through online forums and public meets, to make sure the girl child remains high on the public agenda throughout the year.

For more information visit http://america.cry.org


GOPIO Convention

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (www.gopio.net), celebrated its 20th anniversary convention in New York Aug. 20 -23, according to a GOPIO press release. The conference drew wide participation by over 500 attendees from 20 countries. The Indian diaspora deliberated and evaluated GOPIO’s progress over the last 20 years, networked, exchanged ideas and connected with People of Indian Origin and Non Resident Indian delegates from around the world.

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in a message felicitated GOPIO for its contribution to the Indian diaspora movement. “GOPIO has emerged as a leading organization providing a unique platform to the vast Indian overseas community for promoting their interests and realizing their aspirations. It has contributed significantly in the process of engagement between the Government of India and the Indian diaspora. The bonds between the motherland and people of Indian origin across the globe are valuable and precious. It is my hope that through such events, they will continue to flourish.”

The convention was inaugurated Aug. 21 at the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia Hotel. On hand were Indian Consul General Prabhu Dayal; Basdeo Panday, former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and currently the opposition leader; Jagdish Shetter, speaker of Karnataka State Assembly; D.N. Srivastava, joint secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs; Bayney Karran , Guyana’s ambassador to the United States; Lord Diljit Rana. Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom; and other Indian American political leaders including Upendra Chivukula, deputy speaker of the New Jersey State Assembly. Former US Ambassador to India, Frank Wisner was the keynote speaker Aug. 21.


Hinduism Summit

The first ever Hinduism Summit (Hindu Dharma Sabha) in the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania tristate area will be held by the Forum for Hindu Awakening and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, according to a press release from organizers. The Hinduism Summit will be held Oct. 2 at the Marathi Vishwa Community Center in New Jersey.

“The Hinduism Summit aims to bring together Hindu leaders across the NJ-NY-PA tristate area to foster education about Hinduism,” the release added. “This Hindu Dharma Sabha follows the success of a recent similar Dharma Sabha in Virginia, , held by FHA, and over 100 such Dharma Sabhas held all over India by HJS.”

At this Hinduism Summit, Hindu leaders will speak on various topics. These would include understanding the unique spiritual science and scientific history of Hinduism, clearing misconceptions about Hinduism, living Hindu concepts in daily life and preserving the sanctity of Hinduism from denigration and distortion.



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EDITORIAL: The Myth of GDP Growth
NEWS DIARY: September
SUBCONTINENT: Tough Times for Ministers
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FICTION: Tales of a Haveli
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Infiniti QX56
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Wanted
FESTIVAL: Diwali Gift Suggestions
TAMIL FILM: Aarumugam
BUSINESS: News Briefs
COMMUNITY: Diwali in Cupertino
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