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IANH Diwali Festival – A Huge Success

Meghna Chandra

The India Association of New Hampshire held its 2007 Diwali Festival on Oct 27 in Nashua North High School. More than 650 people attended and celebrated Diwali through this cultural extravaganza of music, dance, culture, fashion & food from India.  

Welcoming the guests, Mr. Prithvi Kumar, the President of the association, reminded the audience of the spirit of the Diwali festival, which lay in “caring for one another.” He remarked that, “ IANH is a grass roots organization committed to excellence in community service achieved through hard work and perseverance.” He stressed the unity and hard work of volunteers so crucial to achieving the goals of IANH and what it stands for- “service and community spirit”. He opined that because of this increased support from volunteers, IANH is expanding its services by cooking in the various area soup kitchens, conducting an annual cultural event to entertain senior citizens, holding education contests, organizing regular meetings for self-development of young people and partnering with Saheli, Boston to offer free classes to the needs persons in the community.

Ms. Monika Deshpande and Mr. Pratheek Kalyanapu made charismatic and jovial emcees. Their lively banter entertained the audience. Members of the Executive Board and Youth Group also made brief messages during the program of their respective group happenings The cultural events of the evening started with a welcome dance titled “Salutation to Lord Shiva” choreographed by Ms. Neha Parikh and performed by Karishma Manchanda, Sraavya Pradeep, Priyakruti Gavini, Harini Venkat and Anjana Govindaraj. All performers made adorable figures on stage and performed very well, considering their tender age. Up next was a dance medley “Jhoom Barabara & Vandemataram” choreographed and performed by Ms. Lakshmi Manasa on roller skates accompanied by Rishi Tadi, Roshan Tadi and Jishnu Siddabathula. She displayed her impressive world-class skating skills and an exceptional Indian patriotism. Next item was a Bollywood dance number “ Maine Payal hai Chankayi” choreographed and performed by Ananya Jha, Alisha Jha, Shivani Shrestha, Sasha Shrestha, and Shweta Nair. A highly energetic Garba style dance followed “Dum Dum Dhol Baaje” choreographed by Subhashini Raman and Nita Shastri and performed by Subhashini Raman, Nita Shastri, Chandana Srinivasan, Himshika Bajpai, Anita Karthik, Rashmi Pradeep, Rahashree Ravi, Praharshitha Chetan, Priyanka Prasad and Kavyashree Mallana. Next item was a traditional Rajasthani dance “Ghumar re” choreographed by Ms. Jasmine Shah and performed by Reena Schrubb, Rajal Schrubb, Nikita Yarram, Alisha Shah, Shyna Patel and Nidhi Bhagat. These beginning dances commenced an evening characterized by the vibrant colors India.

Ms. Barinder Ahluwalia, Chair of Public Service Committee, explained in detail the public service activities of IANH Volunteers in cooking and serving in Soup Kitchens in Nashua & Manchester. She also requested that more members join the ranks of IANH members who give back to the less fortunate in the community that provided them with opportunities to realize their aspirations. Dr. Puneetha Palakurthi gave a thorough account of new initiative of IANH offering free classes in partnership with Southern New Hampshire’s Nashua Center and Saheli, Boston. She further added that these sessions will focus on computer literacy and use of the Internet; English communication skills, and immigration/naturalization documentation support. The classes will be held on every Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm in SNHU’s Nashua Center.

The dances resumed with two energetic dances, medley of “Megha re Megha and Barso re Megha” and ”Khaike paan Banaraswala and Pardesiya yesach hai piya” which were choreographed by Ms. Neha Parikh and performed by Shravani Balaji, Kuhu Wadwa, Smriti Rao, Natasha Kumar, Saloni Mahapatra, Srishti Sadhir, Siddhartha, Tejas Shroff, Bhargav, Rishi Mallik, Gurbir and Ved Vyas. Ms. Parikh once again demonstrated her Bollywood-standard talent for choreography, as the dances held all the spicy charm and josh of Bollywood. The next item was a dance in praise of Lord Ganesha “ Deva ho Deva Ganapathi Deva” choreographed by the veteran choreographer of the Nashua area, Ms. Jasmine Shah. It was performed by Bhumi Shah, Pradhi Patel, Aditi Kulkarni, Shivani Patel, Sumanya Kumar, Shefali Mangatani and Tamanna Assarpotta. Ms. Sheetal Dwarak, the featured artist for the evening performed three Bharata Natyam items starting with “Alaripu” and following it with a fusion dance of Hindustani Classical and Bharata Natyam and with a final climatic item of “Thillana.” She moved the audience to experience rasa, bhava and abhinaya. She used her beautiful and expressive face to display her mastery of abhinaya. Her passion for perfection and involvement in Bharatanatyam was evident in each of her performances.

Pratheek Kalyanapu, the able leader of IANH – Youth Group, gave a detailed account of the achievements of youth in Indian community. He mentioned some of the activities to be taken up by the Youth Group in the coming year such as critical reading, creative writing, public speaking, leadership development and community service. While giving a list of activities planned for the year, he requested parents to encourage their children to be involved with youth group activities.

The dances resumed with “Beedi Jalayile” from a Bollywood hit movie Omkara and choreographed by the talented Ms. Neha Parikh and performed by seasoned dancers Amritha Mangalat, Meghna Chandra, Sathvika Reddy and Lekha Nair. The dance was performed daringly, but tastefully considering the racy subject matter of the song, and the audience was soon clapping and whistling at the performers’ enthusiasm. This was followed by a dance performed by Ashruthin Patel, Samata Patel, Sidhi Salvi, Saniya Dhah, Monica Gandhi, Tamanna Gandhi, Anisha Mistry, Chahiti Assarpotta, Neomi Patel and Serena Patel which was choreographed by Ms. Jasmine Shah. Another dance medley followed choreographed by Lakshmi Manasa and performed by Mounika Talluri, Harika Talluri, Sahaja Surapaneni and Varsha Pagidi. This was followed by a dance “Dhadak Dhadak” choreographed by Ms. Jasmine Shah and performed by Ananya Venkatesan, Priya Raval, Druva Ramani, Druti Ramani, Hennah Prasad, Anvitha Kachinthaya and Tanisha Assarpotta.

Prof. Tej Dhakar, the Secretary of IANH, spoke briefly about the upcoming 2008 Education Bee Contests and Math Workshops. He summarized the previous experiences of the competitions, he invited the parents and other members to volunteer to help IANH coordinate these positive, community building contests.

The dances resumed to enthrall the audience. Ms. Neha Parikh choreographed the next item ”Mohe chhedo naa nanda ke lala” which was performed by Shreya Eapur, Karthi Mahendrakumar Deendayaal , Khushi Mallik, Manasi Desai, Meera Thadiyil, and Sattvika Dabbi with Sridevi-style aplomb. Ms. Sheetal Dwaraka choreographed next item “Style Style” by Siddharth Ganguri, Pranav Gopan, Bhanu Kappala, Srimanth Kumar, Pranav Prabhala, and Anish Vedantam. Another item “Odhani” choreographed by Ms. Jasmine Shah and performed by Ashka Kamdar, Anishi Ruvala, Richa Ruvala, Tanvi Wattal, Nikita Sachde, Sphurti Jonalgadda, Poornima Patel, Janki Patel, Krishna Patel, and Alisha Patel. The evening ended spectacularly with Sheetal’s dance medley “Chandamama” performed by Bhavana Kaki, Sravani Kumar, Anjitha Radhakrishnan and Siri Tadi.

Ms. Karthi Chandra, Vice-President of IANH offered the closing address and the vote of thanks for the evening’s events. She thanked all the people involved, especially the youth volunteers and the emcees for the evening. Ms. Dwarakanath thanked a team of volunteers with adults and youth who had worked tirelessly to make the program a huge success.

A team of fifty plus volunteers split between the youth group and adults worked together as one team in making the event a success. I received complements from several guests who attended the event. They praised our management style, coordination between groups, especially the youth group completely taking charge of the assigned roles. In summary, we set an example of good team work where adults and youth volunteers worked together-----There was a professional touch in the way in which the youth group members communicated in making sure of the availability of resources in a timely manner. The adults blended very well with the youth members in providing valuable guidance while letting them take the responsibility. They quickly learnt to communicate using the radio like professionals. Mohan trained the youths to set up and operate audio system. Some of them were on their feet for the duration without taking a break. – Prithvi Kumar

In addition to the cultural programs the audience also participated in “Save Savitha Campaign” and more than 45 people signed up for the bone marrow drive. Shazia Mujeeb and Nandita Agarwal spread out a wide array of Indian eye candy- the latest and loveliest jewelry and clothing fashions. Food and Fashion, Global flavors, Gurnam’s catering provided those attending a taste of delicious Indian food from various regions of India.

The cultural events of the evening were followed into the night by a vigorous dandia dance with the music arranged by Ravi Singh. The audio system was very efficiently managed by the IANH Youth group members.

The India Association of New Hampshire Diwali festival once again served to build a sense of community. Indians from all over New Hampshire experienced a unique smorgasbord of Indian culture, whatever state they may have been from. The Association, now a well oiled machine, addressed problems from the past years, such as lighting and audio, and promoted the Indian Youth by involving youth group members in the management of the event. Their maturity and hard work brought nothing but praise from all those attending the event. The dandia and garba events were a spectacular end to the night as revelers danced until near midnight to beloved Punjabi remixes and Bollywood dance numbers. However, of Diwali 2007, it’s most important to remember the remarkable work of the India Association of New Hampshire and the sense of unity promoted by its members.

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