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Hindu Heritage Day Mela 2023

Kunju Kashalikar

Hindu Heritage Day Mela 2023

Kunju Kashalikar


On a rainy afternoon on Saturday May 20, 2023, parking lots at the Marlborough Middle School were overflowing with cars. The hallways, cafeteria and auditorium were brimming with smiling faces and colorful Indian wear. One could hear a mix of English and many Indian languages. The reason was the vibrant Hindu Heritage Day (HHD), a celebration of the rich Hindu culture represented via arts, dances, music and food. HHD is organized by a group of dedicated volunteers on behalf of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) of America (VHPA).  Started in 1996, this event has grown and evolved every year and continues to be a wonderful gathering of the local community. HHD is back in-person, after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This event was a wonderful celebration, weaving new ideas with rich Hindu traditions.


The theme of this year’s HHD was Matritva or Motherhood. Matritva has many forms. It is one of the most powerful experiences and one of the most sacred bonds, the earliest and deepest relationship one will have. It epitomizes unconditional love, compassion, endless courage, nurturing all in one. Whether it is adopted mother like Ma Yashoda or the earth herself as Dharti Ma or the cow who gives us plentiful as Gau Mata or the divine as Devi Ma.


As mirrored in the awe of first-time attendees, bringing such a theme to life in the form of a mela (fair) was a remarkable feat. Indeed, it was a wonder how three simultaneously running components of the program - a cultural program, a bazaar of more than 30 booths, and food court with catered Indian favorites – were interwoven flawlessly to both give a mela vibe and highlight the major theme.


The cultural program, which featured more than 265 performing participants and numerous organizations, showcased the talents of renowned musicians and dancers as well as children of all ages. A variety of music and dance schools showcased their prowess with wonderfully composed and choreographed pieces. Students from Lexington and MetroWest Bal Vihars as well as the Bal Vidya Mandir at Shree Lakshmi Temple in Ashland presented wonderfully directed plays. Chinmaya mission’s shlokathon students recited Chapter Three of the Shrimad Bhagavat Gita and swayamsevaks of the HSS presented a patriotic Geet. Gopakuteeram presented Hari Katha, where story narration is interspersed with classical music and devotional songs. It was a pleasure to have students of Learn Quest Academy of Music (Rajesh Pai), Hindustani music Ensemble; Performing Arts of New England (Darshana Jani); Sri Kuchipudi Natyalaya (Sailaja Chaudhary); Triveni School of Dance (Neena Gulati); Ekta Dance Academy ( Ekta Jain), ISW ( Smita Manjrekar).

The MC’s Padmaja Bala and Anurag Dhavala kept the cultural program flow going. The cultural program was started by Shri K.G. Narayana and Shri Ashwini Mishra with a Shankh Naad. Anika Sivasankar and Navneet Sharma sang national anthems of USA and India. This was followed by Deep Prajwalan (lighting of the lamp) by Bala and Brij Garg and Charu and Kaushik Patel.


Dr Abhaya and Mrs Jaya Asthana recognized this years Sanskriti Saurabh Samman recipients, Dr Shashi & Dr Gopala Dwarkanath and Sushree Durgalakshmi Krishnan.

A new(er) entrant to the Hindu Heritage Day was the story telling contest. Stories are a wonderful and entertaining way of passing knowledge about history, traditions and morals. Participants of ages ranging from 4-15 from New England states submitted videos of them narrating stories for the contest. Every participant received a certificate, a book and a prize check in appreciation of their work.


Meanwhile, the corridors of the middle school housed a bustling bazaar reminiscent of its Indian counterpart - the main difference being that this bazaar reflected the overarching theme of Hindu Heritage with many non-profit and educational stalls. Taking a stroll through the halls was a hands-on experience. One could pick up a pair of traditional-style, glittering kangan (bangles) at one stall and find a modern-cut Indian kurta (blouse), or a colorful saree at another. Hard to find books for children such as Amar Chitra Katha comics and books on Ramayan caught the imagination of children and parents alike. Those interested in a more spiritual experience could be found reading about a better way of life, yoga and meditation schools, Ayurveda and more. Those interested in giving back to the community stopped at several non-profit organization stalls such as Support-a-Child, Ekal Vidyalaya, information on VHPA summer family camps, Indian Circle for Caring, and many others.

Adults and children alike paused in the hallway to gain knowledge about Hindu traditions and contributions from exhibits on the theme of Bhakti, Symbolism of Numbers in Hinduism and Darshana (Hindu Civilization), which were both informative and easy-to-understand.

Behind the scenes, more than 100 volunteers worked ceaselessly to bring us the magic of a flawless and successful event. From directing backstage traffic to handling technical stage effects such as music and lights, these volunteers kept the program flow going. For HHD regulars, it’s something that comes as no surprise that HHD is an event faithfully put together by the adults and the youth of the New England community.


The program was well supported by Media partners, Gunjan Radio and Lokvani


As the volunteers wrapped up cleaning, there was the satisfaction of job well done. The enthusiastic participation of the local community surely invigorated them to start thinking about planning for next year’s event.


VHP of America is a registered non-profit 501 © 3 national organization which has among its objectives to unite Hindus by instilling in them devotion to the Hindu way of life, to cultivate self-respect and respect for all people, and to establish contacts with Hindus all over the world. For more information please visit http://www.vhp-america.org/

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