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Kerala Center Honors Dr. Thomas Abraham And Varghese Kalathil

Press Release

GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, chairman, and Kalathil Varghese, the newly appointed Human Rights Commissioner, Nassau County, New York, were honored during the 18th anniversary celebrations of Indo-American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center, Elmont, New York on Saturday, June 7, 2008. Attended by nearly 300 people from across the New York Tri-state, the event was a way of celebrating the achievements and contributions of Kerala Center over the past two decades. Started on a small scale with the initiative of a few far-sighted Indian American leaders, the Center has earned a world recognition for its many contributions to the Indian community in the United States.

The event began with the lighting of the lamp by Sebastian Paul, a Member of Indian Parliament from Ernakulam, India, P.S. Sasi Kumar, Counselor at the Indian Consulate in New York, and leaders of the Indian community in the United States.

In his welcome address, Jose Chummar, president of the Center, reminded the audience of the humble beginnings of Kerala Center in a basement nearly two decades ago, and how it has come to symbolize the achievements and aspirations of the Malayalee community in the United states. He highlighted some of the ways through which the Center has come to serve the community. He said, "In addition to the many ways the Center serves the NRI community, the Center has taken efforts to marry off girls from poor families back home in Kerala." He urged everyone to actively participate and enable the Center to explore new and challenging ways to respond to the emerging needs of the community.

The students of Malayalam Language School at the Center, led the audience in singing the national anthems of both countries, the United States and India. In his opening remarks, Mathew Valzhapillil, a member of the Board of Directors, Kerala Center, paid rich tributes to several individuals who have contributed their time, energy, talents and resources to the growth of the Center. "From a modest beginning 18 years ago, the Center has come to play a vital role in the life of the community," he said.

There are Indian languages, Music and Dance classes for children, SAT coaching for youngsters. Various seminars are conducted ranging from political to investment in addition to many Civic and Cultural activities taking place on a regular basis at the Kerala Center. The Center has also been providing platform for various political leaders to have political awareness and campaign meetings with the Indian community. Not leaving out the important religious factor, the Center has become a forum for various religious activities and celebration for the members of the center who represent Hindu, Muslim and different denominations of Christianity. The center has outgrown its initial objectives for which it was founded, and has become a facility that serves the various needs of the larger Indian American community.

The event began with the lighting of the lamp by Sebastian Paul, a Member of Indian Parliament from Ernakulam, India; Sashi Kumar, Counselor at the Indian Consulate in New York and leaders of the Indian community in the United States.

Thambi Thalappillil, a Trustee and a member of the Board of Directors of Kerala Center, while introducing Dr, Thomas Abraham, described him as the "proud son of Indian community in the United states." A pioneer with innovative ideas, Dr. Abraham has been actively serving the Indian community in various capacities. He has been instrumental in founding several local, national, and global organizations that serve humanity, he said. Dr. Abraham, who was given the highest civilian award to an NRI, Parvasi Bharatiya Samman by the government of India, was presented with an award of appreciation from the Kerala Center by Lokh Sabha member Sebastian Paul.

In his speech, Dr. Thomas Abraham, thanked the Kerala Center for honoring him and said, "This honor by my own community is very special to me," Describing the foresight and dedication of a few leaders, which has helped the Kerala Center evolve into a forum for people of all backgrounds to participate and share a common vision for the NRI community, Dr. Abraham, "This award and the Samman given to me by the government of India is a recognition of what we as a community have stood for all along."

He shared with the audience how from his college days at Columbia University, he has been in the forefront organizing the Indian community and fighting for their rights around the world. He also focused on how the many initiatives of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), he had helped found, has become truly a forum for all people of Indian origin to unite and fight for their rights in India and around the world. He reninded the audience that "the 21st century belongs to India and we all have a role to play in realizing this great vision.’

Kalathil Varghese, a community leader and the newly appointed Human Rights Commissioner, while thanking the Center and the Malayalee community for honoring him, highlighted the role of the Human Rights Commission in everyone’s life. He has been in the forefront, supporting noble causes all along his life, and vowed to continue to work for the well being of the Indian community in the United States.

Sasi Kumar began his address with a congratulatory note to the Kerala Center for the 18 years of dedicated service to the community. He said, Kerala ranks 'highest' in education and cultural developments, and the Kerala Center rightly provides a forum to the vast majority of Malayalees in North America to grow professionally.

Sebastian Paul, who had come to the United States as part of a group of Parliamentary Group visiting Yale University, fecilitated the Kerala Center for its many achievements and lauded the role being played by the Kerala Center in providing a forum to various sections of the people to engage in activirties of their choice. He praised the Malayealee community around the world for its tremendous achievement and ability to adapt to the new situations and places.

Students in the age group of 5-20 belonging to the Nupura School of Dances entertained the audience with brilliant dance performances throughout the long anniversary celebrations that lasted for over four hours. Songs, music, and dances by children and the youth of the Kerala Center gave one hope that the new generations will carryon the rich traditions of Kerala to the years and centuries to come, wherever they live. And the evening concluded with a delicious traditional Kerala Meal.

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Dr. Thomas Abraham being honored by the Kerala Center. From L. to R.: Jose Chummar, Thambi Thalappillil, Raju Thomas, Dr. Thomas Abraham, Dr. Nitya Abraham, Dr. Susy Abraham, Sebastian Paul M.P. and P.S. Sasi Kumar

Varghese Kalathil beging honored by the Kerala Center. From L. to R.: Varghese, Joyan Mathew, Sebastian Paul M.P. and P.S. Sasi Kumar

Kerala Center students singing American and Indian national Anthems

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