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UANA’s 10th Annual Convention

Pushp Kumar

The Uttarakhand Association of North America (UANA) â„¢ held their annual convention in grand style this Saturday (the July 19, 2008) at Boston, Massachusetts.

This was a whole day event with seminar scheduled in the morning at Emerson Hall of the Harvard University. The evening program comprising of General Body meeting and the Cultural-Program was held at famed Kresge Auditorium of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The attendees came from all over North America, from Canada, Virginia, California, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Texas, Missouri, North Carolina. There were attendees from 3month old infants to the 96 years old beloved Dr. J.P. Kukreti of Univ. of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Highlights of the program included a theatrical rendition of the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra by New England members of UANA, and various discussions on the state of Uttarakhand as well as UANA itself.

The seminar program in the morning consisted of a presentation by Mr. Manuj Pathak of Association for India's Development (AID). The presentation involved discussion of AID SAATHI Malika Virdi's ongoing project in the area of women empowerment in Munsiyari region of Uttarakhand. Rajiv Rawat, a stalwart of the seminar series, presented on both the Mountain Shepherds Initiative and his PhD dissertation topic. For the second presentation, he decided to take a highly critical look at the state, veering sharply away from the usual boosterism, to critique the new state's policies and politics that he had heard repeatedly in his travels through Uttarakhand over the last two years. These issues were further highlighted by Dr. S.R. Hiramath who spoke on “Nadi Bachaoo Andolan” and recent protest of environmentalist and academician Dr. G.D. Agarwal for conservation of Bhagirathi river. Kids coming from various state had a chance to visit Harvard and MIT World famous university and also took a tour of Boston Childrens Museum  

Despite Chief Minister Khanduri's last minute cancellation due to illness of his spouse, other dignitaries from India including Uttarakhand's youngest MLA, Mr. Pushpesh Tripathi, and Mr. Dhirender Pratap, former spokesperson for Janata Dal and Congress, made the trip to Boston. Other special guests included Parashar Gaur, the Garhwali filmmaker from Toronto and community elders Dr. Prabhu Negi, the original founder of UANA, Dr. Ramesh Pandey, and Dr. Basant Tariyal. Professor Joshi from Department of Physics along with his wife Professor Mrs Lata Joshi head of Chemistry Department of Kumaon University also graced the occasion from India.

Greetings and wishes for Uttarakhand association of North America from Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri, Shri Harish Rawat, Mr. Ruskin Bond, Mr. Victor Banerjee, Shri. Satyam Darmora, Shri. Narender Singh Negi, Shri. Girish Tiwari (Girda), Dr. Shekar Pathak and Sri Chandan Dangi from India, Dr. Shyam S Phartyal from Japan, Shri N S Bisht, from Singapore Mansi and Mr. Deepak Dabral  from London were received and presented to all the convention participants.

The evening began with a Yoga demonstration by Yogiraj Om Prakash ji Maharaj of Om Yog Sansthaan. The yoga demonstration was thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by all attendees.

UANA Yr. 2008 Convention Coordinator, Pushp Kumar, Mr. Vijay Sharma and Deepak Nautiyal thanked the participants for their support and generosity in making this convention possible. Deepak Nautiyal also spoke about the accomplishment of Uttarakhand Association of North America. He mentioned how during UANA 2007 convention UANA presented and honored the distinguished guests and famous personalities of Uttarakhand –Narendra Singh Negi, Dr. Sekhar Pathak, and Girda – for the first time in North America, and felicitated them with “Lifetime Achievement Awards” for their for their outstanding contribution to Uttarakhand society. Mr. Deepak Nautiyal also spoke about how UANA has successfully conducted the UANA Award for academic Excellence project that has made the name of this association well respected within Uttarakhand, and the entire Uttarakhandi community worldwide including North America.

Mr. Vijay Sharma felicitated distinguished guests Mr. Pushpesh Tripathi, Mr. Dhirendra  Pratap, , Mr Parashar Gaur, Dr. Kukreti, Dr. PDS Negi, Dr. Basant Tariyal, and Dr. Ramesh Pandey on behalf of UANA.

The cultural program was yet another illustrious affair with the New England chapter leading the way with an array of songs and dance numbers. While the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra was by far the most elaborate production, enormous efforts were made by various youth, encouraged in their work by Pushp Kumar, coordinator of the UANA Yr. 2008 Convention organizing committee. All the participants of the Nanda Devi Yatra thoroughly enjoyed the experience of simulating this centuries old tradition on stage. Meenu and Manish Tiwari of Massachusetts while performing the Holy Nanda Devi yatra experienced the most amazing spiritual experience. Susheel Tiwari, who was a participant of the year 2000 Nanda Devi Raj Jaat yatra shared his experience via power point presentation. Preparation for the Nanda Devi yatra item brought all Uttarakhandi families from New Englad area together, as they spent every weekend of the last 3 months preparing for it. Many thanks to Pramod Pandey, Jeewan adhikari, Kamla Adhikari, Sunita Badola, Navneet Negi, Meenu Tiwari and  Seema and Biren Manchikalapati for making this possible.  Also, heartfelt thanks to Deepak pant of New Hampshire and Lokesh and Navneet Negi of Rhode Island for traveling long distance to join families from Masachusetts every weekend to participate in practice sessions. Tapan and Ruchi Tiwari also made sure to be there for every practice. Mansiha and Narender and Susheel and Seema Tiwari are recently blessed with baby and those little infants were also the part of practices. As per Mrs Pushp Kumar, the joint effort of handful of pahadi families contributed 100% towards the success of the convention. Nanda lok jaat yatra was conceived and choreographed by young talented Sanju Pahari, who is a scientist by profession and a true and most committed pahadi by nature. Mamta Tripathi, an attendee from New Jersey commented that the whole show was just awe inspiring and jaw dropping, the music, costumes, performance, commentary and everything was just superb. Every one could not stop praising the musical yatra. Professor Nautiyal of BHU also commented that he has not seen such a show that made every person present deeply involved in it.

In the foyer, the works of Mohini Rawat, a California-based artist, were displayed. Jyoti Kandpal, a talented versatile singer was also among the attendees and congratulated all the participants for putting a grand show. As per her, this show has superbly showcased our culture as it had all different folk music and dance of pahad like Cholia, chanchari, jagar, jhoda etc.

Another attraction was the Tabla performance and Fusion on the song Bedu pako. Probably it was first time when bedu pako was played as a fusion by various instruments together, piano, violin, tabla and guitar etc. This was an excellent presentation by kids. Kudos to Yash Adhikari, Akshat Pandey, Natasha Kumar and Kriti Badola for their flawless performance. Other attractions were  performance on some Bollywood songs and some pahadi songs including bedu pako.

Evening ended with sumptuous pahadi cuisine as dinner. All the participants had only good things to remember for this educative and memorable day of celebrating Uttarakhand Art, Culture and Heritage together as a united, strong, and vibrant community of Uttarakhand Association of North America at Boston.

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