LONG BEACH, CA - It felt like the first day of spring with its riot of colorful display aptly titled ‘Gujarat Mahotsav’ or The Gujarat Celebration on June 18 and 19 at the Convention Center here. Over two days a gathering of about 2500 people walked, stayed and enjoyed the program.The lighting of the lamp heralded the...
Bharatbhai Rajgor of the Norwalk Radha Krishna Temple spearheaded the spiritual discourses on both days with an emphasis of Krishna’s teachings of the Bhagvad. “If Krishna were to give you a choice between five million dollars or stage four cancer, which would you opt for”? The emphasis being on what money can or cannot buy.
In the discourse arena, Author Kajal Oza Vaidya stole the show. She talked uninterrupted for about an hour without a teleprompter or a piece of paper.
On Father’s Day, June 19, Vaidya wove a beautiful fabric of what a father is. “We often talk of a Mother’s contribution and value in a child’s life, but let us find out what a father is. She drew the audience attention to the paradox of rearing a boy who is told by his mom not to cry or express emotion lest he looked like a helpless, hapless girl. The same boy when he grows up to be a man is faced with unending complaints of not knowing to express himself and keeping quiet. Men and women are not equal. They cannot be. They are like apples and oranges.So, why waste time indulging in futile gender equality roles. There is no equality, just complementarity.
Jay Vasavada, author, teacher and speaker beautifully elucidated the traits of a father. He drew a parallel between the Super heroes of today like Iron Man, Superman, and Captain America and pointed out to India’s most ancient Super Hero of all times- Hanuman.
Adding a lighter note to all this was celebrity TV actor Dilip Joshi, popular as Jethalal of the serial ‘Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma’. The audience was enthralled by his presence and a Q and A ensued about his personal life, about why his screen wife ‘Daya’ did not accompany him. He spoke lovingly about living with his parents and not the other way around. The comedy scene continued with comedian Dinkar Mehta who left the audience tickled with his jokes.
The music performances meted out were by some of the most outstanding singers of Gujarat. Osman Mir tops the list and was rightly the show stealer! He had the audience captured on both days lilting melodies and odes to Shiva in his “Shiv Samaan koi Daata Nahi” followed by an Ibadat in the same melody. His popular rendition of “Mor Bani Thangaat Kare” from the movie `Goliyon ki Raasleela, Raam Leela,’ had the audience jump up to break into a dance. Mir also had Shri Abhesinh Rathod, Meena Patel and Bhikhudan Gadhvi accompany him on this folk song. In the midst of all this traditional potluck, Bhoomi Trivedi came as a whiff of fresh air. Bhoomi shot to fame with her song “Ram Chahe Leela.” She represented the present day Gujarati generation with her fusion Gujarati songs. She gave a new twist to the popular Bhajan `Mara Raam Tame Sitaji Ne Tole Na Aavo,’ sung in a western melody. She was the only performer who stood out in uniqueness in her western dress laced with a colorful mirror embroidered neckline and border. Her closed toe stiletto heels did not prevent her from swaying and sweating to ‘Rangilo Maro Dholna Re’. Her effervescent personality had the audience dancing to her tunes in various Garba and hip-hop movements.
Devang Patel of Patel Rap fame too had the audience up on stage dancing to his tune of rap songs.
Atul Purohit with his team led the Raas Garba songs leaving the audience thirsty for more.
The group Tahuko.Com, a non-profit organization had kids born and brought up in US sing Gujarati songs. A dance performance team from Denver they flew to Los Angeles at their own cost to participate in this event showcasing their love for Gujarat.
IN THE LOBBY
The richly decorated reception area had numerous booths from local vendors who did brisk business. Gujju flavored chai, specialty snacks; Gujju soda, mehndi and colorful clothes were available as were a range of books for the knowledge hungry.The props displayed were a reminder of the traditional Gujarat that even to this day retains the old and also embraces the modern. The ingenuity of a Gujju is reflected in the mode of transport as the Chhakaddo – a motorbike combined with a bullock cart on wheels. This open taxi that carries anywhere between 8-18 people without seatbelts was also on display.
Pravin Patel of Kola Hotel Group along with Kamlesh Bhuptani of Classic Production organized the two-day grand extravaganza. Sharad Mehta, the Managing Director of the event was the engine behind this fast moving vehicle. Behind the scenes were Manu Shah of M.S. International, Drs. Irma and Ushakant Thakker and Dr. Vikram Kamdar who were the pillars of this mammoth project, a first of its kind in the West Coast. The idea came from the very popular ‘Chalo Gujarat’ event in the East Coast. Aapka Colors was the official TV channel sponsor of the event. All in all the audience thoroughly enjoyed the Mahotsav.Lunch was included in the tickets and catered by Rasraj in Artesia. Some extraordinary efforts went into bringing hot lunch of kachori, khaman dhokla, gota, motichur laddoo to name a few items enjoyed by all. Day two of the event lasted till about 11pm with the last few people trickling out leisurely saying, “Phari Madiye Aavta Varshe, Gujarat Mahotsav Ma,” translated, “Till we meet again next year for Gujarat Mahotsav.”
(PHOTOS BY: NAIK STUDIOS)