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‘Swarnim Gujarat’ Celebrations Mark Golden Jubilee of Gujarat State

Photos by Krishna Photography

Gujarati Samaj, Atlanta organized a historic and spectacular Golden Jubilee “Swarnim Gujarat’ Celebrations, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Gujarat State, along with the dedication of the bust of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on its premises. Close to 2,500 people attended this two-day event making this a truly vibrant Gujarati celebration.

The program was coordinated by Board of Governors member Ramesh Pandya and his team of dedicated volunteers under the dynamic leadership of the President of Gujarati Samaj,Vipul Patel. The event was graced by the presence of Padma Shri Dr.Sudhir Parikh, Chharodi Gurukul’s Swami Madhavpriyadasji, the President of National Federation of Indian American Association (NFIA),Chandu K.Patel, Senior Vice President and Founding Partner of Core Pharma, Dr.Vithal Dhaduk, Member of Rajya Sabha,Kanjibhai Patel and Founder of ‘Academy of Indian Culture’, Arvindbhai Joshi and supported by all the leading Indian Organizations in Atlanta. The celebrations were held on Saturday, September 11 and Sunday September 12,2010, at the ‘Sardar Patel Bhavan’, home of Gujarati Samaj,in Tucker,Georgia.

Messages conveying good wishes were received from the Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, Minister Nitin Patel, Gujarat Vidhan Sabha speaker Ashok Bhatt and Executive Chairman of Swarnim Gujarat Celebrations I.K.Jadeja.

On the sunny Saturday morning, Gujarati Samaj Officers and members extended a warm welcome to the dignitaries and also greeted Jayantibhai Patel of BAPs Shree Swaminarayan Mandir who arrived with the commemorative ‘Swarna Kalash’sent from Gujarat by it’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.The Kalash had previously been blessed at the BAPS 3rd Patotsav Festival on August 22, 2010. All the attendees then proceeded to the entrance of the Main Hall, where Swamiji and dignitaries ceremoniously placed the Kalash on a stool to launch the celebrations.

After the dignitary guests,Chairman,Dr.Mukesh Patel, Mukund Shah and Mangalkaka took their seats on the stage, Ramesh Pandya welcomed all and invited Swamiji to light the ceremonial divo. Pandya gave a brief, glowing description of the Chharodi Gurukul run by Swamiji, and also other humanitarian services performed by him for which he has received several Awards. Swamiji offered his blessings and exhorted all to join him in offering salutations to Gujarat, in famous words of Poet Narmad-‘Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat’ We are all happy and proud to be born in Gujarat. Gujaratis are known for making money. Sure. But Gujaratis are also known for their acts of philanthropy. Spiritual leaders from all over India come to Gujarat because it is a land of two Mohans-Dwarika’s Lord Krishna and Porbander’s Mahatma Gandhi!” Swamiji also explained the significance of various items, like Kumbh used in Pooja, 

Gujarati Samaj Secretary, Khyati Patel emceed the remaining part of the interesting program with composure and confidence. All stood up for a rousing flag hoisting ceremony and then solemnly observed a moment of silence for the 9/11 victims. Amy Jasani and Nirali Patel beautifully sang the US National Anthem and later in company with Anand Jasani, Kamy Shah, Rhea Husein and Shailee Husein sang the Indian National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’

With the recent Padma Shri Award, bestowed by the President of India, Smt.Pratibha Patil, Dr.Sudhir Parikh, has become the only Indian American to receive all three of the most prestigious Awards-The Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman and the Padma Shri. A noted physician, Dr.Parikh has received these Awards for his exemplary career, a lifetime of community service; his generous philanthropy and for enhancing Indo-US relations. The attendees erupted into a wide applause after watching a video-clip highlighting the above.

Dr Parikh said he felt honored to be invited to the ‘Swarnim Gujarat’ celebrations. “ These Awards really are yours because I could not have received these without your support, and good wishes. Today is a day of pride for us-pride for the all-round progress of vibrant Gujarat in every field, Gujarat is a land of Gandhi,Ravishanker Maharaj,Morarji Desai, Sardar Patel,Dadabhai Navrojee,Vikram Sarabhai, Ambani,Narsi Mehta and Kavi Narmad, to name a few and we all are inheritors of their invaluable legacy.”(applause). Dr.Parikh is Chairman and Publisher of Parikh Worldwide Media Inc.He stressed the importance of preserving and promoting Gujarati culture and heritage and especially Gujarati language and appealed to the audience to not only read the Gujarat Times(a Gujarati language weekly newspaper) but to also contribute articles and poems. 

Mr. Chandu K.Patel “CK” from California is the President of Vishwa Umiya Patidar Pariwar, and is a hotelier by profession. He is Founder of “Southern California Hotel-Motel Association”. In his brief address,C.K.Patel said, “ Let us salute all those brave men and women who laid their lives for Gujarat. Today is a day not only for rejoicing but also for thinking of the future road map for upliftment of Gujarat. Gujarat’s 65% population lives in its 18,000 villages. When I saw the impressive model village in the adjoining exhibition section, it brought back the memories of my early days in my small village in Gujarat. I applaud Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the rapid and progressive transformation of Gujarat’s villages in the past ten years. To give one example, through Jyotigram Yojana, all the villages have now been electrified with a 24 hour electricity supply(applause). But a lot remains to be done. It is our duty to help the villages. If you do not invest in Gujarat now, you are missing the boat, because the rate of return on your investment will be much higher than in any other State in India. Let us pledge today to lend our support to him in fulfilling his vision and mission to put Gujarat on the world map.”(applause)

Dr.Vithalbhai Dhaduk is an eminent neurologist who helms diverse professional entities. He is also heavily involved in research, teaching and study of neurology in Medical College of Pennsylvania. Dr.Dhaduk echoed C.K.Patel’s exhortation of helping in Gujarat’s progress. “ I strongly urge you to adopt a village or a worthy village-project and extend your help. Recently when I met Narendra Modi, he commended Gujarat Samaj for honoring Sardar Patel by installing his bust.  He also welcomed the offer by the Organizers of famed Police Unity Tour to start a Police Unity Tour in Gujarat in 2011 when 50 Senior Police Officers from US and India will show their solidarity in fight against terrorism by riding their bikes from Karamsad, the birth place of Sardar Patel, to the BAPS Mandir in Gandhinagar”. 

Arvind Joshi is the Founder of the “Academy of Indian Culture” in Los Angeles, California in 1988.through which he has trained more than 1,000 artists and played a great role in pursuing his passion for light, folk and devotional music and drama. He is a recipient of several prestigious Awards in Gujarat and U.S. Joshi commended Ramesh Pandya for his fierce commitment, drive and determination in organizing the Swarnim Gujarat celebrations and stressed the need to preserve and nourish Gujarati language, culture and traditions. He concluded his brief remarks by reciting a poem ‘Dil ma divo karo (Light a lamp in your hearts), and requested Pandya to present a Plaque to Dr.Sudhirbhai Parikh.

Kanjibhai Patel is a former Minister in Gujarat and also on the National Executive of BJP.Kanjibhai lauded iconic Narendra Modi’s exemplary leadership and immense popularity all over India and his astounding role in enhancing Gujarat’s stature.Kanjibhai also urged the attendees to engage in empowering the villages in Gujarat. 

After releasing the attractive commemorative Souvenir, plaques were presented to Dr.Parikh; C.K.Patel; Dr.Vithal Dhaduk; Arvind Joshi and Kanjibhai Patel. 

In his address, the President of Gujarati Samaj, Vipul Patel said,” GSA is privileged and honored to celebrate ‘Swarnim Gujarat’ celebrations, under the leadership and hard work of BOG Ramesh Pandya and his team.
Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the State of Gujarat has emerged as a model state in many ways. Its progress and achievements are envious to even some developed nations! “Today’s Gujarat is tomorrow’s India.” 
After 29 years, GSA is a robust Samaj with over a thousand paid family members. The whole credit goes to our founding fathers, past executives, board members, financial donors and dedicated volunteers. Today we are also creating another history. We will be inaugurating the bust of our Iron Man,Sardar Patel in our Sardar Bhavan.It was our long time member and dedicated volunteer,Shree Ram Mangaldas Motibhai Patel(Mangalkaka)’s dream to install the bust and he has generously sponsored it. GSA is honored to have a galaxy of eminent dignitaries to the historic celebrations. I would like to recognize all the past Presidents of GSA and request them to please stand up. I wish to also recognize Baldevbhai Patel, from Gujarati Samaj Tennessee; and Ravi Parekh and Poonam Patel from Gujarati Samaj Franklin, and Kentucky respectively. I also thank local Organizations, BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Shakti Mandir, IACA; Global Mall and SMVS for their support. Finally I would like to also thank all the event donors, vendors, Souvenir advertisers; Media partners, Davis Printing, Krish Photography and all the volunteers.”

In a very stirring speech, 88 year old Mangalkaka paid glowing tributes to the indomitable ‘Iron Man of India’,Sardar Patel, a world renowned Statesman, a unique integrator who played a major role in India’s struggle for freedom and later in forging a unified India from 565 princely states.

The Chief Coordinator,Ramesh Pandya recognized Atlanta’s well respected and liked performing arts promoter Mustafa Ajmeri,who is recovering from a serious illness.Pandya said that it was his dream that Gujarati Samaj ought to organize Golden Jubilee celebrations.Pandya also recognized Girish Patel(Mukhi),Vinod Kaswala and Rasik Bhimani for working strenuously to set up the village exhibits, which can help younger generation and all those who have not been to India to learn about village-life in India.Pandya further recognized past-President of Gujarati Samaj,Vinodbhai Patel(Vinodkaka), who over the years has consistently attended each and every event of the Samaj and helped in every possible way. Both Girish Patel and Vinodkaka were presented with Plaques for their services.Pandya went on to thank Kalpesh Patel of Patel Bros.; Dhiru Pattni;and BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir(for blessing the Swarnim Kalash). 

The attendees were treated to two spectacular dance items choreographed by Dance Director Kumud Savla and music director Sandeep Savla of Atlanta’s famed Indian Dance and Music Academy. The first dance choreographed to a prayer by Poet Narmad and composed by music maestro Rahman was performed by Samta Savla and group, who later performed a scintillating raas(Gokul aavo Girdhari) with a mixed group,which received a thunderous ovation. Traditional form of Garba known as ‘Tippani’ was performed by Gujarati Samaj ladies to vibrant music of Gujarat.

Dr.Sudhir Parikh, flanked by the other dignitaries, and beaming donor Mangalkaka performed the unveiling ceremony of the bust of Sardar Patel, by garlanding the bust and showering it with flower petals. Drumbeats and loud applause added flavor to the ceremony. Vinodbhai Patel and Girish Patel(Mukhi) have played a big role in getting the 100 kilo bust by sculptor Dhruv of Ahmedabad to Atlanta.Navinbhai Patel arranged to bring the soil from Sardar’s home to place underneath the bust. Gujarati Samaj Atlanta has the honor to be the first among the Organizations in the US to install Sardar’s bust. 

The attendees proceeded to the Exhibition Section where Dr. Dhaduk cut the ribbon and declared the exhibition open. On the left side there were panels displaying original pictures of Gujarat’s famed scientists, literary figures, saints, researchers, entrepreneurs and patriots, with quotes, poems, and other insightful information underneath. On the right side there were exhibit replicas of typical village huts, village wells, ox-cart,cradle,temples, musical instruments, cooking utensils, pots, a rope swing, a rope charpoy; a spinning wheel,etc.A few volunteers donned village costumes and acted as a tailor, a cobbler, a barber ,etc. 

In the afternoon, after lunch, there was a live entertainment program and audio/video presentation on a giant screen and in the evening, after a delectable dinner, Arvind Joshi and his troupe of Kirti Dave, Rekha Dave, Noopur Dave, Kirti Patel, Mayuri Patel, Harsh Thaker, Hemant Ekbote, Darshak Joshi,and Jayshree Gohil presented a ‘Geet Gurjari’ musical entertainment program. The audience were treated to a vintage Gujarati songs like ‘dhuni re dhakhavi’;Taari aankh no afini;chhanu re chhapnu’; Hari tu gadu maru kya lay jay;etc. which have won the hearts and minds of music-lovers everywhere. Joshi was very appreciative of the audience. “ We enjoyed presenting the program here because the audience is very receptive and music-loving.”

Many more members and public turned up on Sunday to visit the Exhibition Hall, Vendor booths and enjoy the Cultural show. Kudos to Gujarati Samaj for organizing the Golden Jubilee celebrations, in a record time of less than two months, and with free admission, breakfast, lunches dinners and cultural entertainment for all.

The purpose behind organizing this event, as coordinator Ramesh Pandya stated was “educational”. It afforded a golden opportunity to learn about Gujarat without spending a dime from one’s pocket.

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