BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, April 17, 2023: The Shivaji Maharaj Antarrashtriya Parivar (SMAP Foundation Inc), Atlanta chapter celebrated Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti with much patriotic fervor, adorned with a four-foot replica of the Raygadh statue of the legendary king, accompanied by panoply of fanfare, performances, food stalls, attracting well over 1000 attendees. The event was held at Desana Middle School on March 25, 2023.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj laid the foundation of the Maratha Empire in Western India in 1674. He is also known as the Father of the Indian Navy.
Shawn Still, the Republican State Senate, Honorable Carter Barrett, Georgia State Representative, Todd Levent, District 3 Commissioner, and Cassandra Kirk, Chief Judge of Fulton County presided the event as guests of honor.
The Shivaji Maharaj Antarrashtriya Parivar (SMAP Foundation Inc) founded by Vijay Patil is endorsed by Hon. Prime Minister of India Hon. Narendra Modi, Governor of Georgia, Hon. Brain Kemp, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, and numerous dignitaries.
In her address, Monalisa Khandke, the Founding President of SMAP(GA) highlighted the SMAP grand celebrations held across over 100 cities worldwide, with Atlanta serving as one of the largest part of the gargantuan festivities. She also underlined various SMAP projects including SMAP University, Leadership Center, and SMAP Youth.
In her welcome speech, Senior Adviser, SMAP (ATL) Rina Gupta dedicated the event to the late senior adviser Mr. Rajan Vedak. She highlighted that the Shivaji Maharaj Antar-rashtriya Parivaar is not just an organization, but a family that promotes unity and leadership without boundaries.
The event kicked off with the grand procession featuring the energetic Dhol and Tasha Lezim by the “North America Dhol Tasha Lezim” team, as well as a Palkhi parade by the SMAP Youth Team. The indoor event began with lamp lighting by chief guests and Shila Vedak ji, followed by the Shivaji Maharaj Statue puja performed by Kaushal Tripathi.
The event showcased several acclaimed dance and drama groups, with over 300 participants taking to the stage to focus on India’s revolutionary leaders. Shweta Dubey served as the emcee for the event.
The event was supported by gold sponsor Vini Reality and Team, D&J Law Group, and silver sponsor 27th Investment. Shweta Pakala’s Atlanta Community Events also provided strong support.
In her vote of thanks, Pratima Dhumal applauded the organizing team of Ranjithaveena Pol, Pradnya Kharat, Jas Karnik, Ajay Rai, Ankur Mali, Sanjay Gadre, and Atul Wadyalkar for their efforts in bringing the community together and organizing a successful event. “The Shivaji Maharaj Antarrashtriya Parivar has done an excellent job of promoting Shivaji Maharaj’s legacy and inspiring people to follow in his footsteps,” she said.
The event was supported by several non-profit organizations, including the Shashikala Foundation, UPNAA, Vedic Temple of Atlanta, amongst others.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, also known as Shivaji or Shivaji Raje Bhosle, was born on 19 February 1630 in Pune’s Shivneri Durg to Jijabai and Shahji Bhonsle. His father Shahaji Raje Bhosale was a high official in the court of Bijapur. Known to be a secular leader, he is said to have been accepting of all religions. Having realized the significance of the naval force in its early stages, he built naval forts at Jaigarh, Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg and many other places and even had four different types of warships including Manjuhasm Pals, Gurabs and Gallibats and hence known as the father of the Indian Navy. Known for his war strategies, with limited resources, he introduced raiding warfare skills when he captured the ‘Torna’ fort at a very young age and gave the first major blow to the Sultan of Bijapur. He was the proponent of the Guerrilla war. Shivaji Maharaj was known to be a staunch supporter of women, strongly opposing violence or harassment against women and is said to have issued strict instructions to his soldiers that no woman should be harmed while raiding.