Atlanta, GA, January 9, 2019: The Konkani Association Of Georgia (KAOG) had their annual Diwali celebration at the S Convention Center in Cumming on November 3. It was a new venue, chosen for unencumbered bursting of fireworks and display. It is the finale of the year, and as always, it started with pooja and arti. This year set up near the arti was art – a show displaying the many artistic talents of the community in all age categories. The gallery viewers also enjoyed live music played by kids on instruments. The art added to the decor, besides creating interest among people readying for the spectacle that is entertainment.
Following the arti was the most awaited program of the evening – the entertainment. The association always strives to put together an eclectic offering of songs and high-energy dances across genders, genres and ages, built around a couple of long skits. There were Bollywood dances by not only children, but several medleys by ladies set to choreography that was top-notch.One of the dances was Kathak by two dancers who were so skilled that the steps were choreographed over videos on their phones, with just a couple of in-person practice sessions! Reshma Hegde, Savita Shanbhag and Pratibha Nayak mined their considerable talents to choreograph the dances.
The skits in Konkani wove around the dances, incorporating them in their storylines. Marital strife caused mostly by philandering and subsequent straightening out the kinks through counseling by – you guessed it – watching dance performances together, were the themes of the skits written by resident playwright Banur Nageshrao. Thehigh pointof the evening was a skit involving kids entirely in Konkani, with flawless delivery of lines by the young actors none older than twelve years. If it was drawn out, there was a convincing reason – more kids wanted to join in the fun, and the skit grew to accommodate them! No one begrudged them the extra minutes. The language seemed to be in good hands as it gets passed down to the next generation! A quiz conducted by MCs Arvind Benny Benegal and Shwetha Bhumana on the lines of Family Feud involving Konkani themes – food, sayings, the like – hit the spot, going by the raucous enthusiasm it generated. Unique in the roster of skits was one in Sanskrit on upholding Dharmic practices, written by Sanskrit scholar Lalitha Kamath. To set the occasion up, the musical Shanbhag family – Shashank, his mother Smy Kanchan and Deepali gave a primer in song on various festivals. A nice touch which invoked nostalgia in the 40+ crowd were fillers made up of TV ads with familiar jingles from the 80s and 90s enacted by members (think Nirma on Nesbitt Ferry, Vicks in Vickery Creek and Limca at Lanier. No, there was no Liril…)
Post dinner, it was time to step out for display of fireworks, which was a highlight of the evening, pun intended. Before the fireworks, the committee for the next year was selected, with many new first-timers stepping up. The president Praful Shenoy expressed her gratitude to the present committee for pulling off fine programs this year so well.
The KAOG was formed in 2000, when a few families who have been meeting informally decided to form an association. Member events typically occur three times a year – Yugadi celebrations in March/April, a summer picnic in an outdoor setting, and Diwali celebrations in October/November. There are about 60 active families in theAtlantametro area, and the few families strewn acrossGeorgiawho enthusiastically make the trip for each of the events. The Diwali program is the grand finale, capping off the years’ events, and occasion to showcase the talents of the community, and encourage participation. This year’s celebration capped off a year of successful events with tremendous participation at all levels, setting off a positive vibe for 2019.