Last year, at the inaugural joint celebrations of Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day at Times Square, a heavy downpour made the event a bit muted, as revelers and tourists made a beeline for cover.
This past Sunday April 29, though, the second annual show which went over two hours saw a terrific turnout, to celebrate the foundation of the two states. A sizeable crowd thronged around cultural performances and free workshops.
Times Square rang with the sounds a band of Dhol Tasha Lezhim artists, dressed in colorful traditional attire, who also attracted passers-by from around the world to stop and watch their performance.
Maharashtra Day commemorates the formation of the state when the earlier Bombay State was divided on May 1 1960.
Gujarat Day is also celebrated on May 1. Referred to as the ‘Jewel of Western India’, Gujarat has now completed 50 years. About 59 million people speak Gujarati, making it the 26th most-spoken native language in the world.
The meet was organized by Jai Bharat Dhol Tasha Pathak USA and TV Asia. The unique meet was conceptualized last year by Dr. Manisha Madhavi of Jai Bharat Dhol Tasha Pathak USA and Srujal Parikh of TV Asia, to showcase the unity in diversity of India’s rich culture.
This past Sunday, the program started with a ‘Ganesh Vandana’. It was followed by Dhol Tasha music and Lezhim dance presentations. Later, garba and dandiya dances were performed by some local Gujarati artists.
Jai Bharat Dhol Tasha Pathak USA honored the founder of TV Asia, H.R. Shah, for receiving the Padma Shri award in India and for his philanthropy. Shah was honored by chief guest Dr. Sudhir Parikh, a fellow Padma Shri awardee, and the founder of Parikh Worldwide Media. Dr. Parikh also felicitated some other community leaders at the meet.
Madhavi of Jai Bharat Dhol Tasha Pathak USA, in an interview to News India Times, said that the crowd this year enjoyed a demonstration of drums and free workshops meant to create awareness about the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
“The response was overwhelming,” said Madhavi, who started the organization with her husband Vasant Madhavi. “Our aim is to show the unity in our culture and respect the two states have for each other. We get along and support each other,” she added.
This year, the cultural festival saw 60 performers. There were 200 invited guests from Tristate area, and Philadelphia.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday greeted Gujarat and Maharashtra on the eve of their Foundation Day on May 1, speaking via video conference to members of the diaspora.
“I congratulate the citizens of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Both the states have striven to reach the heights of progress continually, contributed to the development of the nation, and a number great people born in both states have continuously inspired us,” Modi said in his monthly radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
He followed this by making an appeal to the citizens to take a vow to see where they can take their state, society and nation by the year 2022 when India celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence. He said on this occasion people should chart out their own vision of the nation.
“To be able to execute this task, one must prepare plans and must march forward with the support of all the citizens,” Modi said.