The cultural legacy of renowned 14th century poet of Mithila region, Mahakavi Vidyapati, was celebrated on December 14, 2019, in Princeton, N.J. The renowned poet is more popularly known as “Mithila Kokil”, meaning Cuckoo of Mithila. The soiree was organized by the organization ‘Maithils of North America (MoNA)’ and Association of Nepal Terrain in America (ANTA).
This was the first time that the Maithili speaking community came together to organize ‘Vidyapati Samaroh’ in North America, the press release said. However, across India and Nepal is it has been a common cultural event bringing to the forefront the rich cultural legacy of Mahakavi Vidyapati as well as eons of poets, litterateurs and artists of all hues including folk- singers, performers, stand-up comedians, organizers said.
The Dec. 14 event in Princeton was envisioned by Aprajita Mishra, president-elect of ANTA, and the core group of volunteers from both MoNA and ANTA organizations. It was patterned on other Vidyapati events organized around the world. Chief guests Dhirendra Premarshi and Rupa Jha, the renowned husband-wife artist duo came to attend all the way from Nepal to perform. They were joined by many local artists and Maithil community members who presented their own versions of songs of Vidyapati and other poets and composers. Sudha Jha , Aprajita Jha, Gauri Pandey, Shaily Jha , Meenakshi Mishra, Pushpa Mishra, Shravan Jha and Arya Jha performed many of the soul-stirring songs written and composed by Mahakavi Vidyapati that are ingrained in Mithila cultural folklore.
Prabha Jha, led the events on the stage. Pallavi Mishra conducted a quiz for the kids based on Mahakavi Vidyapati’s life and works, which saw some very spirited participation, the press release said.
Several leaders of Indian and Nepalese communities in the U.S., attended the event including Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) president Alok Kumar, current President of ANTA Vijay Singh, Treasurer of ANTA Mukesh Karna, and ANTA’s DC Chapter President Anil Dwivedy.
Hemkant Mishra, was posthumously awarded the first ‘Mithila Ratna Award’ for his outstanding contributions over the last two decades to further the culture and traditions of Mithila. His wife Vidya Mishra, accepted the award.
Authentic Maithil cuisine was served at the event including maach bhaat (rohu fish cooked in mustard oil and with a curry made of mustard paste), Dalna (a gourmet vegetable curry preparation with over half a dozen vegetable fried and cooked in tandem to perfection), olak sanna (mashed yam or jimikand spiced with mustard), aloo bidiya (potato fritters fried in a spiced-up batter of rice and chick pea flour) and Makhaan kheer (pudding made of puffed lotus seeds seasoned with dried fruits).
Others involved in organizing the event included Rita Mishra, Priti Kashyap, Arbind Jha, Alok Kashyap, Vikash Jha, and many other volunteers.
The cultural impact of Mithila region (in North Bihar) and its native language Maithili has spread over the centuries not just in Bihar and other parts of India, but also in Terai region of Nepal, where majority citizens speak Maithili as their second language, a press release from organizers said.