HindiUSA’s Annual Hindi Mahotsava Draws Large Crowds

HindiUSA students at the Graduation Ceremony at its 22nd annual Hindi Mahotsava, held May 20 & 21, 2023 at the Piscataway High School in New Jersey,.PHOTO: courtesy HindiUSA

More than 2,500 people from the tristate area gathered to enjoy two full days of activity at HindiUSA’s Hindi Mahotsava held May 20 and 21, 2023, at the Piscataway High School in New Jersey.

In a special graduation ceremony which was part of the Mahotsava, 150 students were awarded diplomas and prizes for completing the 9-level coursework at the organization’s schools. Also present at the event were Piscataway Township Mayor Brian Wahler, Piscataway Township Councilman Kapil Shah, community leaders Dhiren Amin, Sharad Agrawal and more. “The presence of local political and school board officials authenticates the academic value of our coursework and appreciation of Indian culture,” said Raj Mittal, co-founder of HindiUSA to News India Times in an exclusive interview.

Like every year, preparations for this year’s 22nd Hindi Mahotsava went on for months, with volunteers planning the two day’s activities along with a culture fair with stalls of Indian clothing, jewelry, financial counseling services and insurance. Stalls of Indian food were also part of the fair, drawing crowds.

Children performing a skit at the HindiUSA’s 22nd annual Hindi Mahotsava held May 20 & 21, 2023 at the Piscataway High School in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of HindiUSA.

More than 1000 kids, mostly from New Jersey and Connecticut, showcased their talents in many areas. “We had skits and dramas, poetry competition, and a jeopardy-style competition testing knowledge of Hindi, ” Mittal said. 30 finalists, selected from 4,000 students, presented their poems at the poetry competition, judged by impartial judges selected from experts who were not related to the participants.

About HindiUSA:     Non-profit HindiUSA is one of the largest volunteer organizations in the US dedicated to promoting the Hindi language and Indian culture. While Hindi is being promoted through Vishwa Hindi Conferences at the expense of thousands of dollars,  HindiUSA has been working without any external funding or donations at the grassroots level in the US, recruiting dedicated and committed volunteers, and teaching Hindi and Indian culture. HindiUSA holds its annual Hindi Mahotsava in the month of May, to recognize the young students’ language prowess and to provide a platform to showcase their talents.

HindiUSA was formed in 2001 by Devendra Singh and Rachita Singh. “Hindi language has an integral connection to Indian culture. And we felt it was important to bring awareness of both the language and the culture among our children born and brought up here,” said Mittal. “We did not want to wait till we had retired to have more time for such activities. We wanted to begin right away as soon as the need was felt,” he said.

HindiUSA Curriculum, Teachers & Schools:       According to Mittal, the first Hindi school began in the basement of a house with 6 students. HindiUSA soon began holding its classes in a rented classroom of an Edison school, also acquiring more volunteers. In an effort to familiarize US born students with Hindi, teachers of HindiUSA schools speak only in Hindi in the classrooms.

Hindi is taught currently at 9 different levels to students ages 9 to 17 years of age. Classes are held every Friday from 7 to 8:30 in the evenings, and are based on a detailed curriculum, with homework assignments. All the teachers are volunteers, trained by HindiUSA to become classroom teachers, using the organization’s books and curriculum.

“By 2006, as we became acquainted with our students in the US, their needs and requirements, we started writing the curriculum here instead of using India based syllabus,” Mittal said. He said the current course books and detailed curriculum for all 9 levels were written by Rachita Singh. The curriculum and online student registration form can be viewed on HindiUSA website at www.HindiUSA.org.

A stage performance by the young at the Hindi Mahotsava held May 20 & 21, 2023 at the Piscataway High School in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of HindiUSA.

Today HindiUSA has 26 schools in 8 different states and 500 volunteers. 17 of the schools are in New Jersey, according to Mittal. Other schools are in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina and California, with a student total of 4,000 students, Mittal said. Managing and streamlining the program at all the schools requires good organization, commitment and dedication from responsible volunteers, and Rachita Singh heads that list, Mittal said. “Once the kids graduate, they also become volunteers and teach other kids,” he added.

Educational Tours to India: An important annual feature of HindiUSA’s education is getting first-hand acquaintance with India and Indian culture. With this aim, HindiUSA organizes an adult-accompanied tour of India, selecting 14 students for this trip. Educational trips in India to schools and colleges, temples, the rajya sabha, the lok sabha, and meeting with the Rashtrapati and more are organized by HindiUSA’s volunteers in India, Mittal said. “The only expense is for the air tickets which are paid for by the parents,” Mittal said.

Other Activities:       HindiUSA also holds other cultural activities during the year, including celebrations of Holi, Diwali, and India’s Republic Day on 26th January. In a new feature, this year the organization held a ‘Matru Pitru Pooja Diwas’ in 6 schools with a priest conducting the pooja. “It was received very enthusiastically by the students and the parents,” Mittal said. “We hope to create an awareness through this of the important role parents play in their children’s upbringing and education,” Mittal said.

Truly Non-Profit:     HindiUSA may be the only organization which does not hold any fundraisers, or use any grant money, or have any membership fees. Their Hindi Mahotsavas are open to all. Mittal said the organization manages its education related expenses from the annual student fee of $260 per student, in which they also give many discounts. Everyone else, including the teachers, is a volunteer. “We meet our expenses from our fees, which is mainly used for the graduation ceremony, the prizes and the sweets for the students at the Mahotsava,” Mittal said. At the end of the year, in December, a reception is organized in appreciation of the volunteers. “Everyone is happy and motivated,” he said.



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