Rajasthan’s Maheshwari community holds 11th Convention in Houston

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Opening ceremony with lighting of the lamps at the Rajasthani Maheshwari convention in Houston over the Thanksgiving weekend starting Nov. 24, 2022. Seen in photo Dr. Renu Devi, Ghanshyam Heda, Raj Malani, Jugal Malani, Abhilasha Rathi. Photo: organizers

The Maheshwari community of Rajasthan living in Texas, came together on November 24, 2022 Thanksgiving weekend to enjoy its culture and connect with each other at the 11th International Maheshwari and Rajasthani Convention (IMRC) held at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston.

Organizers said in a press release that the event was “well attended” with more than 900 people enjoying a packed schedule of events.

Hosted by the Southwest chapter of the Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America, MMNA, nearly 150 volunteers worked tirelessly for the last six months to prepare for the event, the press release said.

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The convention was kicked off by Convenor Sharad Mantri, National President Abhilasha Rathi, Board of Trustees Chair Ghanshyam Heda and Co-Convenors Archana Bhakkad and Sanjay Jajoo.

Guests of Honor included Shailesh Lodha, Dr Ruma Devi, Kartikeya Baldwa, Chancellor of the Houston University System Renu Khator, and the Consul General of India Aseem Mahajan.

Highlights at the Convention included a trip to a ranch, Ghoomar dances, creative breakout sessions, musical night, Mahasangram, Mahesh Tank, professional networking, Children’s Talent show, Matrimony sessions, Diet Planning and Yoga sessions.

Rajasthani decoration by Bhagwan and Sangeeta Bhutada gave an ambiance to the 11th Convention to mirror the culture of Rajasthan. Photo: organizers.

More than 115 participants portrayed various Rajasthani festivals through drama and dance starting with the graceful Ghoomar dance performed by more than 40 women jumpstarted the cultural segment.

“Ristey-Reet-Riwaj” was the theme of the performance.

Speaking in Hindi Rathi said that the beautiful ghoomar dance seemed to have transported everyone for a little while to Rajasthan.

“I feel fortunate to be part of the MMNA pariwar and proud to be a Rajasthani Maheshwari!” Rathi added.

Convenor Sharad Mantri noted that the more than 900 attendees had come from all over the world. This convention, he revealed, “made history by involving every age group from toddlers to seniors and created positive vibes in the youth for IMRC.” The Education Foundation of MMNA also raised $115,000, he added.

The event “Mahasangram” symbolizing the conflict between generations generated a great deal of interest and dealt with issues such as family values and the relations between parents and children.

Mahesh Tank saw entrepreneurs making business presentations to a panel of four investors.

The MMNA Matrimonial Session announced the launch of a mobile app to help Maheshwaris and Rajasthanis find their special someone. A silent auction was also held for the Rajasthani artwork submitted by the participants.

In a unique move, on Saturday, more than 770 attendees crowded into 14 school buses to visit a ranch, most of them dressed in cowboy attire, and enjoyed TexMex cuisine at that location.

Members of the Rajasthanis Abroad Youth Samaj pose for a photo at the 11th International Convention held in Houston on Thanksgiving weekend starting November 24, 2022. Photo: organizers.

The Rajasthanis Abroad Youth Samaj (RAYS) was equally involved, organizers said, taking the lead as emcees, coordinators, welcoming the attendees and helping those in need. President of RAYS Sarika Malani noted that around 200 youth joined the activities which ranged from professional networking to card-making for the Texas Children’s Hospital. “This event re-invigorated the youth, and they were excited at being a part of the convention,” Malani said.

A RAYS member said, “RAYS has given me a connection to Maheshwari culture and roots that no other platform has been able to provide in my life. Our RAYS group chat of youth members has been flooded with messages from new attendees all over the country talking about how incredible their first experience was!”

Participants in the typical Rajasthani dance Ghoomer, pose for a photo at the 11th International Convention in Houston, over the Thanksgiving weekend starting November 24, 2022. Photo: organizers.

A live musical concert by a team of 14 performers from Niche Entertainment, India regaled the attendees on the Grand Gala Nite.  The event concluded on Sunday with the closing ceremony, annual awards, and volunteer appreciations.

Sushma Pallod received the Lifetime Achievement Award for selfless work and dedication to the community; Jitendra Muchhal and Padam Maheshwari received special recognition awards.

Organizers thanked donors and volunteers for making the Convention a success.

A souvenir was released and distributed to life members.

Authentic Rajasthani delicacies were part of every meal catered by Maharaja Bhog of Houston, and the ambiance of the décor displayed a Rajasthani flavor.

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