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Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center
This is the online version of the Kerala Center News letter. Vol.1, 2007

Independence Day and Onam @ The Kerala Center

Consul Praveen Kumar of the Indian Consulate inaugurates the celebration with lighting of the lamp

Kerala Center Malayalam School children singing American and Indian national anthems.

King Mahabali making annual visit and welcomed by Kerala women in traditional dress.

Kerala Center honors New York Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert W. Schmidt for his public service. From L. to R.: Dr. Thomas Abraham, G. Mathai, Kerala Center Executive Director E.M. Stephen, Joyan Mathew, Kerala Center Board Chairman Gopalan Nair, Peter Neendoor, Raju Thomas , Justice Schimdt, Indian Consul Praveen Kumar, Mahor Harry Anand, Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santiano and Kerala Center President Jose Chummar.



The 60th anniversary of India ís Independence Day and Onam, the harvest festival of Malayalees across the globe, were organized by The Indian-American Kerala Cultural & Civic Center, Inc. on Saturday, August 25th, 2007 at the Centerís auditorium. Over 300 people from the New York area filled the Kerala Center in Elmont , New York for a fun filled evening with traditional Kerala dances and music along with Bhangara and other Indian dances. The evening program started with the National Anthems of both India and the United States sung beautifully by the students of the Kerala Center ís Malayalam school.

The more than four hours long program started with introductory remarks by John Paul, Program Co-Chair and the welcome address was delivered by Jose Chummar, President of the Kerala Center . He said that under the leadership of Mr. E. M. Stephen, the founder President of the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center (IAKC & CC) - The Kerala Center was formed as a non profit community service organization in 1990. Over the years, the Kerala Center has become a focal point to coordinate activities and services not only to the Kerala Community but the whole the Indian American community. There are Malayalam language, music and dance classes for children, SAT coaching for youngsters. Various seminars are conducted ranging from political to investment, in addition to many civic and cultural activities taking place on a regular basis at the Kerala Center . The Center has also been providing platform for various political leaders to have Town Hall meetings with the Indian Community.

In his inaugural address, Praveen Kumar, Consul for Political and Community Affairs at the Indian Consulate in New York, said, "I am proud and privileged to be a Malayalee" and want to celebrate this great Onam festival and India Independence Day with the award recipient this evening and all members of this great state that is Kerala. "With the enormous growth of the Indian community in the U.S. and New York in particular, the Kerala Center has served to promote the civic and other social service activities among the Indian American community,Ē Kumar added.

Praveen Kumar inaugurated the public meeting with the lighting of the lamp and he was joined by his wife Grishma, Mayor Harry S. Anand of the Village of Mount Laurel and members of the Board of Directors of the Kerala Center . The Onam Message was delivered by Gopalan Nair, Chairman of Kerala Centerís Board of Directors. He said that Onam is a unique festival that has roots in Hindu mythology. Onam is celebrated throughout the state by people of all faiths. Mythology has it that King Mahabali ruled Kerala for a long time, and extended his reign to the heavens. Threatened by him, Lord Vishnu reincarnated as Vamana Avatar and outwitted Mahabali, whose last wish was that he be allowed to visit his people once a year. Onam is the festival where people welcome their king in high spirit and assure him that they are happy.

Harry S. Anand, the newly elected Mayor of the Village of Laurel Hollow on Long Island, lauded the efforts of the Kerala Center to provide a forum for Indian Americans to come together and take efforts to participate in the mainstream American politics. "The United States is one of the few nations in the world, where you are encouraged to maintain oneís own culture," he said. The first Indian American to be elected as a Mayor in New York State , Anand, appealed the audience, particularly the younger generation to take an active role in the mainstream American politics. "My election must inspire many more Indian Americans to come forward and take leadership role in the mainstream life in our adopted land," he said.

King Mahabali, the legendary king, made his annual visit, with nearly two dozen women dressed in elegant Keralaís traditional attire, welcoming him to the podium with Thalappoli, even as the loud Melam filled the hall. In his message, he praised Kerala center as the only group in New York which has stayed united and has been a symbol of unity to the entire Malayalee community in America . The Thiruvathira, the traditional Onam dance by women was much appreciated by the audience.

The entertainment segment of the public meeting was coordinated by Abraham Thervalakattayil, the Principal of Malayalam school at The Kerala Center and emceed by the youth coordinators of the Center. The fancy dress by children below eight years old brought out the rich and diverse cultural heritage of India , just as it displayed the talents of these young kids. The cultural extravaganza was beautifully prepared by Chandrika and Lakshmi of the Nupura School of Arts and was presented by the students of the same. Classical, semi-classical and cinematic dances and music by talented children were a treat to the hearts and minds of the participants.

The Kerala Center ís seniors group sought to outdo the talents of the youth and children by beautifully performing the traditional Kerala dance Thiruvathira, Ona Sadhya, a comedy show, and the popular Vallamkali. The outgoing teachers of Malayalam school, Justin Thottam, Jenice Chummar, and Sherry Medayil were awarded the certificates and plaque. The eventís highlight was a Bhangada dance presented by the Malayalam School Senior Group Children. The event, concluded with a traditional Kerala Onam Sadhya.

Dr. Thomas Abraham, a member of Centerís Board of Trustees introduced Associate Justice of New York State Supeme Court as recipient of Kerala Center Award for Public Service. Judge Schmidt thanked the Center for this honor and said, ďThe Indian American community has enriched the life of the United States with significant contributions in almost every walk of life.Ē Hempstead Town honored the Kerala Centger with a proclamation and was presented to Kerala Center President Chummar by Councilman Anthony J. Santino.

Earlier in the day, a symposium on "Domestic Harmony: How to Face & Solve Family Discord" was led by Rani Maleikal, president of Pragathi Inc. Members of the Kerala Literary Association and other participants actively participated and discussed the reasons for conflicts in family life, and sought to make find ways to face and overcome them in order to lead a happy married life.