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Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center
This is the internet version of the Kerala Center News letter. Vol.1, 2006

Independence Day and Onam @ Kerala Center

Fashion Show:Children in costumes representing different religions and regions of India singing Indian National Anthem

Youth awardees of the Kerala Center , from L. to R.: Kerala Center Malayalam School Coordinator Abraham Thomas, Nassau County District Court Supervisor of Law Dept. Jane Shrenkel, Helen Varghese, Jorel Medayil, George Kidarathil, Poornima Thankachen, Kerala Center President Jose Chummar and Kerala Center Chairman Gopalan Nair.

Senior Citizens Group of Kerala Center Singing Malayalam songs.



The 60th anniversary of India ’s 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, September 2, 2006 at the Center’s auditorium. Sebastain Paul, a Member of Indian Parliament from Ernakulam, was the Chief Guest and delivered the Onam-and -Independence Day message. Onam, he explained, is a unique festival, in that it brings all religions together. “In these difficult times, we are proud that in Kerala we have Christians, Muslims and Hindus living peacefully,” he said. He acknowledged that there are several political differences between India and the United States , but “The United States symbolizes freedom and liberty to the world,” he added.
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’s spirit and assure him that they are happy.
The program started with a welcome by the Alex Esthappan, Chairman of the Celebration Committee. Dr. Thomas Abraham, a member of Center’s Board of Trusees introduced Jane Shrenkel, Supervisor of the Law Department at the Nassau County District Court , who in her address, lauded the contributions of the Indian community in the United States . “The Indian American community has enriched the life of the United States with significant contributions in almost every walk of life,” she said.
Earlier in the day, there was a symposium on the role of media. The symposium, attended by various civic leaders and intellectuals, was coordinated by Gopalan Nair, Chairman of the Center’s Board of Directors and moderated Kerala Center Board Member Dr. Aleyamma Eapen.
At the pubic meeting, the ceremonial lighting of the lamp was performed by District Judge Lisa Paul, wife of the visiting MP from Ernakulam and the female members Board of Directors of the Kerala Center . The event began with the National Anthems of both Indian and the United States sung beautifully by the students of the Kerala Center ’s Malayalam school. Jose Chummar, President of the Center, in his welcome speech briefly narrated the many programs and activities of the Kerala Center in the past two decades.
The entertainment at the public meeting was emceed by four youth coordinators. 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. Several dances, traditional, modern and fusion, were all part of the celebrations. Their songs, music and dances showcased their deep love and appreciation for India and its diverse culture. The Senior Citizens Group was no less captivating with their rendering of many traditional songs to the accompaniment of the musical bow. The youth talent show brought out the best in the over a dozen participants.
Four youth members of Kerala Center were honored with Certificates for their volunteer services to the Kerala Centyer and the larger community. They received their certificates from Judge Jane. King Mahabali, Kerala’s great cultural-hero, made his annual revisit, and he was accompanied by thalappoli-bearing maidens in graceful Kerala costume. Thiruvathiraa the traditional Onam dance by women was a treat to the audience. The elaborate celebrations were capped by a sumptuous Onam feast.