Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray receiving service recognition award from Chief Guest Abraham Mathai, seen with Nassau County Family Court judges and Kerala Center Board members
Independence Day &
Onam Celebrated at The Kerala Center
The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center in Elmont, Long Island celebrated Indian Independence Day and Onam with speeches by dignitaries, dance, music and an Onam feast. With the enormous growth of the community in the U.S. and New York in particular, the Kerala Center, which serves to promote the civic and socio-cultural activities among the Indian American community in the tri-state area, organizes India’s Independence Day, as a way to celebrate India’s freedom, democracy, and diversity. The celebration of the harvest festival of Onam is a way to cherish and pass on the culture and values of the ancient Indian civilization to the new generations.
Hundreds of participants, who came to the twin events that reconnected the Indian Diaspora in the New York region to their motherland and culture in a unique way on Saturday, August 21st, 2004, were treated to a delicious Onam feast, cultural extravaganza and inspiring speeches by community leaders and government officials.
Kerala Center Chairman Gopalan Nair in his welcome address said that Indain democracy is on a strong footing and called upon NRIs to rededicate to the cause of democracy and peace in India.
Abraham Mathai, an IGP with the Government of India and currently on deputation to the United Nations as Security Advisor, was the chief guest. "India has a great future among the nations of the world," he told the audience. Pointing to the fact that India has a president who is a Muslim and a Prime Minister, who is a Sikh, Mathai said, "In a country that has over 80 percent Hindus, electing minorities to the nation’s topmost positions is an example of India’s tolerance and recognizing the rights of every individual." He said, "India’s future lies in continuing with this policy of encouraging pluralism and recognizing the importance of democratic rights of every single individual."
While introducing Mathai to the audience, Dr. Thomas Abraham, a founder board member and past chairman of Kerala Center said that the common celebration organized by the several activity segments of Kerala Center is a way of cherishing the rich Indian cultural heritage and calling upon the young and the old Indian Americans to remember with gratitude their motherland, and fulfill their responsibilities towards India.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Koshy Thalackal, was introduced by V C Peter, as a great poet and writer. In his keynote address, Thalackal said, "Onam is at the center of the lives of millions of Keralites around the globe. Today, Onam has become an international festival." He urged Malayalees around the world to go beyond the celebrations of this festival and try to establish cordial and relationships and fellowship in real life. "Onam must be a celebration of our lives throughout the year," he said.
Prof. V.P. Thomaskutty, Principal, MG University Off Campus Center, Dhubai, and Rtd. Principal, St. Stephen's College Uzhavoor, Kerala said, "Onam is the celebration of our culture that needs to be passed on to the younger generations, especially those living abroad in the midst of cultures that are not our own."
Kate Murray, Superintendent of the Town of Hemstead, NY was recognized with a special service award for her committed services to the people of the town. In her response, she applauded the contributions of the Indian American community in the United States. Kerala Center, she said, has become a focal point for "fostering better understanding between the Indian and American communities." She said, "Hemstead is so blessed to have a vibrant Indian American community and we are enriched by your presence here."
For three years of volunteer services to the Malayalam Language School at Kerala Center, Christy Thottam was presented with a Plaque and a Certification of Meritorious Services to the Community. A Proclamation, recognizing the services of the Kerala Center was presented by Kate Murray and was received among others by Dr. Cecily Anto, Dr. Susy Thomas Abraham, Saraswathy Nair, and Sarakutty Menon.
There were melodious songs in Hindi, Malayalam and English sung by among others, Tara Mohan, Sajin, Sangeetha Meckatil, Loraine, Vattakalam, Annie Esthappan and Anitha Nadupparambil. Scintillating dances, Western, semi-classical and modern, were performed Kerala Center Malayalan and Dance School children by Archana Philip, Sherry Medayil, Merilyn Esthappan. A cinematic dance by the students of Beena Menon received much applause.
The climax of the event was the welcoming of King Mahabali, with Chendamelam and Thalapoli. The dances that followed gave the cheering audience a glimpse of the rich traditions of Kerala. The lives of and works of fishermen and women, people working in the paddy fields were beautifully depicted in dance forms to the delight of the audience. Finally the event concluded with a traditional Onam feast..
The celebration was chaired by Rajan Menon and while the cultural program was coordinated by Abraham Thomas.
Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center
This is the Kerala Center News letter online. Vol.4, 2004