By A Correspondent
Aurora, IL: The Federation of Gujarati Association of North America (FOGANA)’s 30th Midwest region raas, garba and folk dance competition hosted by Gujarati Samaj Chicago at Paramount Theater here on July 31 was an enjoyable cultural feast. As many as 27 teams consisting of 500 artists, who participated in the competition, regaled the 2,000 attendees for seven hours.
The celebration was dedicated to Swarnim Gujarat — the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Gujarat state in India. Niranjan Shah of Globetrotters and his wife Pratima Shaha were the chief guests and Dr. Bharat Barai and his wife Dr. Panna Barai were the guests of honor.
In all 27 teams participated in the competition held in 11 categories. The categories were Minor Garba (three teams), Minor Raas (three teams), Junior Garba (five teams), Junior Folk Dance (two teams), Junior Raas (four teams), Senior Garba (three teams), Senior Folk Dance (two teams), Senior Raas (one team), Adult Garba (two teams), Adult Folk Dance (two teams) and Adult Raas (one team).
In the keenly contested competitions, Kala Darshan of Michigan (choreographer —Raksha Dave) won the Minor Garba; Srujan Dance of Chicago (choreographer – Swati Shah) won the Minor Raas; Gurjari of Chicago (choreographer – Kaku Shah) won the Junior Garba; Jankar (choreographer – Raksha Dave) won the Junior Folk Dance; Ankur Gujarati Samaj (choreographer – Neeti Chok-shi) won the Junior Raas; Nartan Group of Detroit (choreographer – Raksha Dave) won Senior Garba; Gujarati Samaj of Chicago (choreographer – Khushbu Desai) won Senior Folk Dance; Gujarati Mandal of Central Ohio (choreographers — Palak Thaker and Kishan Patel) won Senior Raas; Gunjan Group of Chicago Sejal (choreographer — Kadakia) won the Adult Garbha; Darpan (choreographer — Raksha Dave) won Adult Folk Dance; and Gurjari of Chicago (choreographer- Jenis-Kakul) won Adult Raas.
Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Award instituted by Gujarati Samaj, Chicago, was given to Dr. Umang Patel. The award, instituted in memory and honor of the “Iron Man of India” is awarded once or twice every decade to a person of Gujarat-origin for his or her meritorious in the areas of cultural, educational, social humanitarian services to Indian Gujarati community in the USA and abroad.
Earlier, the competition began with the lighting of a traditional lamp by the members of executive committee, the chief guests and the guests of honor. Artists of Mudra Dance Academy presented a prayer dance — Om Namah Shivaya — choreographed by Kshama Shah. The national anthems of India and the US were sung by Neena Parikh.
Mukesh Shah, president of Gujarati Samaj Chicago, who welcomed the guests, said: “Thirty years have passed since we have installed the flag of FOGANA and written our lofty ideas in its constitution. Using the talents of many personalities, we have almost finished the rotation of leadership from different regions. The overall impression is one of great success in achieving unity and respect for our culture.”
He said that FOGANA had definitely created enthusiasm, tempo, dialogue, search and respect for the Indian culture, art, music, song, languages and literature “Without FOGANA, we may become confused and likely to get swept away from our values. We may not totally remove foreign forces from our lives, but we can at least stall them to create base to shape our direction. We are rightfully concerned about our country of origin. There is an anonymous aphorism that you can take a man out of a country, but you cannot take the country out of the man. Our background and land of origin are in us and we will always survive with the miracle medicine or FOGANA,” he added.
Mukesh Shah said that the participants, choreographers, their managers and volunteers worked very hard to prepare for this program. He thanked board members of the Gujarati Samaj Chicago and volunteers, who spent many hours to make the program possible and successful. He also thanked the sponsors and audience for their patronage.
Niranjan Shah, Dr. Bharat Barai, FOGANA steering committee chair Kshama Shah, its vice chair Urvashi Patel, Mayor of Aurora Tom Weisnes, Dr. Umang Patel, Jashwant Sheth, spoke appreciating the services of Gujarati Samaj Chicago and FOGANA for working relentlessly to sustain India’s culture and heritage through art, dance, and music in the US.
Kaushik Shah, vice president, introduced 2010 executive committee members — President: Mukesh Shah; Arvind Modi: secretary; Dipak Shah: Assistant secretary; Bharat Mehta: treasurer; Piyush Desai: joint treasurer; Birju Shah: cultural secretary; and Devendra Parikh: joint cultural secretary. The board members were Amit Desai, Suryakant Patel, Kamlesh Shah, Bhupendra Bhatt, Nikunj Baxi, Kunja Parikh, and Harsha Modi. The past president was Girish Kothari and FOGANA steering Committee chair and vice chair respectively were Kshama Shah and Urvashi Patel.
Birju Shah introduced the judges Uma Nagarseth (Texas), Pratima Shah (Texas), Mona Iadov (Georgia), Bina Mehta (Virginia), Bharti Nana (Maryland), Pravina Mehta (New York, and Bina Desai (New Jersey).
Mukesh Shah proposed a vote of thanks.