Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

The Konkani family of Northern California hosted the 10th edition of the Konkani Sammelan 2022 in San Jose, CA, the heart of Silicon Valley, which had quadrennial confluence of Konkanis from across North America. This grand event that cherishes Konkani cultural heritage was held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center from July 2-4th, 2022. Over 1200 Konkanis from different parts of the USA, Canada and India attended the event.

The two-and-half day event highlights sumptuous Konkani food, entertainment, seminars and workshops. Konkan is a stretch of land by the west coast of India, running from Damaon in the north to Karwar in the south, with the Arabian Sea to the west and the Western Ghats in the east.

Sammelan is organized once every 4-years to keep our Community together and strong. We are working on several ideas in (1) Promoting our Culture, Heritage, and Language, (2) Creating more networking opportunities for the Konkani Community, including Youth and Young adults, said Ram Acharya, President. With the convention being held after three years due to Covid-19 restrictions, the organizers left no stone unturned to make it a grand event.

Initiated in 1996, these Sammelans have been held across various locations in North America such as Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and New Jersey.

The number of attendees has increased progressively along with the steadily growing numbers of the Konkani diaspora in North Americas. These Sammelans have fulfilled the goal of preserving the Konkani identity and continuity of heritage among the immigrants in the American continent.

It serves as an effective forum in connecting families, fostering new relationships while reinforcing Konkani identity and culture, said Ram Acharya, President, Konkani Sammelan 2022. Our experiences with the Sammelan have inspired us to continue the mission to unite Konkanis across North America. We worked from 2020 with a team of dedicated individuals in the Bay to bring you three fun-filled days of arts and entertainment, intellectual discussions, educational workshops, and delicious, authentic Amchigele cuisine, added Ram and Aruna Acharya, Presidents, Konkani Sammelan 2022.

The donors from all the chapters of Konkani associations were extremely generous and attendees were ecstatic and enjoyed the three-day festivities. Ace Badminton player Prakash Padukone presented the awards to the people who were selected by the Awards committee under different categories for their contributions.

The event began with a musical concert by Shankar Mahadevan, Rasika and Geetesh Iyer. Shankar shares that it was a great experience to be with people and celebrate after a gap of two years. He adds that it was “a unique and an unusual experience” to be performing for a huge gathering and representing India’s culture and music. I feel so proud that I got to be a part of the prestigious event which is being attended by Konkanis from across the world, added Shankar.

A proud and accomplished Konkani, Deepika Padukone was the Chief guest for the event along with her husband Ranveer SIngh. A fireside chat was hosted  with the actor by second-generation Konkani youths. Deepika Padukone spoke on her childhood, professional experience and opened up about her personal struggle with depression in 2015. The actor has, since then, launched a mental health awareness foundation, ‘Live, Love, Laugh’, and spoken extensively about the issue on several platforms. Padukone’s story inspired not just one person, but likely millions. Deepika added she is comfortable speaking Konkani and dalithoy is her go-to food.

A lot of the life I live today is based on sport,” says Deepika, “that routine and discipline.” As a kid growing up in Bangalore, she recalls waking up at four-thirty in the morning on school days for training, then racing to school, after which she’d stop home for just enough time to grab a snack before heading out for another practice session. Chhapaak was the first film undertaken by Ka Productions, a company formed by Padukone in 2018. Serving as a producer puts her in the driver’s seat for creative and operational decisions. “I think it really gives me an opportunity to change a lot of things that I’ve seen go amiss as an actor.  “You reach a stage in your life where you wake up thinking, ” What is it that I want to be remembered for? And what is it that I want to leave behind?” she says.

While she was the chief guest, husband Ranveer Singh also accompanied her and even made a brief stage appearance. During this appearance, the actor won over the audience’s hearts as he spoke a few lines in Konkani.

Visual artist Vilas Nayak performed live at the Sammelan. He has done live art performances at Asia’s Got Talent, UN General Assembly, NBA half-time and India’s Got Talent, among others. Self-taught artist Vilas Nayak is Asia’s fastest speed painter. Hailing from Ujire, Mangaluru, he is now settled in Bengaluru. Vilas quit his corporate job to follow his passion and has performed in more than 36 countries.

The cultural programmes organized showcased the efforts of Konkanis in America to safeguard Konkani Language and cultural heritage. The classical dances from various local dance schools and the local professional singers enthralled the audience with their performances. Over 250 performers showcased flawless execution of the event with world-class entertainment programs and scrumptious konkan cuisine.