Entertainments galore at Global Gujarati meet

The start of the Meet
The start of the Meet

EDISON, NJ: The second edition of the 3-day Global Gujarati Conference organized by the Friends of Gujarat had all the ingredients of entertainment to enthrall the Gujarati Diaspora in New Jersey. Entertainers who flew in especially from Gujarat gave out nostalgic fare to the local population taking them down memory to lane.

Dayro, folk song, folk dance, Shaurya (valor) dance, Garbas, Beda dance and Hasya Darbar from renowned performers like Praful Dave, Bhartiben Vyas, Bhikudan Gadhvi, Yogesh Gadhvi, Smriti Irani, Vatsala Patil and a host of other performers and dance groups from Ahmedabad and Vadodara including Panghat group won the heart of the Gujaratis settled in New Jersey with their spellbinding bound performances.

This is not to overlook traditional Gujarati food including Puran Polis, Undhiyu and other delicacies that people enjoyed during the event which was aptly titled `Bhavya Ane Divya Gujarat’.

For once the organizers did not resort to long tedious speeches by politicians, though not many from Gujarat made it. Some of whom who did were Smriti Irani, Jayanti Barot, Jayanti Kavadia, Dhanraj Kella, Shankarbhai Vegad, MP from Surendranagar. The elected officials and BJP MPs from Gujarat were so overwhelmed by the entertainment that they did not miss an opportunity to dance to the Gujarati folk songs rendered by the artists.

The event did not attract as much audience as the organizers had anticipated. However they could cover some ground of the second and third day after a word of mouth was spread about the program that captured the heart of the audience.

At the Raritan Expo Center venue anything and everything was Gujarati. Be it the traditional welcome with the lighting of the Diya, the Gujarati Garba, the welcome arch, Gujarati décor, the local dialect and not to forget the traditional food. For a moment one thought as if one was roaming in Manek Chowk.

Talking to this correspondent in an exclusive interview, Kirit Patel, president of Friends of Gujarat said the aim of organizing this event is to keep the Gujarati culture alive within the second generation of Guajaratis who have made America their new home.

“We intend to provide them the necessary platform to know what Gujarat is, how it has emerged as a land of opportunity in India and at the same time keeping the traditional Gujarati values intact”, Kirit said. He added, “The conference proved to be the launching pad to exchange ideas of economic, business success stories between the younger generation in Gujarat and their counterpart settled in the USA. There are many young entrepreneurs who run businesses worth Rs 200 crore set up through their own ideas and investment and have been successful. We want them to interact with budding Gujarati entrepreneurs and businessmen who can plan such investment back in Gujarat so as to take Gujarat to the next level of industrialization.”

The conference also showcased some of the traditional items from Gujarat which were put up for sale at the venue. Some of the property dealers also set up their stalls to highlight their construction activities vis-à-vis housing projects. Many local vendors and television channels had also put up their stalls to showcase their exhibits.

Asked to comment on the BJP spokesperson and vice-president Smriti Irani leaving the event in a huff after she alleged that chief minister Narendra Modi was ignored at the three-day Global Gujarati Conference, Kirit defended himself saying, “if you look at the 150 feet stage there is not one poster or picture of any one leader, be it chief minister or even Mahatma Gandhi or Sardar Patel. This event is purely for the entertainment of Gujaratis and we want to highlight Gujarat and its achievement.

“The incident had nothing to do with getting any political mileage from this; nor am I aspiring for any post anywhere in Gujarat.”
When asked about the total cost of the project, Kirit was hesitant in giving a specific figure but said it could anywhere from $ 750,000 to $ 1.2 million. “We will make every effort to cut the cost so as to enable us to collect some funds and donate them for a noble cause like educating orphaned children in Jammu and Kashmir and also provide them with basic education, food and clothing. He said, “As many 300 such children have already migrated from Jammu and Kashmir and made Gujarat their second home. They were presently housed in Kheda district. The proceeds from this event will also go towards the Swami Vivekananda Smarak being planned by Narendra Modi”, he added.

Shyamaben Mehta, who once resided in Patasa Ni Pole in Ahmedabad, said, “for once I went down memory lane and visualized myself dancing during the Navratri festival. After a long time I could enjoy some real Gujarati music and dance. My heart went back to my house, which no longer exists as I have now settled here with my children and grandchildren”.

Expressing similar sentiments, another lady Damyantiben Patel of Nava Wadaj said, “I enjoyed the way Praful Dave came down from the stage and sang his heart out with the audience. Rarely do they do this during their show in Gujarat. I loved the entertainment aspect to the entire event which was the true spirit of Gujarat and Gujaratis”.

Sudhir Vyas

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