India Post News Service
Long Beach, CA: Shivaji Maharaj Antarrashtriya Parivar (SMAP) celebrated 2023 Shiv Jayanti at Jordan High School Auditorium in Long Beach under the leadership of SMAP founder Vijay Patil and the current president Ashok Madan. The event was attended by a nearly full house despite the inclement weather. The master of ceremonies was a former Miss India and Bollywood actress Manasvi Mamgai.
The event started with traditional lamp lighting by the dignitaries and the organizers followed by the display of popular Marathi drum beats called Dhol Tasha. It was a very well-coordinated drum beat by a group of over 50 people ranging from children to adults and loved by the audience. While Dhol Tasha beats were going on, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s statue was paraded on a Palkhi in the hall. After the parade, Mrs. Kamlesh Chauhan did the honors to move Shivaji’s statue from Palkhi to the stage for a flower offering.
SMAP President Ashok Madan, Founder Vijay Patil, and committee members spoke about the importance of Shivaji Jayanti and thanked the sponsors, volunteers, and organizers for their support. Bharat Saoji, an organizer and committee member spoke about the goals of SMAP. Ashutosh Khisti, an organizer, highlighted the endorsements by Hon’ PM of India Mr. Narendra Modi, Transport Minister of India Mr. Gadakari, CM of Gujarat Mr. Bhupendra Patel, CM of Goa and CGI in San Francisco Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad and displayed their congratulatory messages on screen.
Cerritos High School student leader and SMAP Youth President, Anika Patil updated the audience about the two clubs that were established in Mountain House High School, California, and Seymore High School, Connecticut. She appealed to the other youth members to take the lead in establishing similar Youth Clubs in their high schools. Ramesh Thalli explained the purpose of establishing SMAP Academy. Council Member from the City of La Palma, Hon’ Nitesh Patel delivered the Keynote speech and expressed his pride in following and keeping up with his Indian traditions and encouraged everyone to do the same. He also recognized the organizers with the certificates of honor on behalf of City of La Palma council.
In memory of his son Ankur Dube, Ajoy Dube, an Indian community leader presented cash awards to five students who took part in essay writing about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He announced that he will offer these awards every year from now on.
The main highlight of the program was the live drama on stage on the life of Maharana Pratap. It was so beautifully choreographed, played, and presented by Los Angeles Films Theater and Arts (LAFTA) that it kept the whole auditorium to pin-drop silence. The actors were no others than ordinary working people and their children who took their time off from their daily working routine and school classes to put together this magnificent piece of display.
The audience also enjoyed the beautiful Kathak dance and Garba dances choreographed by Aarti Manek and Surekha Modi respectively. The celebration also included the republication of 10 historic books written by Itihasacharya Shri VS Bendrey. His granddaughter is in the process of republishing all 60+ books that Shri VS Bendery has written decades ago.
Shivaji Maharaj’s story was displayed on screen to highlight his life. The event curtain came down with Aparna Hande, a community leader, delivering the vote of thanks to the audience, sponsors, artists, and all participants.