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Sindhi Association of Southern California (SASC)


Sindhi Sammelan at Los Angeles from July 24 to July 26, 2009

Los Angeles,
By Dilip Butani

About 700 delegates from different parts of the World, including India, Australia, Taiwan, UAE, and Pakistan gathered at Westin Hotel, Los Angeles, to celebrate the 16th International Sindhi Sammelan. The event, held from July 24 to July 26, 2009, was hosted by the Sindhi Association of Southern California (SASC) and the Alliance of Sindhi Associations of Americas, Inc. The theme of the Sammelan was ‘Unlocking the future’.

The executive committee of The Alliance, over 70 members of Sindhi Council and popular artists Ghanshyam Vaswani, Kajal Chandiramani and Koshi Lalwani traveled especially for the occasion. A brief opening ceremony was held with Kala Butani and Savitri Bhatia lighting the inaugural lamps followed by a special video message from Dada J.P Vaswani was shown at the Sammelan. There were also many seminars covering religious & social issues.

The formal ceremony of the Sammelan was conducted on Saturday. The Jt. General Secretary of the Sammelan, Dilip Butani welcomed the guests and introduced speakers for the evening to join him on the podium. Chairperson Kamal Lala stated that she was confident that the elders would do everything needed to pass on Sindhi values to the younger generation. President of the Alliance, Dr Dayal Meshri said that unless the elders in the community take care to transfer traditions to the next generation, Sindhi culture would be irretrievable. With global migration, Sindhi language could be in danger of extinction as younger populations have adopted local languages in the respective countries they currently reside in. Prem Lalvani, Chairman of the Alliance was all praise for the enthusiasm displayed by youth at the event. He said Sindhis are scattered all over the world; however, a nation is not defined by a landmass, but by it culture and traditions. He recalled that in 1989, four stalwarts, Dr. Bhagwan Shahani, Judge Motilal Butani, Shankar Lakhwani and Kazi; met and envisioned the World Sindhi Congress, which eventually took place in 1994, with the first Sindhi Sammelan, in New Jersey.

SASC President Ramesh Ramnani paid tribute to the departed souls Kishore Lala and Ram Manwani whom he stated were the pillars of the Sindhi Association. He further said that since the theme of this year’s Sammelan is “Unlocking the Future” we should expose everyone to our rich and beautiful Sindhi culture through our 7000 years of values and traditions. Founder of the Sindhi Council, former Rajya Sabha Member and Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities Commission, Suresh Keswani flashbacked on the history of the culture; going back to the Sindh and Indus Valley civilizations and expressed happiness that the Government of India has created an Indus Valley Studies & Research Center which will enable Sindhis to revisit monuments, scriptures and a part of history, that will expose the great civilization to the world. President of the Sindhi Council, Amar Doultani spoke about the formation of the Sindhi Council of India and appealed to those present to help in setting up a branch of the Council in other countries. He also shared encouraging words on the richness of the Indus civilization, the original homeland of Sindhis, and suggested the formation of a global database since Sindhis have spread all over the globe. Lalwani & Meshri recognized three individuals, Dr. Bhoja Shahani, Dr. Jagat Motwani and Sheila Bablani, for their contribution to diverse social causes, and presented an award of appreciation to Kamal Lala, who served as chairperson of the Sammelan.

The youth, who were the main force behind the success of the Sammelan, surpassed their own expectations. Almost every attendee congratulated them for the wonderful contributions. As per Kavita Chugani, in only 6 monthly meetings, the Young Adults put together the bulk of the programs that were planned for the Sammelan; these included Friday Night's Young Adult Mixer, Saturday's Sindhi Cooking Session, Speed Dating, Partition Video, Intergenerational Communication, Sindhi Pride: A History, Health & Wellness Seminar, DJ Party for Young Adults at Night, Comedy Show performed by a Sindhi, Sunday's second Sindhi Cooking Session, Sindhi Jeopardy Game, and Career Pane seminar: Going Beyond the Family Business

The last mentioned seminar, "Going Beyond The Family Business - Exploring Sindhis In Non Traditional Yet Successful Careers" was a great success. The panel consisted of 5 panel speakers who were in different career paths, such as a Doctor in the military, Chef/Nurse, Bankruptcy/Immigration Lawyer, Novelist/Journalist, and Actor/Comedian/Writer. All of the speakers shared the different obstacles that were in their way while they were achieving their goals, at the same time they also shared the strengths that got them where they are today. Arit Butani, a Bankruptcy and Immigration attorney in San Francisco, CA shared his experiences and obstacles he faced throughout law school. He also acknowledged how his family always encouraged him and his brother to choose their own respective career paths. From a very young age, Arit had a great deal of exposure in the field of law, as both his parents were attorneys while his grandfather served as a judge. This early, positive influence gave Arit the insight and motivation he needed to become a successful, hardworking lawyer.

A stirring video presentation ‘Leaving their Land’, a historical perspective of the Sindhi community, made by Dr. Neil Butani, starting with the partition of India, was screened. The Sindhi youth put up a wonderful entertainment program. There were dance performances by Vijay Vaswani & Santoshi Dadlani; Nikita Mahbubani, Lesha Bhambhani & Garima Totlani, and by, Ruchi Malani, Santoshi Dadlani, Srisha Jhangiani, Divya & Manoj Cowgill, Annika & Anushka Panjwani, Trisha & Ambika Manwani, Kareena Sakhrani, Karishma & Krishna Ramnani, Trisha Lala, Sonali Chugani, Anushka Bharwani, Nikita Advani, Karishma Ahuja, Dilan Vanjani, Monica Vasandani, Shaan Rupani, Yash & Tony Tulsiani. The program also included a one-act comedy play ‘Makaan Khali Ahe’, directed by Sonia Tulsiani; the actors were Kishan Gursahani, Mahendra Ahuja, Ramesh Ramnani, Dilip & Anita Mahbubani, Raju Shewa, Kavita Lalchandani and Sunil Tulsiani. There was also a stand up comedy by Manju Uttamchandani. Both mornings started with Aasadiwar by Vijay Vaswani and a Yoga Session by Rukmani Maline. Distinctive Sindhi food flavors of Bhaji, Dal-Pakwaan, Malapura, Seyal Bhaji and others filled the buffet tables during the three-day gala event. The booths sold a variety of items from clothing to jewelry to Sadhu Vaswani Mission books. The delicious food was catered by Tandoor.

Some of the prominent Sindhis that included Dr. Narain Hingorani, Vasudev Nirmal and Dr. Hiro Badlani were honored at the Sammelan. Dilip Butani and Kavita Chugani were inducted into the Board of the Alliance of Sindhu Association of Americas, Inc.

The team that put together the wonderful show includes Kamal Lala, Ramesh Ramnani, Dilip Butani, Kishan Hingorani, Mohan & Kamla Dadlani, Chandra Ramsinghani, Anita Advani, Raju Mohnani, Anita & Dayal Punjabi, Hari Dadlani, Arit Butani, Raju & Dolly Shewa, Raju Totlani, Mohan Keswani, Anita & Dilip Mahbubani, Krishan Gursahani, Ranjit Rajwani, Keshav Khilnani, Manju Uttamchandani, Kavita Chugani, Monica Punjabi, Neil Butani, Anjali Butani, Dr Gitu Bhatia, Kavita Tekchandani, Kanchan Chugani, Anand Chulani, Sanjay Chugani, Avisha Chugani, Sonia Vaswani, Joy Mayani, Amar Shewani, Vinita Sahajwala, Sherry Melwani and Santoshi Patel.

Other Alliance team members who attended the Sammelan were Vimla Tiwari, Nand Belani, Mohan Karamchandani, Anita Chug, Gita Raisinghani, Ramola Motwani and Jr Pem Lalwani.

The next Sammelans will be held at Jakarta, in July 2010, and at Ahmedabad in 2011.





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