KOJAIN holds successful 7th annual Sammelan in Chicago

Chicago IL: After seven months of careful planning, The Kachchhi Oswal Jain Association in North America (KOJAIN) pulled itself up by its bootstraps to host a successful 7th annual Sammelan in Chicago IL. KOJAIN was held at the Holiday Inn Express, 3405 Algonquin Road, Rolling Meadows, IL from 27th, 28th and 29th July of 2012. Close to 700 people enjoyed the 3 days Sammelan. Current Membership for KOJAIN is 1138 families in North America and 65 families are in Illinois.

Attendees participated in numerous educational seminars, panel discussions and lectures by renowned speakers. The convention also featured Workshops, yoga for adults, meetings and entertainment by eminent artists.

KOJAIN includes all Kachchhi Oswal Jains originally coming from Kachchh, Northwestern part of Gujarat State in India. 1400 households have made their homes in North America. Majority of KOJAIN community lives in North America with the biggest concentration in California, New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Tri State Area, Chicago Area, Houston Area, Toronto-Canada Area, Washington DC Area, South New Jersey Area and Atlanta Area. The KOJAIN Sammelan 2008 drew people from USA, Canada as well as people from India. This biennial Sammelan’s theme ‘Panjo Rangeelo Kutch’ was unique for its People, Culture, Art, Architecture, Customs, Clothes and Language.

The theme defines their homeland, their heritage, their culture and their people and highlighted the colors of Kutch throughout the weekend. The theme reflected Kutchchhi heritage which is rapidly changing and may be in danger of disappearing as we move forward into the 21st Century. The rationale of this event was to keep that tradition alive and hand it over to the new generation with a desire that they will continue to keep this tradition alive and pass along to their future generations. In addition to the main event, a range of exhibitions provided further information on their proud heritage; artifacts were displayed about their culture which aimed to provide interesting information not only to the present generation but also to the new generations of Kutchchhi.

The Chicago Kutchchhi community hosted this Sammelan which offered a wonderful opportunity to interact with many kutchchhi families who attended the seminar from many different parts of the World. The opening ceremony was graced by the presence of Liladhar M. Gada, Founder Trustee of Bhojay Sarvoday Trust, Bhojay, Kachchh, popularly known as ‘ADHA’, who was the keynote speaker on Saturday, July 28.

They had organized some of the convention favorites such as a garba raas and a statewide talent show but this year they introduced new and fresh events such as an Interactive Bollywood Night and Kutch Utsav.

The following Awards were given to recognize significant contributions made by Kutchis.
1) Shree Liladhar Manek Gada (Addha) received ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his significant contributions to the Kutchis and people of Kutch through his selfless humanitarian work.
2) Mrs. Rita K. Batheja received an award for significant contribution in the field of Science (Health care).

With the backdrop of beautiful Chicago, home to a vibrant Kutchchhi and Jain community, arrangements were made for a visit to the Jain temple in Bartlett and an exciting Kutchchhi Race for youths / young adults through the bustling streets of downtown Chicago. Large attendance was observed at the Entrepreneurship Workshop in addition to the workshops on Medicine and Financial Planning. Other workshops included Vegan Cooking, Spiritual and Religious and youth workshops. The most important feature of this convention was to allow people reconnect with family and friends and build new connections for the future in large numbers ranging from kids to elders.

Welcome speech was given by Mayur Ganger, Chairman of the host committee. He stated that the ultimate purpose of the Kojain Sammelan was to bring different generations from all over the Nation under one roof to celebrate the Kutchchi culture. “We are excited to commemorate the unity of our heritage while also exemplifying our valuable traditions. The beauty of our customs will be embraced as we come together to showcase the greatness of our culture, ” he said.

He thanked all his friends and family for helping him coordinate this event. He specially acknowledged the assistance given by Mr. Louis Shah, Mr. Shanti Chhadwa and Mr. Arvind Kotak.
Arvind Kotak, Louis Shah, Mayur Ganger; and Shanti Chhadwa welcomed everyone to the 7th KOJAIN Sammelan. They thanked all the donors and sponsors at the local, national and international level who helped organize this memorable Sammelan.

Kachchhis, just as all Indians, love movies and music. And the concept of having a bash Bollywood style took birth with the quintessential Bollywood story of a man from a village in Kachchh dreaming of making it big in Mumbai film industry.

The show opens with Popatlal, as the protagonist is called, who is caught dreaming by his brother when the brother arrives from Mumbai to meet him. The story of Popatlal’s journey from Kachchh to Mumbai and then eventually back to Kachchh is interspersed with several twists and turns with his Mumbai-based brother trying to give him tutelage on ways to become a superstar. There were several music and dance performances based on folklore such as Bhavayee and Kachchhi song Gajiyo, qawwalis and hindi film music, intertwined with the story—a creative way for the organizers to give in-state and out-of-state attendees a chance to perform and the story to provide learning experiences for Popatlal’s character. Also interspersed was the game of Antakshari that was played by the entire audience. They were divided into 4 teams — the Khans, Kapoors, Khannas and the Bachchans. The rounds included the traditional dhun round played live and video prelude, etc. Audience interaction also included impromptu dancing to Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali songs. The dance floor was then opened to keep the party going late into the night.

Bollywood Night concept, planning, organization and execution of the event was done by Vidhya Gangar, Nirav Shah, Vipul Dedhia, Amit Shah, Vipuj Shah, Saloni Jain, Hemang Srikishan, Pooja Shah and Sajni Ganger. All in all it was a night of movies, masti and magic!

The entire 3 days Kachchhi Sammelan was successful because of Mayur ganger leader ship, Planning, seven months long hard working hours. Of course his team key players Arvind Kotak, Louis Shah and Shanti Chhadwa. The theme of the entire event was Rangeelo Kutch. To justified theme concept Mayur ganger himself went to India and ordered all souvenir items of Craft, Music articles about Kutch, Bags were made by people from Bhujodi town where people from all senior artist children’s are given one room free of charge to display the item’s which they have made them self and the art they have learned from their parents. which are all Kutchi art items. All food items which were give away in Souvenir bags were imported from Kutch to give flavor of Kutch. All dresses were ordered from Kutch to keep the colors and originality of India.. Mayur Ganger as a businessman took lots of challenges in making this convention successful with his team. The convention really seemed to be of Kachchhi people. He deserve special compliment. He is a multi tenanted, successful businessman and promoter leader in Indian community.

Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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