New Jersey, July 7 (Odisha.in) The Orissa Society of the Americas organized their 40th Annual Convention on 3rd & 4th July, 2009 at Patriots Theatre at the War Memorial & Marriott Hotel, Trenton, New Jersey.
Thousands of people of Orissa origin or Orissa loving, across North America joined this fun filled two day event to celebrate the culture, ethnicity and their existence in America. The event was packed with Seminars, Symposiums, Workshops, Round Table Conferences & Mentorships followed by superb Cultural extravaganza.
Many dignitaries in and around the country were invited including Ms Kalpana Das, first Oriya Mountaineer to Mt. Everest. Governor John Corzine was invited as Chief Guest who had to request Deputy Speaker Mr Upendra Chivukula to represent him due to some last minute scheduling conflict. His message was well delivered by Assemblyman Chivukula. A message from Governor of State of Orissa was also delivered.
The inauguration was followed by a gala presentation boasting more than 40 participants together showcasing their talents on a Broadway like musicals filled with traditional and modern dance forms, a never seen before fusion between east and west, introducing Broadway theatre artist Amy Hedrick (also seen in hit television drama “Prison Break” from FOX).
Twelve beautiful compositions that had flavors of folk, rap, hip-hop, paala, romance, soft ballad, blues, club songs & Sambalpuri that left all humming and tapping their foot.
The convention theme “Saata Daria Pare” or across the seven seas, showed the revealing facts that smears the life in America with realms of nostalgic feeling for the Orissa and its rich ethnic origin.
The songs were nicely choreographed by Sikandar & Nazia Alam depicting the pledge these oriyas have taken to preserve their culture at this far land. It also included various classical & ethnic dance forms of Orissa including Odissi, Sambalpuri, Ghoda (horse) dance, Paika Naacha and many forms of tribal dances. Rannapa dance was immensely spectacular with artists dancing while balancing over stilts like long wooden sticks.
Mahanadi to Mississippi episode showed a tradition still active far from motherland while preserving the adopted western tradition and a convergence of both cultures.
The depiction of epic Oriya story Kaali Jaai made the crowd numb and speechless. Other cultural items included live performances from Baboo Panigrahi (who represented Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi who was hospitalized due to some health conditions), Classical Oriya songs including Champu & Chhanda, Gazahls, Drama competitions & Dance competitions.
There are forty five speakers discussing many topics critical to American Oriyas starting from Entrepreneurship, Women’s challenges, improving life, education, Health in Orissa & Poverty Eradication, Integrating Next Generations, Youth Mentorship & workshops for college & beyond. Various dignitaries were invited to enrich youth and young and to build a mentorship bond for the next step in their life.
“The Seminar aims at translation of ideas into reality, topics of practical usefulness and long term value beyond the seminar, and most importantly, an enjoyable and valuable experience for our Oriya Diaspora in the Americas and our mother land Orissa”, said Dr. Mohapatra, Coordinator for Seminar.
There were over forty unique dishes from different cuisines including Oriya, North Indian, South Indian, Indo-Chinese, Gujarati, and Italian. Some of the highlights were freshness of on-site preparations & live food stations, Hot Jalebis, Ice creams, Chocolate Fountains and not to miss the paan.
All dignitaries were impressed by the hospitality by the organizers and felt the Marriott Hotel & the War Memorial more looked like a world class Oriya resort. According to Gyana Patnaik of IL, “One of the best conventions I have ever attended. Most spectacular aspects were the organizers strong willingness, hospitality and performing the tasks with humility”
Mrs. Leena Mishra of Washington, DC congratulated the amazing team of volunteers for holding a highly successful OSA Convention said, ”We came back with high optimism that our OSA will keep shining brighter in the hands of our younger talents. Thank you all for this wonderful feeling”
Co-Convener, Mr. Lalatendu Mohanty in his thanking speech mentioned this was a planning for over a year with strong commitments from many individuals to do nothing but the best and the enthusiasm from local performers to show the greatness of their culture.
“I cannot thank these volunteers enough and I won’t even dare to do that. Let these delegates who enjoyed these four day of hospitality and enjoyment personally express their feeling directly to these volunteers for their awesome job”
Convener, Dr Uma Ballava Mishra was humbled by the warm feedback from all attendees and was convinced that this organization is as solid & strong as a rock.
Orissa is a coastal state in eastern India. OSA is a non-profit umbrella organization of Oriyas living in North America. This convention takes place during the July 4th weekend every year.
It serves to bring together people with roots in Orissa to share the pride in Oriya culture and heritage and pass it on to the next generation. The convention was organized by New York & New Jersey Chapter of the Organization.