Memorializing Mother India: Indian Americans Reconnect With Their Roots, Revel in Culture, Customs and Cuisine
- On the July 4 weekend Bengalis, Odiyas, Konkanis, Tamilians, and Telugus held their annual events.
July 4 weekend is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. Indian Americans have another addition to the Independence Day festivities. They are busy attending the various conventions held across North America, to reconnect with their roots, culture and tradition. No wonder the long weekend is commonly referred to as the convention time — when entire families from different Indian-American communities are off to the convention venues, usually in big cities to immerse in the culture, cuisine and customs.
These few days help them revitalize and renew connections with their motherland and the diverse cultures and traditions of the different states in India. It is also an attempt to inculcate “Indian values” in their children, and expose the younger generation to Indian culture and tradition.
This year on the July 4 weekend Bengalis, Odiyas, Konkanis, Tamilians, and Telugus held their annual conventions. More are slated to be held throughout the U.S. through July and a few even in August. An important crowd-pulling factor is the presence of celebrities and politicians of different hues.
Bollywood star couple Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh were a major draw at the Konkani Sammelan, held July 2 to 4 in San Jose, California. Padukone, a Konkani, gave an in-depth interview at the convention. She was later joined in by her husband, who made a brief appearance on the stage and impressed the audience with a few lines in Konkani. Videos of their time at the event have gone viral. Singh also shared the stage at Shankar Mahadevan’s concert at the convention a day earlier.
The “Piku” actress took to Instagram to thank the organizers for the “love and warmth.” She continued: “A people without the knowledge of their history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Thank you #KAOCA and to the people of my community for your love, warmth and blessings…I couldn’t be more proud.”
Around the same time, the capital city of Sacramento came alive with Odiya culture at the 53rd convention of The Odisha Society of the Americas (OSA), hosted by the OSA California chapter, July 1-3.
The Bengali community in North America met in Las Vegas for the 42nd North American-Bengali Conference (NABC) 2022 held July 1-3. The three-day event included business seminars, cultural events and special programs for youth. Amit Mitra, Principal Chief Advisor to the West Bengal chief minister and state finance department addressed the opening plenary for NABC on July 1 He “elaborated on various initiatives of the state government in the infrastructure, heavy industries, MSME, Power, Tourism and social sectors,” as reported by the Millennium Post.
Attendees were treated to three recently digitally restored films —“Sonar Kella,” “Hirak Rajar Deshe,” and “Sukumar Ray” — directed by Satyajit Ray and produced by the Bengal government.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the 17th Congress of the American Telugu Association (ATA) was held at the Walter E Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., and St. John’s University in Queens, New York, hosted the Federation of Tamil Sangams in America (FeTNA) annual event.
The ATA convention began with a golf outing organized by the Hyderabad-based group Dream Valley. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, former cricketer Kapil Dev and actress Rakul Preet Singh also hit the course.
Special guests for the three-day event included cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Chris Gayle, as well as several from the Tollywood film industry. Kapil Dev, Gavaskar and Gayle are also attended the youth cricket tournament as guests.
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also attended the opening day festivities.
Former New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who’s running to represent the city’s 10th Congressional District, was honored at the FeTNA convention. Young achievers — Indian American Scripps National Spelling Bee champ Harini Logan, and Indian grand chess master Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa —were also feted at the event. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin addressed the guests virtually.