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SMAP celebrates Grand Shiv Jayanti

Long Beach, CA: Shivaji Maharaj America Parivaar (SMAP) celebrated Grand Shiv Jayanti festival on Saturday, March 9th at Furjanick & Sandberg Auditorium Long Beach.

The event started with an outdoor Unity March. A Dhol Tasha Pathak (team) comprised of fourteen performers, SMAP members, and organizers led the March. Next to them was a team of twenty six Lezim dancers and young children carrying traditional flags. This was followed by a decorated Palakhi carrying idol of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

It was an incredible show to see women playing large (over 3 feet round) Drums to create high-energy upbeat music. The Lezim Dance was extremely well coordinated and followed the music created from the combination and Dhols, Tashas and Zanzas. Eight year old children were dancing on the same tune waving the traditional Orange flag that the represented peace for all. Sandeep Katre led the Dhol Pathak, Sonali Bhave led the Lezim and Flag dance while all Palkhi arrangements were made by Mangesh Raut, All of them are successful engineers who were leading this activity as a part of their voluntary community service. One of the youth leaders, Shaunak Mandavgade had a cut on his finger while playing Tasha and he was bleeding but he kept on playing! The backbone of Tasha team Siddhesh gave a great performance. Archis, a teenager and the youngest member of the team, did a great job in playing the specialized Tasha music. Pramod, Krutika and Aditee performed great on cymbals. Swapnil Joshi sang Shivagarjana in a mesmerizing way. All Dhol players Shraddha, Dipali, Amit, Dipali,, Aditee Janaki and Sunanda had learned special music for this Shiv Jayanti event. This was the first-ever outdoor Dhol-Tasha-Zanzas-Lezim-Flag Unity March in Los Angeles. “… and this is just the beginning, we are planning to conduct many events in future” said Mr. Katre.

After dinner break, a formal program started in the auditorium. Sujatha Padmanabhan, ESPN presenter, well known Singer and IT Professional was the emcee of the evening. Avadhesh Agarwal, a renowned philanthropist, Actress Rasika Sunil, President of Cerritos College Mr. Jose Fierro, Nitesh Patel, Councilmember, City of La Palma, along with the event organizing committee lit the lamp to start the event. The Idol of Shivaji Maharaj was also taken out from the Palakhi and established on the stage while Hemant Kale sang “Shivgarjana”. The organizing committee included — Ashutosh Khisti, Vijay Patil, Vilas Jadhav, Ashok Madan, Dr. Sinduri, Vasundhara Pawar, Bharat Saoji, Shailesh Shetye, Aparna Hande, Pritee Patil, Anshuman Sinha, Manoj Patil, Rushabh Rupani, PK Nayak and Charu Shivakumar. Additionally the leaders of individual activities – Dhol, Lezim, and Drama, Sandeep Katre, Sonali Bhave, Pradnya Kuwadekar and Keynote speaker Hemant Kale were also invited on stage for the lamp lighting ceremony.

The lamp lighting ceremony was followed by National Anthems, first American National Anthem and them Indian. Sampurna Dube, a youth leader from Bengali Association mesmerized the audience with her melodious voice. Sujatha then called Vijay Patil, the Founder of SMAP on stage to describe objectives of the organization. He entered the stage by chanting “Jai Bhavani Jai Shivaji” slogans with the 1000+ attendees. Mr. Patil welcomed the audience and thanks them for their support. “Today, you will see an incredible talent show by 146 artists and performers” said Vijay Patil “but before that you will need to understand why are we doing this?” He then provided the overview of the organization. He highlighted many qualities of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – leadership, management, strategy, visionary, and more notably, his founding of Hindavi Swarajya (a State created by the People for the People) back in 1th century. Mr. Patil claimed that Shivaji Maharaj developed a merit-based society where there were equal rights to all citizen regardless of their sex (Male/Female), Religion, Race or Caste. He said Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj united people of India to stand for their rights and led them in adverse conditions. Shivaji Maharaj created a merit-based society where there was Equality, Liberty and Justice for all. “With Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as a role model, SMAP promotes the values that he represented,” Patil said. The organization is primarily engaged in spreading the ‘Unity and Leadership’ lessons learned from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that can be applied in today’s world. “We’d like to identify and create the kind of leaders in the U.S. who will support the cause of unity,” Patil continued. He concluded by describing four key objectives of the organization: build a network of leaders, support initiatives that unite people, help people who are less fortunate to bring equality, and build a Leadership Center.

Vilas Jadhav then took on stage and welcomed Guests of Honors for the evening. He described Shri Avadhesh Agrawal ji a Jewel of the community and also highlighted additional Guests other (than the ones mentioned in Lamp Lightening Ceremony). The list included Rushabh Rupani, Ashok Patnaik, Ramesh Ramnani, Kanaksinh Zala, Yogi Patel, Manmohan Chopra, Chairman, Dr. Vinod Ambashta, Dr. Manohar Shinde, and Arun Bhumitra. Moreover, he welcomed Rishi Dhakal, Prem Guragain, Bhakta Thapa, Ram Babu Pande, Mukund Dhungana, and Shri Purushottam Dhakal from Nepal community.

Emcee then called Ms. Vasundhara Pawar and Ashok Madan on stage. Avadhesh Agrawal and Ashok Mandan were recognized as Gold Sponsors and Dr. Seema Hanamsagar, Vilas Jadhav, Dr. Shilpa Gaikwad, Sanjay Shah, Bharat Saoji, Jayant Manohar and Pravin Patel as Silver Sponsor. “Without their support, event of this magnitude would not have been possible” said Ms. Vasundhara Pawar. Next Shri Ashok Madan took the stage to recognize the rest of the sponsors and thanked them for their contribution.


As a real beginning of the program, SMAP team started with honoring all National Heroes who protected India for centuries. “After this, we’ll zoom in on the life of one of those Heroes, Shri Shivaji Maharaj whose birth day we have been celebrating today” said Sujatha and called Atharva Sathe, Anika Patil and Eshan Patil on stage who had created a video to honor them. The video, created by Niranjan Sathe, started as “India was a prosperous country, In the 16th century, it accounted for 25% of the world’s GDP and many foreign powers made invasion attempts on India over a period of over 1000 years” and then highlighted summary of the lives of Indian National Heroes in chronological order. Prithviraj Chauhan, Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and Rani Laxmibai. “Today, we offer tribute to these national heroes for standing up for their people and sacrificing their lives to resist the forces of invasion and protecting our culture, our customs and our way of life for centuries” said Atharva Sathe, a youth leader. The emcee when called the rest of the youth committee members – Actress Rasika Sunil, Rushabh Rupani, Chetan Manohar, Shravani Khisti, Vinaini Jaysinghe, Rupa Pawar, Siddharth Raut, Anvita Bhave, Gandhar Katre, Shaunak Mandavgade, Mohini Awhad, Omkar Hanamsagar, Gauri Kuwadekar, and Omkar Katre on stage to offer flowers. They offered flowers to the photos of all national heroes. A very rare show of American teenagers and youth paying homage to the leaders from their Heritage!

This was followed by an hour long drama that depicted the life and values of “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj” in a classical theater form. Pradnya Kuwadekar from LAFTA (Los Angeles Film, Theater and Arts, a non-profit organization) wrote the script, choreographed and directed the play wherein sixty four artists (boys, girls, men, and women) performed. Kedar Deshpande and Sanjay Kulkarni created the Special Effects, Background Music and Digital stage props, images and videos for the play. The dances in the skit were choreographed by Gauri Kuwadekar. A youth leader and a Dance Competition Judge.

“Dear audience, my name is Sahyadri!! Today I am going to share my age old memories with all of you, some sweet…some sad.” said Abhay Hanamsagar who narrated the entire play by acting as Western Mountain Range of India. He started the historic journey from 16th century, one hundred years before the birth of Shivaji Maharaj. He showed the audience the situation that existed back then and how Shivaji Maharaj made his childhood goal to free his people from the atrocities. The celebration of the birth of Shivaji was enacted in the form of traditional Indian dance. This was followed by a series of skits that showed Veermata Jijabai telling child Shivaji stories of other heroes, the respect that Shivaji Maharaj had for all women, how he won key battles and finally established ‘Hindavi Swarajya’ where there was Equality, Liberty and Justice for all and that the only thing that mattered was ‘individual merit’! The play ended with a celebration of Coronation Ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Lezim and flags team arrived from the audience to take part in the celebration. The loud bits of Dhol created high energy atmosphere in the auditorium! A rare, never seen before display of Indian Heritage and culture. The act received a standing ovation from the audience who was packed on two levels of the auditorium. Atul Patil played the role of Raje Shiv Chhatrapati.

This was followed by another high energy dance drama by Savithri Arts Academy. The dace was choreographed by internationally acclaimed Dance Guru, Kalaimanani Dr. Sinduri Jayasinghe. Thirty girls depicted the stories of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj through an ancient dance form of Bharat Nathyam.

“Shivaji Maharaj America Parivaar is grateful to LAFTA and Savithri Arts Academy for presenting the story of Shivaji Maharaj in a way that attendees of all ages (from small children, youth to adults) could understand” said Bharat Saoji, who took on stage to honor influential leaders who provided endorsements to SMAP for taking on this initiative. Padma Vibhushan Babasaheb Purandare, Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Bollywood sensation Mahima Chaudhary, Famous Character Actor Bobby Bedi, Actress Rasika Sunil, Tennis Star of India Ankita Raina, Bollywood Actor / Director Mahesh Manjarekar, Shri Jitubhai Vaghani and Pradipsinh Jadeja from State of Gurajat, India endorsed the event and SMAP by sending out video and letter messages. He thanked Rushabh Rupani, Ashok Patnaik, Sadhana Bendrey, Dr. Sinduri, Ashutosh Khisti and Kanaksinh Zala for obtaining the endorsements. Ashutosh Khisti then took on stage to show summary version of the video messages of these influential personalities.

Keynote speaker Shri Hemant Kale who flew from Dallas to support this event spoke about the importance of these values in 21st century. He claimed that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has remained a source of inspiration for other leaders and millions of people for centuries! …and that he has been a role model for Freedom Fighters in the Indian Independence struggle. He described the need of engaging our younger generation in maintaining respect for our heritage. Mr. Kale emphasized the importance of setting up a noble goal early in the childhood and pursuing them through the life, similar to how Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had demonstrated.

As, the theme of the evening was honoring Indian National Heroes, Dr. Sinduri’s Savithri Arts Academy presented another dance drama on the life of Maharani Laxmibai. Vinani Jayasinghe, SMAP’s youth leader who has over 15 million views on her YouTube video, captivated the audience with a high-energy dance that depicted the Indian Independence movement of 1857. Her performance as Maharani Laximabai was spellbound!

SMAP started planning for Shiv Jayanti celebration event in December with two primary goals (1) Make NRI children understand how rich India was and how Brave our leaders were so that they feel proud about their “Heritage” similar to how some British-Americans feel proud about their “British Heritage” and (2) Unite the Indian American community in a way that was never done before! Aparna Hande then thanked the attendees, volunteers, sponsors, community organizations and participants who made this event possible.

The Celebrity Guest of the evening was actress Rasika Sunil! Over 40 volunteers and organizers made this event a grand success! The list of the key volunteers who were backbone of the event were Prafulla Vyavachare, Priya Deshpande, Mayuri Desai, Mohini Awhad, Sudhir Pisal, Siddesh Raut, Swapnil Joshi, Anil Desai, and Sanjay Shivapuram.


About SMAP

SMAP’s moto is “Let’s Awaken the Spirit of Unity & Leadership’ and the goals are to create the kind of leaders who will –
1. challenge the status quo
2. have the courage to fight injustice and social issues they see around them
3. challenge the discrimination of all kinds and support the cause of unity
4. help people who are less fortunate in life to bring the equality
5. promote Sarva Dharma Samabhava — all religions are equal & we must respect them
6. support protection and growth of “Sanathan Dharma Sanskruti”, a traditional Indian Way of Life as a peace loving society that maintained great culture, respected elders, believed that “Guest is God” and welcomed everyone with open arms.
We are not affiliated with any political or government organization. Our primary objective is to create role models, nurture fearless leadership and promote the spirit of unity. Specifically, we’d like to achieve four tangible objectives – (1) Networking – develop a nationwide network of leaders, in various fields, (2) Unity – organize events to promote unity, (3) Community Service – help unfortunate ones and (4) Build a Leadership Center to inspire/develop future leaders.

Published Date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2019 | 10:04 AM

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