Indo-American News: January 20, 2023

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • Indo American News 2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77077 • 713.789.NEWS (6397) • Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News Published weekly from Houston, TX W E D D I N G S , S P E C I A L E V E N T S , T E N T E D E V E N T S , O U T D O O R C O U R T Y A R D 3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y , T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a c o m Friday, January 20, 2022 | Vol. 42, No. 3 $1 P2 Over one hundred Sewa volunteers helped along the Mile 8 Mega Refueling Station serving the thirsty runners. The runners not only got water and energy drinks, but also much energy and love. ‘Kuttey’: No Bite or Bark Houston Marathon Wows Sewa Volunteers, Runners Malabar Gold & Diamonds P5 Rapid expansion includes 300th store inaugurated in Dallas P11 Bharadwaj film watchable for only Tabu’s performance

Houston Marathon Wows Sewa International Volunteers, Runners

Houston: While the Indian American community was celebrating the winter festivals of Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri, and others, a few from the community geared up to participate and volunteer for the 51st Chevron Houston Marathon held on Sunday, January 15. The marathon attracted over 27,000 participants, and broke the previous records set by runners. Participants from all the 50 states and more than a dozen countries met to run across Houston. More than forty members of Sewa International’s SELF (Sleep, Exercise, Living in the present, Food and diet) program ( self) completed the full/half marathons. Some of them recorded their personal best time, and many of these were first time runners.

Over one hundred Sewa volunteers helped along the Mile 8 Mega Refueling Station serving the thirsty runners.

More than fifty of these volunteers were high school and middle school students, and their energy and enthusiasm were on full display. The runners not only got water and energy drinks but also much energy and love. Bollywood music was played to pump runners that passed by.

Nayonika Pande, a sophomore at Elkins High School and a long time Sewa volunteer, said she woke up early and was out the door at 5 am to drive from Sugar Land to be at the Sewa Mile 8 Refueling Station to support the runners. “It was a beautiful morning with the temperature in the 60s; and perfect weather for running. I enjoyed helping, encouraging, and cheering the participants. I enjoyed this volunteering opportunity and saw a marathon for the first time in my life; the support and happiness we all had for each other was amazing,” she said.

Shoumili Chowdhury, a freshman from Clements High School, who also volunteered said, “Even though I was on the sidelines, I was still able to experience the marathon as if I was truly running. I may not have been as sweaty of course but talking with others and exchanging a few words was enough for me to enjoy the marathon. I will never forget the type of people I saw running, from a person wearing a pickle costume to a woman with one arm. I very much enjoyed encouraging and cheering

for these people.”

Like all the other volunteers, two high school students, Divya and Tara, were ready before the pickup time of 4.30 AM. They both were full of energy and stayed enthusiastic until we finished the event at 10:30 AM.

Shanti Thangavel and Pranav Patankar, our SELF leads completed the full marathon and recorded their personal best time. Mahesh Bhat, Sewa International’s SELF program lead and half marathon participant said, “This was an opportunity for us to showcase our commitment to being healthy, offering support to those who want to commit to a more balanced lifestyle, and what we can do and achieve from being actively involved and taking care of our health”.

Bharathraj Hassan and Santosh Jha, Sewa International’s volunteer captain for the event, said, “It was a joy to train and work with so many of our young and older volunteers. Many have already signed up for the 2024 Houston Marathon and we will surely have more runners and more volunteers from Sewa participating next year”.

About Sewa International

Sewa International, a leading Hindu faith-based Indian American nonprofit organization with 43 Chapters in twenty-five US States, has extensive experience in disaster rescue, relief, and rehabilita-

tion operations having responded to 25 disasters in the US and abroad. Since early 2020, Sewa International has been in the forefront in responding to the

COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2017, after Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area, Sewa volunteers helped in the rescue of nearly 700 people and have served

thousands of affected families since then through their case management services. Sewa raised over $3 million for Hurricane Harvey recovery.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 2
Sewa runners at a group photo before start of the marathon. Volunteers take a selfie on the marathon course.

Over 12 Million Pay Tribute During Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centenary Celebrations

AHmedAbAd: On January 15, 2023, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj was given a grand devotional tribute in the closing ceremony of the Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centenary Celebrations in the divine presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.

In the month-long festival, over 12.1 million people visited the exhibitions and attractions at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar and were inspired to live better lives. The Nagar hosted a variety of exhibitions, attractions, seminars, films, and shows, each imparting a unique lesson from the inspiring life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Millions watched the evening assemblies held every day for the past month live, whether at the Nagar or over webcast and learned about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and work from speeches given by senior swamis and dignitaries from around the world. Thousands gained inspiration from Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life through professional and academic conferences held at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar.

A blood donation drive was also organized over the month-long festival, during which over 5.6 million cc of blood was donated. Hundreds of thousands of people were impressed and humbled by the ornate main gate, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 30-foot sculpted image, the replica of Swaminarayan Akshardham, the enchanting glow garden, the light and sound show, the Women’s Empowerment Pavilion and other exhibitions. After visiting the exhibitions, many were inspired to give up addictions and strive for family harmony. After watching the shows at the Bal Nagari, 250,000 children resolved to respect their parents, study sincerely, and become ideal citizens of the world. All who visited were in awe of the 45 departments and 80,000 volunteers inspired by Mahant Swami Maharaj who made Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar possible.

Grand Finale Program

The Grand Finale Ceremony of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centenary Celebrations, titled, ‘We Will Not Forget You’ commenced at 5.00

pm IST. As hundreds of thousands of devotees from around the world assembled, BAPS bands played to welcome them. The assembly began with the singing of devotional hymns followed by the grand entrance of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on a decorated chariot. Youths danced on stage to welcome Mahant Swami Maharaj.

The first part of the assembly explained how people will not be able to forget Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Selected devotees shared their personal experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj and how they will never be able to forget him for what he has done for them and their families. Each reiterated the point that Pramukh Swami Maharaj is always with them.

Senior BAPS swami Viveksagardas Swami then spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and the physical and mental sacrifices he made for everyone in society. Pramukh Swami Maharaj gave everyone knowledge, peace and stability. His travels were for the joy and betterment of others.

Thereafter, testimonials of visitors to Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar were shown who spoke about their unforgettable memories of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

The next part of the assembly focused on how society will not be able to forget Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his work. Abu Dhabi Mandir project head Brahmaviharidas Swami spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s construction of temples and their global footprint. After a video about the significance of BAPS temples, senior BAPS swami and mahant of Gandhinagar Akshardham Anandswarupdas Swami explained how Pramukh Swami Maharaj changed society’s landscape through festivals. He motivated thousands of selfless volunteers, encouraged skill development, and inspired positive change, transforming society through celebrations. A video introduced the festivals Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired and especially the impact of Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar on society.

The final part of the grand finale program focused on how even the

future will not be able to forget Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His spirituality was beyond the boundaries of time. Each senior swami of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha then spoke about a quality of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Ghanshyamcharandas Swami began with a prayer, after which Tyagvallabhdas Swami spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and his gurus. Bhaktipriyadas Swami described Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s saintliness, while Swayamprakashdas Swami (Doctor Swami) illustrated how Pramukh Swami Maharaj saw everyone equally. Ishwarcharandas Swami then spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s endearing humility.

Children then gathered on stage to discuss how, despite never meeting Pramukh Swami Maharaj, they found Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Mahant Swami Maharaj. After a powerful video introducing Mahant Swami Maharaj through testimonials, Mahant Swami Maharaj blessed the gathered assembly. He said,” We saw in today’s assembly that Pramukh Swami Maharaj had cared for everyone. Thus, everyone felt that he is mine. That is why none can ever forget him, not today and not thousands of years hence.

“Pramukh Swami Maharaj had no sense of ego. Just as Pramukh Swami Maharaj never forgot his gurus, similarly we should always remember Pramukh Swami Maharaj. We were in Bamangam. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was traversing rugged terrain and I felt why is he taking so much strain on his body. Immediately, Pramukh Swami Maharaj turned to me and said, ‘Our Gurus have done this, so we should, too.’

“Pramukh Swami Maharaj had God in every pore. He was Aksharbrahma. He has not and will not ever leave from this Earth. He is with us today and will forever remain with us. “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary was celebrated in a grand and divine way. By Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s grace, the festival has been completed without a hitch. By celebrating this festival, we offered our devotion to our guru. We should never forget this. This festival was

not celebrated to show anyone or increase our glory.

“Whoever visited this festival, supported it or even appreciated it from afar, may God bless them. And the service and sacrifice of the volunteers and swamis cannot be forgotten. They have endured so many hardships. Without the volunteers, this would not have been possible.”

Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebrations were officially concluded with a mass maha-arti, a colorful dance by youths and fireworks.

The month-long celebration was His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s vision to provide inspiration from the life, efforts, teachings, actions, and contributions of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

For more information visit www.

Inspiring videos and photographs related to Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centenary Celebrations are available at @PSM100yrs on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Festival Statistics

Over 12.1 million visitors • 5.6 million cc blood donated • 250,000 children resolve to • respect their parents, study sincerely and become ideal citizens 80,000 volunteers • Many were inspired to transform their lives after visiting Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar over the last month.

Anandbhai Patni

Anandbhai Patni works as a reporter for a news channel. On December 21, he visited the Bal Nagari at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar with his family. In the Bal Nagari, his son resolved to bow to his parents every day. He received the children’s book “Let’s Become Ideal.”

From the very next day, his son started following his resolutions to be an ideal child.

As he was reading the book, he came across a page about addictions. He showed it to his father and inspired his father to give up his addiction. Not only that, but the next day, Anandbhai’s child took the book to school and showed it to his fellow students and teachers

and talked about his new resolutions and the shows at the Bal Nagari. On December 22, Anandbhai returned to the Bal Nagari in the evening and took live video coverage of the festival.

Maheshbhai Gaveriya (25 years old)

Maheshbhai lives in Dhandhuka and has a wood-cutting business. He was addicted to chewing tobacco (gutka). He was inspired by a devotee, Saumilbhai Chauhan, to serve at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar, even though it was difficult for him to take leave from his business. At the Nagar, he volunteered for a week in the decoration department. Overwhelmed by the Nagar, and after serving alongside devotees and swamis, Maheshbhai gave up his addiction and vowed to live an addiction-free life.

Ghar Sabha Rajdan Gadhvi

“Despite being the guru of such a large organization, Pramukh Swami Maharaj looked after the needs and paid attention to the concerns, worries and anxieties of every person. After watching the “Broken Hearts, Broken Homes” show, I believe that as the head of the house, if I learn to understand my family members, then our family life will be transformed. We must regularly do ghar sabhas [home assemblies] and meet together as a family. I have taken this resolution today.”

Letting Go of Anger

Laxmanbhai Parmar, Sarkhej

“Every performance and exhibition here at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar is outstanding. I don’t have an addition, but the children spoke to me about letting go of my anger. Usually, elders teach the young. But here, the children teach everyone. After coming to the Nagar, I have resolved never to lose my temper with anyone again.”

Eating Together Sandhyaben Sunilbhai Sahadi, Surat

“Seeing so many people I know going to Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar, I also decided to visit. I enjoyed the shows and exhibitions and learned about the importance of family unity. I have resolved to make sure my family eats together every day.”

news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20,
January 20, 2023 3 INDIA
The festival of inspiration, transformation, service, and sacrifice, officially concluded with a mass maha-arti, a colorful dance by youths, and fireworks. The Grand Finale Ceremony of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centenary Celebrations, titled, ‘We Will Not Forget You’ commenced with the grand entry of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on a decorated chariot.

Houston: The 52nd Chevron Houston Marathon and 22nd Aramco Houston Half Marathon held on Jan 15, again lived up to their reputation for being flat and fast, a qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Held “in-person” after 2 years of virtual marathons, it was a sellout with about 27,000 registered runners. It was warmer than usual but a beautiful day; at start at 7 AM the temperature was 54 degrees rising to about 67 by 11 AM. The Indo Americans had a significant presence this yearrunning, walking and volunteering. There were many Indo American youngsters at the several water stations along the routes, handing out Gatorade and water to runners, and cheering them along!

The Marathon is the largest sport-

ing event in Houston and accommodates runners with a broad range of abilities.

The Marathon starts and ends at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown. The full marathon course is 26.2 and the half marathon 13.1 miles. This year, the men’s winner of the Full Marathon was Dominic Ondoro of Kenya, with a time of 02:10:36. Hitomi Niiya of Japan, took top honors for the women, with a time of 02:19:24.

In the Half Marathon, Leul Gebreselase Aleme of Ethiopia, claimed the title in the men’s division with a time of 01:00:34. The women’s division winner was Hiwot Gebremaryam of Ethiopia, with a time of 01:06:28. Emily Sisson shattered her own American record in the half

marathon by finishing in 1:06:52 and placed second behind Hiwot.

The Houston Marathon is also a charitable event; the runners and the organization raised money for many area charities.

The route has been essentially the same since 2017. The flow of some 27,000 runners through a common start gate can be challenging. It can take up to an hour for the last person waiting to cross the start line! The organizers had assigned the runners into five corrals based on running ability.

The cheering squads at the hoopla stations along the route were entertaining as usual. The finish line at the Convention Center is always handled extremely well with spectators cheering you on as you finish.

Security precautions were very visible. The organizers deserve much praise for the management of such a large race.

At start when all runners are assembled at the GRB convention center, you could see several individual and group runners from the Indo-American community. You could hear Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, and certainly many other Indian languages being spoken. The

Indo American community participation seems to increase each year!

The Houston Marathon has been a sell-out each year for many years. The next Houston Marathon is on Jan 14, 2024. There is also a 5K race the previous day. The registration is already open! The details are at the site

Organizations like HoustonFit, Fort Bend Fit and KatyFit can help with getting trained.

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Indo American group at start at GRB at the 2023 Houston Half Marathon. Left to Right – Sesh Bala, Shirish Boradia, Kelly Rubio, Pankaj Desai, Dharti Mehta, Antaraa Sarkar and Chintan Mehta. Indo American group at start in Corral E at the 2023 Houston Half Marathon. Left to Right – Kanchan Kabad, Meera Narayana, Sesh Bala and Neeta Balsaver.

Malabar Gold & Diamonds Continues Rapid Expansion with 300th Store


Plans to further speed up the • expansion process in becoming the No: 1 jewellery retailer globally

Immediate expansion plans • into the UK, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa.

Dallas store is the 300th • global showroom of Malabar Gold & Diamonds

The grand inauguration of the 300th global showroom of Malabar Gold & Diamonds, the 6th largest jewellery retailer globally with a strong retail network of 300 showrooms across 10 countries, was held in Dallas, USA.

Ms. Susan Fletcher, Collin County Commissioner and Mr. Jeff Cheney, Mayor of Frisco, Texas jointly inaugurated the showroom in the presence of Mr. Shamlal Ahamed, Managing Director – International Operations. Mr. Joseph Eapen, President – USA, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, Mr. Jasar R, Branch Head, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, other team members, well-wishers and dignitaries were also present for the event in Dallas.

This is the 3rd showroom of Malabar Gold & Diamonds in the USA, with the other 2 located in Oak Tree Road, New Jersey and West Devon Avenue, Chicago. The Dallas showroom is located at 5811 Preston Road, Frisco.

“It is a moment of great pride for us as we touch the 300th mark with this new showroom in Dallas, USA. We started off with a small showroom in Calicut, Kerala, India and today in

less than 30 years, we have a strong retail presence of 300 showrooms across 10 countries; all thanks to our customers, shareholders, employees and other stakeholders. We will continue to strengthen our retail presence in the regions where we have established a robust presence, as well as enter new markets with our differentiated products, services and assurances. The acceptance and patronage received by the brand gives us the confidence to further speed up the expansion process in becoming the No: 1 jewellery retailer globally,” said Mr. MP Ahammed, Chairman, Malabar Group

Malabar Gold & Diamonds currently operates in 10 countries and has immediate expansion plans into the UK, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Turkey, and South

Africa. The future expansions are expected to create approximately 6,000 job opportunities in the retail, manufacturing, technical and management areas related to jewellery trade.

‘Malabar Gold & Diamonds has played a vital role in making Indian jewellery more acceptable and trustworthy at the global level in recent years. We are now crafting unique experiences targeting the individual and specific preferences of our customers. As the design discovery and initial decision-making of most customers are happening online these days, we are focusing greatly on strengthening our omnichannel retail strategy, for which we are making use of the services of global technology giants like Microsoft, IBM, Accenture, E&Y, Deloitte etc..’, said

Mr. Abdul Salam KP, Vice Chairman, Malabar Group.

Malabar Gold & Diamonds is renowned globally for offering an unparalleled jewellery buying experience with convenience, and customer-friendly policies along with the ‘Malabar Promise’ of incomparable quality and service assurance. Malabar Promise includes assured lifetime maintenance from any of the showrooms across 10 countries, guaranteed buyback, IGI and GIA-certified diamonds ensuring 28-point quality check of global standards, zero deduction gold exchange, complete transparency, 916 hallmarked pure gold, responsible sourcing, fair price policy and fair labour practices.

“We are very excited about our future growth plan and will imme-

diately be expanding into new markets, including the UK, Bangladesh, Australia and Canada, followed by Egypt, Turkey & South Africa. Apart from this, we will further strengthen our retail footprint within the existing markets as well. We constantly make efforts to evolve in line with the diverse preferences of our multicultural and multinational customers, as part of which we will focus further on product variety and a superior shopping experience, in addition to opening more stand-alone stores for local customers of the respective regions”, said Mr. Shamlal Ahamed, Managing Director – International Operations, Malabar Gold & Diamonds.

The new showroom in Dallas has a stunning display of more than 30,000 jewellery designs from 20 countries across gold, diamonds, precious gems and platinum, catering to the design preferences of those residing in and around Dallas.

‘We have an ambitious retail expansion plan in India as well, especially in the North and Central Indian states and are gearing up in a big way to enter new territories as well by setting higher standards in the jewellery trade. We understand the sensitivity of the industry and ensure compliance through responsible sourcing, ethical business practices, and transparent and professional fund management. Our association with trade bodies, financial houses, and government regulators help to ensure that our operations are infallible globally’, said Mr. O Asher, Managing Director – India Operations, Malabar Gold & Diamonds.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 5 IN FASHIONMEMORIUM
Ms. Susan Fletcher, Collin County Commissioner and Mr. Jeff Cheney, Mayor of Frisco, Texas, jointly inaugurating the 300th global showroom of Malabar Gold & Diamonds in Dallas, USA, in the presence of Mr. Shamlal Ahamed, Managing Director – International Operations, Mr. Joseph Eapen, President – USA, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, Mr. Jasar R, Branch Head, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, other team members, well-wishers and dignitaries.

Rupla Oberoi: Illuminated Lives of Many Lucky Enough to Know Her

Houston: Rupla Oberoi was born in Lahore India, pre Pakistan. She was one of four sisters that were all raised to be strong and dynamic in an era where women did not have much of a voice. She met her future husband at a young age, marrying him at the age of 20 and eloped to the UK where they began their married life. She positioned herself as an elementary schoolteacher and became a trailblazer when she was eventually appointed a she was one of the first women of color to be granted such a title.

She became a mother to two children, a son, Ricki, and a daughter, Gita. In 1982, the family moved to the US. Although the first restaurant they opened here, called Blazing Saddles, was more of an American diner, it paved the way for their legacy of Indian restaurant ownership they became so widely known for. Rupla, along with her husband Mahesh, constituted the proverbial dynamic duo team. Their devotion to one another was legendary, as was their style of working side by side in the businesses.

Their first Indian restaurant was Natraj, located in what is now Highland Village. Their flagship restaurant, Shiva Indian Restaurant, opened next and graced Times Blvd in the popular Rice Village area. Here, they catered to a large majority of medical professionals and gained traction as both an in house dining as well as a catering restaurant concept. Rupla and Mahesh went on to establish multiple Indian restaurants in Houston and surrounding areas..Shivani, Monsoon, Clay Oven in Bryan and Mantra in Katy.

Rupla was instrumental in developing client relationships and was known for her warmth and generosity. Her fondness for people and her desire to do every job to the client’s utmost satisfaction earned her a place in everyone’s heart. Her empathetic nature allowed her to weep with people as if their misfortune was her own and also to laugh and rejoice with them as if their good fortune was hers.

She loved to dress colorfully, with opulent jewelry, and was ready to dance to any kind of

music with admirable confidence.. she was truly the life of the party. She was an avid devotee of Mata and relished hosting and attending Chowkis ( 4 hr long prayer sessions), soulfully singing her favorite bhajans. Those who knew her always remarked upon her kindness, which , literally, knew no bounds..she would give money, toys, food, and advice, all with love and no expectations in return. She gave liberally to many charities over the years, including St. Jude’s Hospital, and received multiple commemorations from them. Though she was a supreme “people person”, her family will always remember her for the infinite love she showered upon her children and grandchildren.

No grandchild had a better ally or partner in crime than Rupla Oberoi. She was a shining star that illuminated the lives of so many lucky enough to have known her…and though her absence leaves trails of tears in its wake, her legacy of love, devotion, beauty, strength, and confidence will endure in our hearts forever.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 6 OBITUARY 832-766-6662 SONY KOHLI YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT


Brij Gopal Pallod: Family Guardian Fulfilled Every Role He Played with Grace

Houston: On December 25 2022, our family lost our historian, our guardian, our mentor, our cheerleader… our Birju Seth. He left around 4.30 in the morning while his son was giving massage to his legs and his bahurani watching him. We hold such bittersweet emotions at his passing, knowing that he left this world feeling fulfilled and without great pain, but feeling immense loss for all the richness he brought to our lives.

Dadaji, formally known as Brijgopal Pallod, was born in Zaheerabad in 1938. Born into a large joint family, Dadaji managed to make an impression not only on every member of the Pallod Family, but on every single person he met. He greeted everyone from bouncing babies to dignitaries with the same respect-filled “Jai Shri Krishna”, and his sharp wit, big smile, and general warmth are the hallmarks of his interactions with all of us.

Though Dadaji didn’t get formal education past 10th grade, he was on a constant quest to learn about the world, and read newspapers in 3 languages every day. That he could say puns that left us all with laughs that made our bellies hurt in so many different languages was a testament to his wit. As he would say himself, he was 84 years YOUNG.

While Dadaji was born before World War II into our very traditional family, his ability to connect with everyone, young and old, gave him a progressive worldview that allowed him to champion all of his grandkids. Radhika remembers him making sure to correct a Panditji who discriminated in his blessings by gender, and we all know how proud he was of all of us for pursuing an education that he couldn’t. We’ll always remem-

ber the trip he made to celebrate Kavita’s Doctoral graduation fondly, and how he regaled everyone he met with “Bharat ka rehne wala hoon, Bharat ki baath sunatha hoon”. That his last trips abroad were to celebrate Kavita and Radhika’s achievements says a lot about the love and pride Dadaji had in all his grandkids, and how loved his granddaughters in particular felt.

We saw Dadaji fill every role he played with such grace. He was a steadfast and loyal husband, especially when Bai was sick. He was a devoted brother, and serving as Raju Dadaji’s eyes when he could. He was a firm father and also one who told everyone that his kids were the pearls and diamonds of his life. We knew him best as our dadaji, and our hearts ache at the thought of not having his warm hands massage ours and assure us of our fortunes, his classic chadi step to celebrate all of our mile-

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stones, and his melodious voice to teach us about who we are and where we come from.

In his last “innings” of life, Dadaji seemed to smile even more as he infected us with his jovial nature. One of his favorite movies was “102 not out”, and he embodied the idea of enjoying life to the fullest.

Exactly a year before his passing, Dadaji had his swarna sidhi aarohan ceremony, where he symbolically climbed a golden ladder to heaven after seeing his great grandchild, Veer. While we miss him immensely, there’s a comfort in knowing that Dadaji himself would say that he experienced everything he wanted to, and left the word reassuring his beloved son Kamal (who was massaging his feet at the time) that he was alright, his last words being “aaram se, main theek hoon.” -- Grand daughters Kavita , Namita and Radhika

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 7
Brij Gopal Pallod with his great grandson Veer. Brij Gopal Pallod at the graduation of his grand daughter Kavita.

1st for Texas Legislature: Reps. Lalani & Bhojani

Austin: History was made in the Lone Star state last week, Tuesday, the 10th of January, when the 88th Legislature of the Texas House of Representatives held their oath ceremonies for members recently elected for their two-year terms. The Texas House is composed of 150 members and the state legislature meets in regular session for about five months every other year.

The richness of representation and electoral diversity was showcased in the official swearing in ceremonies of Rep. Salman Bhojani and Rep. (Dr.) Suleiman Lalani, both of whom are Democrats and the firsts in many categories. They are the first South Asian Americans and the first MuslimAmericans and Pakistani-Americans in the Texas House. Rep. Bhojani is also the first person

of color to represent House District 92 (Dallas-Fort Worth area).

With his wife Nima and children by his side, Bhojani was sworn in on the first English copy of the Qur’an ever printed in the Americas (printed in 1806 in Springfield,

Massachusetts). Dr. Lalani of Sugar Land is the first South Asian elected from the Houston area (House District 76) to the Texas House.

He was sworn in on a 382year-old Qur’an owned by Sada Cumber, a prominent entrepreneur and foreign policy expert in the South Asian American community. Accompanied by his wife Zakia, his children, and other family members and friends, over 500 people from Dr. Lalani’s district attended in order to celebrate his swearing in by singing and dancing outside of the Capitol. It was a great moment for AAPI, South Asian and immigrant Texans across the state who swelled with pride at the momentous achievements of these two elected officials – now the real work begins!

MLK Special Award for Vavilala

Houston (PTI): Indian-American Krishna Vavilala has been honoured with the MLK Grande Parade Special Award for the community leader’s contributions towards connecting the Indian diaspora with the mainstream America as the US celebrated the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Vavilala, 86, a longtime Houstonian and the founder and chairman of the Foundation of India Studies (FIS), has in the past led several MLK Grande Parades, dressed as Mahatma Gandhi with the sole purpose of bringing the Indian community closer to the Black community, based on the principles of non-violence, which both Gandhi and MLK Jr. had followed. The award -- a trophy and a

plaque -- was presented by Charles Stamps, the chairman and CEO of MLK Jr. Parade Foundation, at its glitzier gala night on Sunday amidst thunderous applause.

Charles spoke highly of Vavilala and appreciated his dedication to spreading the message of both Mahatma Gandhi and MLK Jr, who were continents apart, yet shared the same vision and followed the same path.

A strong believer in promoting peace and racial harmony, Vavilala while accepting the award said, “Having lived in this country for over five decades, I have observed that there is very little social interaction between the Blacks and the Indian communities in our daily lives. So, I wanted to do something about it,” he said.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 8 COMMUNITY COMMUNITY
Texas Rep. Dr. Suleman Lalani with this family in the Texas State Capitol. Salman Bhojani’s wife, Nima, holds the Quran as he is sworn into the Texas Legislature.
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 9

India Honors NRI Supporter of Farmer Agitation

indore: US-based NRI Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, who was sent back from the Delhi airport on the night of October 23-24, 2021, allegedly for his involvement in the farmers’ agitation at the national capital’s borders, said Tuesday he was “very honoured and excited” to be among the 21 recipients this year of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award — the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians.

Based in Milwaukee, 72-yearold Dhaliwal was sent back from the Indira Gandhi International airport after he “arranged a langar” for farmers protesting against the three new agriculture laws that were later withdrawn. Speaking to The Indian Express over phone Tuesday, Dhaliwal said, “I was not disappointed when I was sent back. I bow in front of the Almighty and believe that whatever is done by Him is always for the good.”

Dhaliwal said he had decided to organise the langar for farmers after “watching what all they were going through”. He said, “I was not involved in the farm laws.”

The NRI businessman also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, “He did a lot for the country. He did great things for Sikhs and I wish he continues doing so.”

Dhaliwal’s selection for the award, it is learnt, was part of a rapprochement exercise by the Government for the Sikh community after the farm protests ended. An influential member of the Indian American community, Dhaliwal had hosted a few events in

the Chicago area, and an outreach exercise was carried out by Indian functionaries as well. The award is the culmination of that outreach, sources said.

Sources said Dhaliwal’s name was finalised by the jury and awards committee, which has the Vice President as its chair and the External Affairs Minister as the vice-chair. The panel unanimously selected the final list, they said.

Dhaliwal has been an influential NRI businessman for several decades, with businessescutting across petrol stations, trucks and real estate in the US.

Guyana’s President Mohamed Irfaan Ali and DSB Group CEO Piyush Gupta are among the other recipients of the awards, which will be handed over during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention to be held in Indore between January 8 and 10.

Speaking to The Indian Ex-

press, Dhaliwal’s younger brother Surjit Singh Rakhra, who was a minister in Punjab’s previous SAD government, described the award as “a blessing from Guru Maharaj”. According to Rakhra, the Prime Minister had met Dhaliwal in Delhi last April. “PM Modi had invited around 100 eminent personalities, including him (Dhaliwal). He attended the event,” he said.

Asked about Dhaliwal’s support for the farm agitation, Rakhra said, “We had only arranged for a langar for the protesting farmers but the Government thought we could help mediate and end the stalemate. My brother was given three options, either to stop the langar, or help with a compromise with the farmers or return to the United States.”

Their family hails from Rakhra village near Patiala. Rakhra said Dhaliwal would arrive in India on January 7 for the convention in Indore.

Punjab’s former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had at that time sought the intervention of the Prime Minister. Requesting Modi to personally invite Dhaliwal as a “goodwill gesture”.

India Arrests Human Traffickers

AHmedAbAd: Police in India have arrested two men in connection with the deaths of four people near the US-Canada border in January 2022.

The bodies, including that of a three-year-old child, were found lying together frozen in a field in Canada's Manitoba, 12m away from the US border.

Authorities in Gujarat state, where the family was from, said the arrested men were "illegal immigration" agents.

Police are also trying to arrest two agents based in the US and Canada.

The family - Jagdish Patel, 39, Vaishaliben, 37, their daughter, Vihangi, 11 and son, Dharmik, 3were from Gujarat's Dingucha village, where many locals aspired to move abroad. The news of their tragic deaths - they walked hours in -35C temperatures - made headlines around the world.

The Patels were among a group of 11 people from Gujarat who were trying to enter the US. The other

seven people in the group were detained by US authorities after they crossed the border.

"The city crime branch has registered an offence in a case wherein the accused (agents) had forced 11 people to walk in the snow in a bid to get them illegally cross the USCanada border, causing the death of four members of a family," Chaitanya Mandlik, a senior police official in Gujarat's Ahmedabad, told reporters on Monday.

The Canadian Press, a news agency, reported that the arrested men have been accused of "acting as immigration agents, supplying the family members paperwork and helping them get to the US".

The charges against them include human trafficking, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

"The victims were taken to Toronto in Canada and later to Vancouver. The agents then dumped them at Winnipeg in Manitoba province

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File photo of Darshan Singh Dhaliwal at Singhu.
Human traffickers were responsible freezing death of a family.


Lacks both Bark and Bite; Watch for Tabu

In 2009 came ‘Kaminey’, in which Vishal Bhardwaj offered us a compendium of crooks in a plot so entertaining that it practically begged an encore. Sadly, 2023’s Bollywood feature in theatres, appropriately called ‘Kuttey’, and directed by Vishal’s son, Aasmaan, is not that film.

By all rights, it should have been. By virtue of who he is, Bhardwaj Jr has had access to not just his father who has been credited with additional screenplay and dialogue, and the peerless Gulzar, but also a jaw-dropping ensemble–Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu, Konkona

Sen Sharma, Kumud Mishra leading Arjun Kapoor, Radhika Madan, Shardul Bhardwaj– in a story about corrupt cops and gormless goons chasing packets of powder and stashes of cash. Here’s a quick meet-and-greet with our ‘kuttey’.

Konkona is a Naxalite leading a rag-tag army, raising slogans about ‘azaadi’. Ooh, brave. Veteran cop Kumud Mishra and his younger colleague Arjun Kapoor are among those who uphold the law and break it at the same time. Naseer is a hood in a wheelchair. And Radhika and Shardul are young and hopeful. They all want something they don’t have – freedom, illicit money, a place to stretch yourself

fully. Where will greed, and lots of guns, lead them to?

When it’s not a madly original mix, it’s always going to be the treatment that lifts it. But as we stand by and wait for this lot to do something, anything that’s going to make ‘Kuttey’ the zinger that it promises to be, we realise that it will be a long, fruitless wait. Almost the entire first half feels like a chaotic-yet-flat set-up where these characters slide in and out. A postinterval portion gives us a glimpse of what the film was aiming for –dark, twisty, fast-paced, with each character trying to outwit the other– but overall it remains choppy, and half-baked. -- Indian Express

new delHi: Film bodies on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments, where he cautioned BJP leaders from making unnecessary remarks against movies and personalities to grab headlines. During the BJP National Executive meeting in New Delhi, PM Modi had said, “No one should make unnecessary comments that would overshadow the hard work we do.”According to a BJP office bearer, who was present at the meeting, the prime minister in his speech had “cautioned” those who make statements to grab headlines. r Ashoke Pandit, president of the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA), shared with that PM Modi’s

speech is a “big boost of confidence” for the Hindi film industry, which has been fighting a perception battle.

“It is a great concern shown by the Prime Minister. If the PM

snubs his own people and tells them to shut up and not talk nonsense against the film industry, which is not their area, for mere publicity, it is a big boost of confidence for the industry,” he said.

Place a number in the empty boxes in such a way that each row across, each column down and each 9-box square contains all of the numbers from one to nine.

Send us the correct answer before January 24, 2023. Email us at Please send us your solved Sudoku for your name to be published.

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 11 ENTERTAINMENT
Kumud Athavale, Ramana Vadrevu,
R. Vuddagiri, Sanchali Basu, Yudhveer Singh Bagga, Taranjit Singh, Kanubhai Patel, Prabhu Narumanchi
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, jAnuAry 20, 2023 • January 20, 2023 12
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