Indo-American News: March 8, 2024

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BEST HOLI EVER: Masala Radio’s Houston Holi!

Over 13,000 thousand chimed…one of the BEST HOLI’s EVER!! Masala Radio 98.7 FM’s management team agrees… best God-blessed weather…best venue, best crowd, most sponsors, greatest giveaways, most delicious food court, and the most performers…EVER!! Weeks before Holi, every day on radio, Sunil T had been praying to God for overcast clouds so families could really really enjoy the outdoor event and play Holi. Weather turned out to be near perfect – 77 degrees, overcast with a light breeze. Everyone that attended felt God’s divine presence.

Super Tuesday Winners

Mama’s Life Celebration

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024• 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, March 8 2024 | Vol. 43, No. 10 $1
Taral Patel was one of the winners of the Super Tuesday primary. -- P2 Mama, 96, with sons Jayant (left) and Jawahar at Celebration of Life held last Sunday at Indian Summer restaurant. -- P4

BEST HOLI EVER: Masala Radio FM 98.7’s Houston Holi Festival of Colors!

Over 13,000 thousand chimed… one of the BEST HOLI’s EVER!! Masala Radio 98.7 FM’s management team agrees…best God-blessed weather…best venue, best crowd, most sponsors, greatest giveaways, most delicious food court, and the most performers…EVER!! Weeks before Holi, every day on radio, Sunil T had been praying to God for overcast clouds so families could really really enjoy the outdoor event and play Holi. Weather turned out to be near perfect – 77 degrees, overcast with a light breeze. Everyone that attended felt God’s divine presence. You could see it in people’s smiles, kids running around with pichkaris, teenagers dancing, the adults enjoying dance performances and all the amazing street foods by some of Houston’s best restaurants. Esha Nargorwalla, a student at Rice University, said “Ive been coming to Holi since I was a kid. This is my 7th Masala Holi and this was absolutely the finest. This time I saw a more younger crowd than any year before. I brought my nonIndian friends from college, and they loved festival of color … it was like no other.”

Masala Radio 98.7 FM’s Houston Holi Festival of Colors on Saturday March 2 was held at a real Texan ranch – BH Ranch. Revelers swarmed in gleeful pockets all over. Jam-packed crowds in the circular performance zone with 25 foot high sound & video screens, threw color powder and sprayed water on each other and danced while the fragrance of the giant food court of exotic Indian and fusion street foods lingered in the air. People of all ages, ethnicities and color became one as everything else seemed to disappear in bright colors, colorful smoke blasters and a rainbow of confetti.

The massive stage and giant speakers felt like a set of a Bollywood movie song shoot. The show started off with energetic dance teams performing to variety of mostly Bollywood and a few increasingly popular Tollywood songs. Sunl T next directed the Holi Pooja with Maharaj Pradeep Pandya from Siddhi Vinayak and HGH’sThara Narsiman officiating & invoking blessings for all event attendees. Present on stage were our elected officials... Judge KP George, Mayor Ken Mathews, Commissioner Andy Meyers, Constable Nabil Shike, State Rep Dr Suleman Lalani and Council Member Naushad Kermally. Sunil introduced them as our real life Avengers that are fighting crime, improving buildings & infrastructure, passing laws and making life in Fort Bend County the best you can have in the world. Also present fir the Holi Pooja on stage were candidates in the upcoming elections and some of the top business leaders of Houston – CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, and real estate developers – representing over 2 billion dollars of net worth – humbly praying for the Lord’s blessings for all. These Entrepreneurs were recognized for contributing some of their success to this type of community event. Title Sponsors were Ramji Law Group & Elite Mingle. Concert

Sponsor Savant Energy. Platinum Sponsors included: Amir Dodiya Wealth Preservation & Strategies & Ali Sheikhani,. Gold Sponsors Deep Foods, Bob’s Lounge, Pervez Jasani, Harry Shah, Neptune Imports, Dawat Rice, Tara Capital & McDonalds. Other top sponsors included Artex Signs, Texas Jasmine, Tanish & Jindal Group & others.

Then DJ Nish dropped a crazy track and the youthful energetic crowd started to come alive after a long cold winter, kicking off the The Battle of the DJ’s between popular Indian DJs, Zee, Impact, Kalki vs the non-Indian DJ Tazmayne.. Spinning Bollywood EDM and vying for the greatest audience response. .

Sunil T invited a few excited nonIndians to dance onstage with DJ Tazmayne and joked “not only can these guys Bhangra, but they are jumping so high they will fall off the stage!.” Twin Sisterzz broke the the DJ mold with not one, but two female DJs offering a different flare of EDM mixes all the way from Philadelphia. The hints of Punjabi in their voices and their music added the nonstop hype. Colors and hands were flying in the air. “I was caught up in a hypnotic moment of senses. My mind and body started to give into the sights and sounds of the festival and I felt elevated in a spirituality remix.”. Sandhya Thakkar smiled, “This is why we do this. We want to share the colors of our mystical Hindu culture with everyone in Houston. With colors on our bodies, we all look the same, and start to celebrate life without judgement, without barriers.”

When Sunil T introduced ARJUN, music lovers from every corner of the festival stopped and swarmed to the stage for 30 minutes of pure concert pleasure. After a 5 year performance hiatus, Arjun completely rocked the stage with his hits and remixed covers “Ambarsariya”, Kesariya, Khabhi Jo Badal, Lagdi Lahore Diya, and then the most hype finale “Suit, Suit” which he originally sang with Guru Randhawa. The audience was simply not letting him go, and summoned him back with the loudest cheering and even banging on the stage until he added one more ‘last song’ Kolaveri DI, surprising all with some lines in perfect Tamil, hinting at his Sri Lankan roots. Arjun from the UK was indeed the most humble artist in Houston Holi’s 15 year history despite his enormous talent.

While the dance crowd was glued to the stage, kids enjoyed their own space on the other side of the lake, filled with magical Keemat Kids Rides. A Gazillion bubbles – including some bigger than the kdis – marked the entry to the Kids with giant Gladiator and Dinosaur Themed inflatable bounce houses and 2 story slides, Spinning Dixie Ride, Train Ride with views of the entire event, and even a cool McDonalds Soccer Game with coveted French Fry Gift Cards!! The kids were incredulous that everything was free and unlimited. Tucked peacefully in this corner was a special opportunity to feed rescued cows from the Gaushala, a cow

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024 • www.IndoAmerIcAn-news
March 8,

Primary Winners: Lizzie, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sean Teare, Taral Patel, Ali Sheikhani

Houston: Texans of South Asian origin had much to cheer about the results of the Super Tuesday primary elections despite the low turnout. On March 5, only 6% of registered Harris County voters cast a ballott, lowest since 2012.

At the national level, both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump swept primaries across the nation. Due to a poor showing against Trump, Nikki Haley has suspended her campaign.

In the races for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Colin Allred won the Democratic Party primary to enable him to face Senator Ted Cruz in the general election in November.

In Congressional primaries, Lizzie Fletcher beat challenger Pervez Agwan handily in the newly created District 7. Another incumbent, Sheila Jackson Lee turned back Amanda Edwards in District 18..

In Harris County, incumbent District Attorney Kim Ogg could not withstand a strong challenge

from former prosecutor Sean Teare, who received 75% of the votes. Ogg struck out at her critics, saying she “had made powerful enemies for all the right reasons.” In County Sheriff’s race Ed Gonzales won with 67% of the votes. He will face Mike Knox.

Incumbent Judge RK Sandill was running behind challenger Denise Brown for the District 127 Judgship.

In Fort Bend County, Taral Patel avoided a runoff with 51% of the votes to challenge incumbent Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers. in the general election.

Nabil Shike will advance to a runoff in the Democratic primary for County Constable Precinct 3. If he winds the runoff, he will face Republican Party primary winner Ali Sheikhani.. As such, there is much to cheer about for South Asian candidates, especially those running in Fort Bend County.

Best Masala Holi Ever!

sanctuary. The beautifully decorated cows were loving the attention of colorful guests!. Revelers noticed a new level of décor, with colorful Truck and Ferris Wheel Photo Booths, and over 20 giant trees filled with a different Indian décor themes like chiffons, marigolds, lotuses, abla pennants and abla umbrellas thanks to Dream Décor.

Hungry crowds swarmed to the all vegetarian Indian Street Foods area featuring Honest, Mirch Masala, Nirmanz, Bawarchi, Gayatri Bhavan, and newbie Desi Delights. Varieties including samosas, chaats, grilled sandwiches, dosas, Indo-Chineese, Biryanis, Punjabi dishes, and wonderous Holi themed drinks like Tandai, Mango Shakes, and Nimbu Pani. Kwality Ice Cream added the finishing touches with a variety of their own receipes of Indian and mainstream Icea Creams and Faloodas. Eggholic served the hardworking backstage Masala Management and Sponsors with live Paneer Sandwiches, Dabeli, and Pani Puri. “This was the best selection of Indian street foods I have seen at any event in Houston” Nirmanz introduced a Holi classic Thandai beverage and Honest brought back their Toronado Potato – a crowd favourite. By 2pm there was so much color in the air that the sky looked was covered in pink clouds. The scene was just magical. Is this how Radha & Krishna felt when they were playing Holi & the Gods showered colors upon them? Increased Harris County deputies and new parking management team did a great job to try and move the chocker blocked traffic such that waits were down to 15-20 minutes even at peak hours, and everyone found a spot.

Without Divine Grace and hundreds of local supports including the Crazy Masala Crew, it just wouldn’t have turned into the best Festival of Colors ever! Kudos to: Office Management: Rinku, Jigisha, Bhavisha, Suji, Chaitali, Vyoma, Aahi,l Nilesha & Vidya. Event: Ruchir, Ninad, Mrugesh, Simran T, Priyanshi, Badal, Eshal, Rashmie & Luis. Ticketing: Sangeeta, Lauhuel, Dinesh, Abhishek, Daisy & Ricardo, . Stage: Haroon, Yumna, Dilip, Suji, Rajoo, Preanka, Josh, Sahil, Mehran, Harshin, Nikhil, Priya, Esha & Sofia. Radio Jockeys: Anish, Amit, Panki, Ina.. Photo & Video: SMB Studios. Photos & Videos on / Facebook & Instagram Houston Holi and MasalaRadio98.7FM. Marvelous Dance Schools and Teams: Etherea Studios Group, Swathi, Any1 Can Dance, Kathak Nritya, Dadhak, Katy Bollywood, Khushboo Dance, Spotlight Dance, Aditi’s Bollywood, Synergy Indian, Drycreek Dancing Divas, Infused Performing Arts, T2 Dance, Bollywood Dancing Stars, Indiawaale, Team Raabta & Houston Bhangra Academy.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024• March 8, 2024 3 COMMUNITY
Left: Fort Bend County primary winners included Taral Patel (D-Precinct 3 Commissioner race). Right: Ali Sheikhani (R-Constable Precinct 3 race).

A Joyful Celebration of Life for Our Own Mama: Shakuntla Malhotra!

Houston: For mama it was a big surprise and she said so when asked how she felt about the outpouring of adulation from a hall full of admirers. “Mujhe toh patta bhi nahin tha ke yeh honne wala hai (I had no idea that this was going to happen)”, she said when her elder son Jayant asked her for a reaction. “I just go along with what my sons set up for me”, she continued, as the hall of people tittered in amusement.

The Celebration of Life was a way for the many guests, for whom mama has a special spot in their hearts, to come together and share their love and receive her blessings.

Over the past twenty years, mama - as the 96-year-old Shakuntla Malhotra has become affectionately known across the city - has become embedded in the community through her recollections of her experience of the Indian Partition leaving her ancestral home of

Lyallpur for a reconstructed life in Delhi as well as her widely popular Punjabi recipes that were featured in Indo American News for three years.

This reporter – and her younger son – has taken mama to many a community function in the twenty years and she has endeared herself

to so many people for her tender way of meeting them with a smile and a gentle hug. “She has become your mama, especially for those who miss their parents whom you’ve left in the old country’, said Jawahar. Her elder son Jayant had flown in from Chicago for the occasion and he recollected key mo-

ments in mama’s life as she traveled across the world due to her husband Jagdish’s work as a diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, living in London, Karachi, Teheran, Bern and Bucharest and visiting many more countries.

The event was held on Sunday, March 3 at Indian Summer restau-

rant in Sugar Land, and co-owner Rajan Radhakrishnan personally handled the luncheon. Riva Desai Walker and her husband Caleb Cordell set up the balloons and backdrop made by Vaishnavi Tata, an aspiring event planner. The sound system was by the energetic Darshak Thacker who came with his wife Mona and 6-year old son Aryan. Much sought after photographer Navin Mediwala graciously took pictures and video.

Serenading mama and her admirers were Manisha Gandhi who sang two beautiful Hindi songs; Surinder Talwar (who claims mama as his sister as she is also of a Talwar family) who sang two Punjabi songs and Kijana Wisemen who sang the Brittney Houston hit “The Greatest Love of All”. As a late request from this reporter, Kijana sang the gospel number “Oh Happy Day” and was accompanied on chorus by Nora Ezeako as the audience was asked to sing the refrain and clap along.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024 • www.IndoAmerIcAn-news March 8, 2024 4 COMMUNITY LOW COST SENIORS APARTMENT RENTAL Meadows Place Seniors Village 936-777-0351 12221 S. Kirkwood Rd #100 Meadows Place, Texas 77477
Mama with her sons Jayant (left( and Jawahar. Kijana singing. Other singers included Manisha Gandhi (above). Surinder Talwar sang two Punjabi songs.
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024• March 8, 2024 5

DAV School Students Shine in Texas Rodeo Art Competition 2024

Houston: DAV Montessori & Elementary School (DAVMES) hosted students, parents and wellwishers on Friday February 12 for the Family Nite gathering. Activities included games, toy-train ride for kids, fundraising through an auction sale of items which engaged the creative skills of teachers, and mouth-watering savories and food.

Texas Rodeo Art Competition 2024

It was also time to celebrate the participation of DAVMES students in the Texas Rodeo Art Competition 2024. Jay T. bagged the Gold Medal, and Rohasena I., Ansh S., Manya J., Akshara C., Arvin K., Prisha S., Ishaan B., Suri D., Shaurya I. were the Award of Excellence Winners.

Outstanding Achievements at PSIA Academic District Meet

March 2, 2024: Twenty-seven DAVMES students showcased their academic prowess and creativity during the PSIA Academic District Meet, engaging in a diverse range of competitions such as Math, Number Sense, Ready Writing, and more.

The team’s return with a remarkable haul of awards: 15 first place ribbons, 12 second place, 12 third place, 10 fourth place, 2 fifth place, and 6 sixth place in various categories speaks volumes about the

dedication and hard work of both students and teachers. Congratulations to all participants for their incredible success! DAVMES students won the trophy of the Texas State PSIA Academic Meet over two consecutive years 2022 & 2023.

Best wishes to the 14 students who advanced to the state meet (scheduled for end April). They are setting new benchmarks for academic excellence and ambition for DAVMES. DAV Montessori & Elementary School (DAVMS) has been serving the Indian community since August 2000 with academic excellence and Spiritual growth.

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StopHateNow The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted 77 hate crime cases in the last 7 years. The most ever, by any District Attorney’s office in Texas. If you see or experience a hate crime, report it. HCDAO VICTIMS SERVICES (713) 274-0250 ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE (713) 627-3490 LGBT SWITCHBOARD 24-HOUR HELPLINE (713) 529-3211 THE MONTROSE CENTER (713) 529-0037
Twenty-seven DAVMES students showcased their academic prowess and creativity during the PSIA Academic District Meet DAVMES student Jay Tavkar & Ms Preet with Jay’s gold medal winning picture 2024
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‘Kanpur ka Tarana’ Vaibhav Wins Indian Idol 14

M u MB ai (IANS): ‘Kanpur ka Tarana’ Vaibhav Gupta has lifted the coveted trophy of the singing reality show ‘Indian Idol 14’. The trophy came with a cheque for Rs 25 lakh and a ‘Hot and Techy’ Brezza car.

Vaibhav was one of the six finalists, who included Shubhadeep Das Chowdhury, Ananya Pal, Adya Mishra, Piyush Panwar and Anjana Padmanabhan.

Shubhadeep and Piyush were declared the first and second runners-up, and they went back home with a trophy and a cheque of Rs 5 lakh each. Ananya was the third runner-up, which entitled her to Rs 3 lakh, besides a trophy.

Sonu Nigam, who judged the first two and ninth editions of the show, was the special judge for the grand finale. Neha Kakkar, who will be seen as the ‘super judge’ in the upcoming season of the reality show, ‘Superstar Singer’, also joined the finale episode.

For the ‘Pyarelal Symphony’ challenge, Vaibhav sang ‘Jumma Chumma’, from the 1991 action crime drama ‘Hum’, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Govinda, Kimi Katkar and Anupam Kher.

Vaibhav’s last song for the finale was a duet with Sonu Nigam.

They belted out ‘Joru Ka Ghulam’, the titular song of the Year 2000 comedy featuring Govinda, Twinkle Khanna, Kader Khan, and Johnny Lever.

Stating how surreal

it felt to lift the coveted ‘Indian Idol 14’ trophy, which first went to Abhijeet Sawant, Vaibhav said: “Taking forward the legacy of this beloved and prestigious show is a tremendous honor. This journey has been an exhilarating rollercoaster filled with multiple emotions, challenges and unforgettable moments.”

The acclaimed playback singer Kumar Sanu, one of the show’s three judges, said: ” From the moment I first saw his performance, I recognized his immense potential.”

Fellow judge Shreya Ghoshal amplified Sanu’s sentiments: “Right from the audition, Vaibhav has shown versatility and throughout the competition, he has kept surprising us with his performances.”

Vishal Dadlani, the third judge, concluded by noting that Vaibhav showed “versatility in his vocals”, and that it has been “incredible to see him perform live”. He added: “Personally, I can’t wait to see the success that comes his way.”


Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024• March 8, 2024 9 ®All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the written consent of the publisher. Deadline for advertising and articles is 4 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published at 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 212, Houston, Texas 77036.Tel:713-789-6397, email:, website: Indo American News Founder: dr. K.l. sindwani PuBlisHer: JawaHar MalHotra editor: PraMod KulKarni
Gagan Mann,
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‘Laapataa Ladies’: Sass and Substance

Story: Trouble ensues when two young brides Phool Kumari (Nitanshi Goel) and Pushpa (Pratibha Ratna) get accidentally swapped during a train journey. Phool’s hapless husband Deepak Kumar (Sparsh Shrivastav) seeks help from a corrupt cop Shyam Manohar (Ravi Kishan), adding to the chaos.

Review: Kiran Rao’s directorial debut ‘Dhobi Ghat’ was a haunting, almost voyeuristic portrait of shattered hope, and dreams in Mumbai. Set in rural India, Laapataa Ladies, a sharp satire, is her return to direction after 14 years and the dramedy stuns you with its clever social commentary and heartfelt sisterhood.

Laced with delightful moments, the messaging isn’t overbearing. It never overshadows the entertainment quotient as Rao masterfully uses humour and veiled identity (ghunghat) to reflect upon deepseated patriarchy and its repercussions. Her light-hearted, sliceof-life storytelling makes a solid case for women empowerment, education, and equality without disparaging men or succumbing to prejudice. “Dowry nahi liya toh ladke mein khot hogi”, comments a female character mocking a liberal man.

Family friendly and acutely observed, Biplab Goswami and Sne-

ha Desai’s story and script provide food for thought. Every character is flawed but likeable, especially the corrupt but conscientious Shyam Manohar. Ravi Kishan is outstanding in his portrayal of a man, who is both greedy and just. The lead new faces do a commendable job, too.

The film’s most memorable scene sums up the movie’s intent perfectly. Hardened by life, a middle-aged tea stall owner Manju (an impeccable Chhaya Kadam who sort of replays her Sairat character) chooses to live alone instead of tolerating disrespect and domestic violence. She tells Phool, “If those who love you have a right to hit you, I exercised

my right, too. (mic drop! No Animal was harmed in the making of this one liner).”

A girl is never smart, she is over smart. A woman is not clever, she is cunning. Laapataa Ladies tramples these age-old narratives by stating loud and clear, “A ‘respectable’ girl is the biggest fraud in society’, as it conditions her to not question the status quo. The story doesn’t allow women to play the victim card either. It sternly says, “It’s not shameful to be a fool but being proud of one’s ignorance is a shame.”

A delectable blend of heart, mind, and humour, this one’s an absolute winner. -- Times of India

‘Kaagaz 2’: Father’s Pursuit for Justice

Story: A middleclass father loses his only daughter in a tragic incident when they get caught in the midst of a political rally. He decides to challenge the system and is joined by a lawyer and the lawyer’s son in his fight for fundamental rights.

Review: Uday Raj Singh (Darshan Kumaar) drops out from the Indian Military Academy because of lack of discipline and in a sudden turn of events,

meets his estranged father Raj Narayan (Anupam Kher), an ailing lawyer. Unwilling to forgive him for abandoning him and his mother Radhika (Neena Gupta), he has a change of heart when he sees his father fighting a court case on behalf of Mr Rastogi (the late Satish Kaushik). In a tragic incident, the latter had lost his only daughter during a political rally, and he’s on a relentless pursuit for justice.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024• March 8, 2024 11 Solution Next Week Send us the correct answer before March 12, 2024. Email us at Please send us your solved Sudoku for your name to be published. 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. Last Week’s Solution Recent Winners Kumud Athavale, Krishna R. Vuddagiri, Sanchali Basu, Prabha Barvalia, Ramana Vadrevu, Yudhveer Bagga, Taranjit Singh, Sai Lakshmi Subramanian, Sahiti Palle, Arup Gupta, Prabha Narumanchi, Kausalya Gopal, Bhavna Patel ENTERTAINMENT

Foundation for India Studies (FIS) Participates in

Houston: The Foundation for India Studies (FIS) demonstrated solidarity with Houston’s black community by actively participating in the 30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Grande Parade. Originally scheduled for MLK Day on January 15th, the parade was rescheduled due to freezing weather and eventually took place on February 17th, 2024, amidst challenging weather conditions.

Despite the unfavorable weather conditions, ten bravehearts from FIS boldly marched in the parade, determined not to break the organization’s twelfth consecutive year of participation. The month of February is also recognised as a “Black History” month by all civic and Governmental authorities in America. The MLK Grande Parade, one of the largest multicultural events in the U.S., honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This year’s theme, “We Still Believe,” resonated with various participating groups, reflecting the enduring belief in Dr. King’s dream of equality and justice. FIS was joined by enthusiastic high school students from the greater Houston area, adding youthful energy to the event.

Event Chairman Sudhakar Tallavajhula, supported by FIS board members, led the group, showcasing their commitment to honoring Dr. King’s legacy. High school participants actively contributed

to event planning, organized peers, and carried the FIS banner, symbolizing the common vision shared by Dr. King and India’s freedom movement leader, Mahatma Gandhi.

The unexpected adverse weather conditions on that day did not dampen the spirit of participants and onlookers who passionately cheered and waved as the

FIS group, representing both the United States and India, paraded through the route.

The FIS banner served as a poignant reminder of the shared philosophies embraced by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King. Spectators chanted phrases such as “Peace!” and “Non-violence,” paying tribute to the remarkable legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King.

tions to the American Civil Rights Movement were instrumental in ending legalized racial discrimination in the United States.

FIS remained dedicated to commemorating the legacies of Gandhi and Dr. King, celebrating their commitment to peaceful resistance and non-violent struggles. The organization extends sincere gratitude to high school volunteers, parents, and all participants for their crucial roles in organizing and executing this meaningful event.

For more information about FIS and its commitment to honoring the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., please visit our website: www. and/ or contact Krishna Vavilala, Founder, Chairman, Foundation for India Studies Inc.(FIS): 713795-5169.

The parade became a powerful platform to revive the influence of these leaders, whose nonviolent approaches catalyzed positive societal transformations.

Mahatma Gandhi, known for his nonviolent resistance against British colonial rule, inspired movements globally, with Dr. King being an early adopter of Gandhi’s philosophy. Dr. King’s contribu-

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From Left to Right: Raina Desai, Krishna Vavilala, Sudhakar Tallavajhula (Event Chair), Parul Fernandes (President of ICC), Rhea Desai, Netra Tallavajhula, Sonali Gupta, Sophia Matthew, Dr. Sudha Tallavajhula. ( photo by: Amanda Vavilala).


‘Dimensions of Tabla’ with Guru Shantilal Shah Captivates Houston Audience

Houston: A packed house at the Stafford Civic Center resonated with the vibrant rhythms and melodies of Dimensions of Tabla.

Organized by the Indian Music Society, Houston, and led by the esteemed Guru Shantilal Shah, the event showcased the crucial role of tabla players in enriching musical performances.

The evening began with a warm welcome by emcee Jigisha Doshi, who set the stage by emphasizing the importance of patience and attentiveness in experiencing the intricacies of classical music. She also introduced and acknowledged the tireless efforts and commitment of the distinguished Guru Shantilal Shah.

In September 2023, Pandit Shantilal Shah completed an astounding 20 years of teaching in Houston. Thanks were given to those who have supported him, including Dr. Rathna and Anil Kumar of Sanskriti, Shri Ravi and Hema Iyer of Swaralayam arts forum, and Mr. Govind Shetty and Mr. Suresh Shenoy of IMS Houston. The tabla community is grateful for his dedication, passion, and invaluable musical legacy he has imparted.

The concert unfolded with four distinct performances, each showcasing a different dimension of tabla accompaniment. The evening started with a mesmerizing

solo performance by Dhruv Vishwanath, accompanied by Tejas Rode on the harmonium. His presentation of a traditional Tabla solo, including Peshkar, Kaidas, Rela, Tukras and Chakradaars in Taal Teentaal demonstrated his technical prowess and captivated the audience.

Chethan Anant on bansuri and Arun Sabapathy on tabla presented a captivating display of instrumental collaboration. Chethan played Alaap, Jod and Jhala in the rare raag Maalgunji followed by a gat in Rupak and fast tempo Teentaal. He concluded his perfor-

mance with a semi classical piece. Arun maintained a fast pace and responded swiftly to the nuances of the bansuri, showcasing the mental agility and skill required in this accompaniment.

Vocalist Shamik Bose was accompanied by Jason Zinn on tabla and Tejas Rode on harmonium. They mesmerized the audience with their sensitive and nuanced performance. Shamik Bose presented a vilambit khayal and drut bandish in raag Jog followed by a Hori. Jason beautifully complemented the emotional journey of the vocalist with a steady and

powerful theka, highlighting the importance of understanding the raag and adapting to its changing moods and rhythms. The final performance featured a graceful Kathak dance by Ekta Popat, accompanied by Anuraag Shah on tabla, Aparna Shah on vocals, Shaily Bhandari with padhant, Tejas Rode on harmonium, and Chethan Anant on flute. Ekta Popat started her kathak performance with a Shiv Vandana, followed by taal Rupak, a thumri and lastly a Tatkar in drut teental where she was joined by two of her students. Anuraag led off with

a powerful solo which set the tone for the performance. Throughout the dance items, he showed his prowess with his expressive accompaniment and creative solo pieces.

Dimensions of Tabla served as a powerful reminder of the significance of tabla accompaniment in Indian classical music. The concert showcased the performers’ virtuosity and educated the audience about the intricate relationship between musicians and their instruments. This memorable event will inspire future generations to appreciate and learn this unique art form.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024• March 8, 2024 13
Group photo after the concert.


Most Lavish Wedding of All Time? Anant Ambani + Radhika Merchant

JaMnagar, india: If the golf course seemed slightly more empty this weekend, it may be because several of the world’s billionaires were attending the same pre-wedding bash in India. Anant Ambani, the son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is marrying Radhika Merchant this summer, and they threw a huge anticipatory celebration in the Indian city of Jamnagar. This party had everything: a Rihanna performance, a nine-page dress code, Mark Zuckerberg. Here’s everything we know about the biggest matrimonial celebration since Mukesh Ambani’s other kids got married.

Who’s getting married? Anant Ambani, the youngest son of Mukesh Ambani, is marrying Radhika Merchant. Who are these people? Great question. Mukesh is the ninth-richest person in the world and the richest in Asia, according to Forbes. He’s the chair of Reliance Industries, one of those companies that somehow does business in oil, textiles, telecommunications, and entertainment. Merchant isn’t exactly a commoner either. Her father is Viren Merchant, CEO of Encore Healthcare and a billionaire in his own right.

As a reminder, these two lovebirds aren’t even marrying until July. This weekend-long bash was just the pre-wedding celebration. So imagine your wedding shower but Mark Zuckerberg is there and the party lasts multiple days. Speaking of Zuck …

Who was on the guest list?

Think of a rich guy and he was probably at this celebration. According to Forbes, this event was a who’s who of crusty old businessmen and Rihanna. That’s right, Rihanna was there and she performed. The singer is reportedly being paid around $9 million for her appearance and, according to TMZ, she didn’t travel light. The tabloid shared a video allegedly

showing the “literal crates of crap” she has brought along. Additionally, David Blaine was reportedly there to do some magic. Fun!

When Riri looked out into the audience, she might have seen a sea of fellow billionaires (and some lowly millionaires). In addition to Zuckerberg, the guest list of 1,200 included Bill Gates, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor and the basis for Ari on Entourage, scored an invite. From the entertainment world, Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan were both in attendance. And what would a bash this monied and spectacular be without a little tension? Apparently, both Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton were both invited, though it appears only Trump showed up. It’s deeply upsetting to me that we never got a Succession episode set at the prewedding party of an Indian billionaire’s son.

beauty magnate played all the hits, including “Work,” “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and “Stay.”

We may never get the new album, but if you have millions of dollars, you can still get a Rihanna concert. Consider that a life hack.

Did they do anything fun? For these guys, I imagine wheeling

What’s the precedent for this?

Anant is the youngest of Mukesh Ambani’s children and the third to be married. When his sister, Isha, got married in 2018, Beyoncé performed. In 2019, Isha’s twin brother married and he had Coldplay perform at his pre-wedding bash (the Chainsmokers were also there). It seems that if you’re one of the Ambani children, you’re guaranteed a musician who put on a really good Super Bowl halftime show. You can also tack on the Chainsmokers, I guess.

How was Rihanna’s performance? From the videos that have made their way online, it appears that she slayed. The singer turned

and dealing is the fun part, but there were activities outside of that. Of course, lavish dinners were held each night. Reuters reports that across the festivities guests dined on 500 dishes by 100 chefs. The main attraction, however, was a visit to an animal-rescue center run by Reliance.

“Anant has lovingly nurtured this complex into a haven of care and compassion for thousands of rescued animals,” the invitation reads, per the Times of London. The groomto-be has a passion for animals, and the rescue center has one of the world’s largest elephant hospitals. Cool! The dress code instructed guests to adhere to a “jungle fever” theme for this particular excursion, which, according to Reuters, means animalprint clothing or Hawaiian shirts.

Anant clarified to India Today that the visit was not for “recreation or enjoyment”; rather it was for “educational purposes.”

What’s everyone supposed to wear? The theme is “nautical chic.” I’m just playing, but the Times reports that guests received a nine-page dress code for the entire weekend. In addition to the “jungle fever” directive, guests were expected to wear traditional Indian garb to the major events. According to the Times, one evening required that guests wear “dazzling” Indian outfits, while the final party requested a “Heritage Indian” dress code. If you’re wondering what that looks like, thankfully people were not shy about posting to Instagram. Zuckerberg donned a flashy top that he definitely describes as his “party shirt.” In a different post, Bill Gates wrote that the Meta CEO has “always been great at dressing for the occasion.” I don’t think Zuck looks bad, but that’s a funny thing to say about a guy who was famous for exclusively wearing hoodies and slides for a decade. -- The Cut

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 8, 2024 • www.IndoAmerIcAn-news
March 8, 2024
Pop star Rihanna with Bollywood actress Janhvi Kapoor at the prewedding bash.

India Off the Beaten Track: Walking Back through Time – Mysteries of Konkan

The Konkan region of Maharashtra offers many attractions: secluded beaches, lagoons ringed with coconut palms and mangroves, lonely roads winding through forested hills, seafood and other culinary delights, delectable ‘hapus’ mangoes and great sea forts standing guard over the coast like ancient sentinels.

I have written about these in an earlier piece on Konkan. My visit this time is to explore dimensions of the history of this land, the mysteries of which I find enticing. And that brings me once again to Sindhudurg, the southernmost district of Maharashtra.

I am in the town of Vengurla, a picturesque harbour with an eye catching lighthouse north of Goa. Also to be found here are remnants of Dutch presence centuries ago. The scramble by European powers for trade in the east saw the establishment of trading companies from the beginning of the 17th century.

The English were the first off the mark with the East India Company in 1600, followed by the Dutch, the Danes, the Portuguese and the French. The Dutch set up about two dozen ‘Factories’ or trading posts including one at Vengurla for which they had obtained the permission of the Sultan of Bijapur. They built their Factory here in 1638. The choice from the trade perspective was a curious one and was dictated more by strategic considerations. The Dutch Republic (a rarity in an era of monarchies) was a powerful and prosperous nation. It had its eyes on the lucrative spice trade in Cochin which was then under Portuguese control. The Dutch used Vengurla to exert pressure on their rivals leading to a months-long naval blockade of Goa which was the major Portuguese possession in India. They succeeded in ejecting the Portuguese from Cochin in 1663 after which their interest in Vengurla evaporated and they abandoned their factory in 1682. It was later taken over by the English.

Today, almost 400 years after its construction, the Dutch Factory at Vengurla lies in utter ruin, its masonry either collapsed, soon to fall or entangled in vegetation(a scarcely legible notice at the entrance warns that the structure is unsafe). But as I walk through the desolation it appears to me that I am looking at what must have been a handsome edifice. Built in the prevailing European style with large halls and several rooms, it was protected by fortification on its perimeter. A lithograph of the mid nineteenth century bears evidence. A photograph taken in 1909 shows that the building was still in use 300 years after its construction. The site is now under the “care” of the archaeology department of the state government. Its dilapidated condition gives the impression that the caretaker has abandoned its ward.

As I walk out of the ruins in the heat and humidity, I wonder what the scantily dressed native in a tur-

ban, dhoti and no footwear, would have thought of the overdressed Dutchman in his tall hat, doublet worn over a long sleeved shirt with broad lace collar, breeches and long boots. Surely such enormously impractical and uncomfortable attire worn in stifling heat by the ‘gora log’ must have provided much amusement to the locals.

Prithviraj Barde teaches science at a local school. He is also a history and archaeology buff who has studied several ancient sites in Konkan. It is at his suggestion that I am in the village of Pendur an hour’s drive from Vengurla. A narrow path by the side of the temple of the local deity Sateri Devi leads me to the forest behind. Here in a clearing, scattered around an ancient stone platform, lie a number of stone carvings in various stages of preservation; some of them executed with considerable artistic skill. There is a statue of Lord Mahavir,founder of the Jain religion; there are Hindu figures in stone and entangled in a tree is a female figure holding a child. Barde has informed me that the artefacts date back a thousand years to the Shilahara dynasty whose kings ruled over Konkan and were patrons of both the Hindu and Jain religions.

It is an eclectic collection and it appears to me that the artefacts may have been found in the vicinity over a period of time and placed in this small area. I find that intriguing. If my impression is true then the forest beyond may hold many more such treasures. And if so, was there an ancient settlement here which has now been covered by the jungle? Only an archaeological exploration may answer the question.

I have read about recent discoveries in Konkan of petroglyphs or prehistoric carvings on rock. Over 70 sites with as many as 1700 petroglyphs have been identified, some of which have been included by UNESCO in its tentative list of World Heritage Sites. These petroglyphs belong to the Mesolithic or middle Stone Age period between 10,000 – 20,000 BCE. Prithviraj Barde has suggested that I visit Kudopi which happens to be on the UNESCO list.

A pleasant drive over a narrow road and through a thick forest brings me to Kudopi village. I find a small group of village folk near the temple and I make my enquiries. One of the group introduces himself as Ashok Walve and offers to lead me to the petroglyphs. His younger kinsman Santosh Walve also joins us. We walk a short distance through the neat little village and then it’s a strenuous climb uphill over a rough track. The foliage overhead protects from the fierce sun until we reach the hilltop which opens onto a plateau covered mostly by rock. There are no trees here and the sun beats upon me mercilessly. It feels like a long walk to the petroglyphs across the plateau and I am exhausted when I get there. As during my trips to the

Dutch Factory and Pendur sculptures , I am the only visitor here besides my guides. There are about 40 petroglyphs of various sizes spread over a fairly large area. I see figures of humans, animals and some intriguingly abstract designs carved over the rocky terrain. With only the primitive tools of the Stone Age available to them our Mesolithic ancestors must have possessed considerable talent and tenacity to create this prehistoric art gallery.

So who were these people and where did they come from? Santosh Walve who hasn’t travelled much beyond his village, tells me that it was the Pandava brothers (of Mahabharata fame). Ashok Walve who has lived and worked in Mumbai shakes his head sceptically. We don’t know who these people were, he says. I imagine that Erich Von Daniken, that writer of many unbelievable bestsellers and pseudo archaeologist , would attribute these creations to extraterrestrials without batting an eyelid, were he to visit. The answer may well lie at Koloshi, about 20 kilometres from here as the crow flies. Recently in a cave here stone tools of the Palaeolithic or old Stone Age period have been discovered. These are estimated to be about 50,000 years old. Our petroglyph artists may well be the descendants of the makers of these tools.

On the way back Santosh invites me to his dwelling in the village where I meet his wife. After a drink of cool and refreshing water from the spring which supplies the village, the hospitable couple offers me tea and homemade laddoos. The sugary tea sends a burst of energy coursing through my rather weary person. I don’t think I have ever felt so grateful for a cup of tea. Ashok then insists I have lunch at the village temple. Today happens to be one of the two auspicious days in the year when lunch is offered by the temple to villagers. It is lunchtime and I accept the invitation. It’s simple fare – rice, dal and a vegetable curry served on an eco friendly plate crafted from leaves.

These places that I have visited have told me interesting stories but I am sure there are infinitely more that they hide. But one story that I would like to tell is common to all these historical and prehistoric sites – it is one of extraordinary neglect on part of the authorities whose responsibility it should be to look after them. They have been unable to even provide something as simple as a signboard for the guidance of visitors. With the eventual granting of the UNESCO World Heritage status the petroglyphs at least would receive some attention and efforts would be made for their preservation……hopefully!

Retired from the Indian Foreign Service, Shashishekhar Gavai served as India’s Consul General in Houston during 2005 to 2008. His last post prior to retirement was serving as the High Commissioner in Canada. Living in Mumbai, Mr. Gavai enjoys traveling off the beaten track.

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Dutch Factory – lithograph c. 1850 Dutch Factory – present day Pendur- female with child Kudopi – petroglyph
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