World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) – Membership Appreciation Day, Boston, MA Chapter

1370953864_3World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) organized a membership appreciation day on Sunday, April 27 at American Legion Banquet Hall in Newton. This event was organized to thank members and supporters who have associated with VHPA by coming to its programs or supporting its activities, and enriched this organization with their tireless energy, love & dedication. The event was designed to share with the members the vision, mission and details of current national programs that are in place to serve our community in this country and to get valuable insights from the members to enhance the quality of our programs and seek help in sustaining our values and tradition in the generations to come.

On behalf of VHPA’s Boston and Merrimack Valley Chapters, this event was organized by Sanjay & Bela Kaul. It turned out to be a lovely get-together of like-minded members of Hindu community in Boston area. The ambience was beautiful. A large chandelier in the middle of a spacious ball room with decorated tables, flowers, Natraj idol, and tastefully decorated stage for musicians and little children greeting guests by applying kumkum tilak created a warm atmosphere. Our culture and values of reverence to elders, affection for families and young children was evident in the manner Shri Sanjay Kaul conducted the program and introduced the main speaker Shri Abhaya Asthana (National President of VHPA) and the musicians who participated in the cultural segment of the evening.

The evening festivities began with lighting of the ceremonial lamp by Smt. Ragini Mehta wife of the founding patron of VHPA Shri Mahesh Mehta. This was followed by recitation of Ekta Mantra by Vani Sharma and Preethi Ganesh.

Sanjay Kaul started with a brief description of VHPA and the purpose of the program. He introduced the office bearers of the two chapters of VHPA. The program started with a beautiful melody presented by little Ms. Sunshine, ten year old Sachi Badola, disciple of Smt. Shuchita Rao, who has a voice that holds a great emotional and expressive appeal. In the likeness of an accomplished singer, Ms. Badola’s melody effortlessly captured the sincerity and earnestness of the lyrics as they appeal to the Lord in “Prabhu Tum Antarayaami, Dayaa Karo, Dayaa Karo Hey Swaami.” Sachi stole everyone’s heart with her talent.

The next presentation came from Smt. Shuchita Rao. Words fail us, as we try to describe the beauty of Shuchita’s sweet voice and the breathtaking climaxes of her lovely renditions. Shuchitaji gave a poised and sureela performance. Her music segment had traditional khayal, taraana and devotional compositions of Hindustani classical music preserved and propagated through the centuries from hands of one master musician to another. Tabla by Shri Nitin Mitta and harmonium accompaniment by Shri Rohan Prabhudesai brought out the best in the artists and were well appreciated by the audience.

As the evening progressed, Dr. Abhaya Asthana came up on the stage with the message that the whole event was geared towards. His power point presentation elaborated the mission and objectives of VHP in America, expressed in our four pronged mission of prachar, samskar, seva and sampark. To connect is the essence of our work. We bring together people of all colors, all hues, and from all regions Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Gujarat to Assam. He stressed the urgency for the Indian American population to establish a fund that will sustain VHPA’s programs for all age groups. Abhayji’s speech highlighted various measures taken by VHP in the recent past to assist the underprivileged in India as well as victims of natural disasters such as tsunami, hurricanes and earthquakes around the world including here in the USA. Abhayaji showcased VHPA’s achievements. His lecture was a treat for our ears and a matter of pride for the Hindu community.

Ajay Kaul was invited to sing a song from film Agneepath. This was followed by the thoughtful poetry of Sunayana Kachroo which focused on national integration.

Later in the evening came a transcending experience as Shri Anurag Harsh, an accomplished Classical Hindustani Singer took the stage and performed Raga Malkauns.
The name “Malkauns” is derived from “Malava Kaushik,” an old melody that finds mention in Sangeet Ratnakara of Sharangdeva. The current swaroopa of the raga that Anurag performed is conjectured to be around 300-400 years old. In this pentatonic audava-audava raga often called the Nrip of all Hindustani Ragas, Anurag tried to evoke via Dhwani Sadhana, the feeling of Nada Brahma for the attending shrotagan (audience). Using the Kirana gharana style of deep adhyatmic chanting Anurag presented excerpts of five distinct khayals in various tala and layas developed by his Guruji to allow the listeners to forget their day to day worries and for a short period, be completely at peace and completely unified with Bhagvan’s divine truth, the feeling of divine bliss, in the form of mellifluous ‘Naad Brahma’ or the sound divine. All khayals except for the Tarana at the end were his Guruji Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s. Anurag ended his performance with a self-composed Tarana in 16 beat time cycle also known as Teen Taal.

The artist introduced the raga gently to the audience, romancing each note, playfully showing its different facets. The evening unfurled slowly as the beautiful notes lilted and played to the gentle beats of the tabla. Gradually the romance picked passion, the beats from the Tabla built a hedonic tempo and the artist improvised beautifully as he let his voice marry the complicated rhythms from the Tabla and harmonium. They were a breathtaking trio (Anurag, Nitin Mitta & Rohan Prabhudesai) that left the audience with an awe inspiring experience and renewed its love for Hindustani classical music.

The whole evening was a visual and aural treat in every respect. At the end, Sanjay Kaul thanked the audience for their participation and then all the presenters were recognized for their talents and contribution. The program ended with Bhojan Mantra. And of course not to forget the sumptuous food to top off the soirée.