Source: Official Press release by the Konkani Sammelan 2016 commitee
Over two years of preparation by the very small Konkani community of Atlanta culminated in the grand quadrennial event “Konkani Sammelan 2016” held at Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) from July 1 to 3, 2016.
This event was attended by over 1400 attendees from US, Canada, Norway, Republic of Korea, Switzerland & UAE. 65 family names were represented led by Kamaths, Shenoys, Pais, Nayaks, & Prabhus.
Guests had started arriving right from June 29th. Convenient locations of hotels close to the Atlanta airport and GICC made it easy for them to walk to the venue or take a shuttle. 900 hotel rooms were reserved for the guests and made available at a concessional rate. A medical symposium (CME) was organized for medical professionals on the morning of July 1st and Sightseeing tours of Atlanta were organized on July 4th for guests.
GICC was well decorated in beautiful colors to welcome guests. Registration began at 2 pm and all attendees collected their name tags, and souvenir. There were vendor stalls selling artistic handicrafts & other wares. Three stages (interestingly named: Song, Toi & Saaru) were erected for performers to showcase their talent.
Konkani Sammelan 2016 began on Friday, July 1 with Shankhnaad by Dr.Narasinha Kamath & Deep Prajwalan by five senior couples. Before the start of programs, one minute silence was observed in memory of all departed souls. National anthems of US, Canada & India began the show. The highlight of Friday evening was the Konkani “Yakshagana” that was staged in the US for the first time by Ajeeth Prabhu & Prathima Nayak.
After a sumptuous Amchigele breakfast on Saturday and a short speech by Raj Kini, President of Konkani Sammelan 2016 followed by another short speech by Sheila Shenoy Reddy, President, NAKA, Konkani Association of Georgia (KAOG), the host committee staged a spectacular opening ceremony tracing the journey of Konkanis. This performance consisted of dances, skits, slideshows & mimes strung together with Sanjay Rao’s commentary. Radhika & Sanjay Rao together with performers from Atlanta received high praise for their fantastic performance that held audience enthralled for 90 minutes. During the day, there were dances, dramas, game shows, lectures
& seminars presented by performers across US & Canada. Specially for kids, there was a day camp on both days organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) where kids had a great time in creative activities such as craft, drawing & outdoor games. Keynote speeches by Anand Kini, CFO, NBC Universal & Sachi Shenoy, Partner, Upaya Ventures were heard in rapt attention by the audience. Children’s film in Konkani “Aa Vai Jaa Saa” by Vastu Ramesh Kamath was premiered and well received by kids and adults alike. Prime time show on Saturday evening was a Magic show by invited artist from India, Om Ganesh Kamath, followed by a colorful dance-drama “Shubhamangalantu Gondholu” presented by performers from New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania ably produced & directed by Sucheta & Abhijit Trasi. The climax of the Saturday program was a melodious vocal recital by Balachandra Prabhu accompanied by renowned tabla player Pt.Omkar Gulvady, and on Harmonium by Suresh Benegal. The audience loved this program and kept asking for more.
Sunday featured another keynote address by M V Kini of M V Kini and Co law firm in Mumbai, followed by humorous skits presented by Konkanis across US, skillful dances by amchigele dancers and stand up comedy shows. Konkanis were recognized during the Awards Ceremony. Incoming Board Members of NAKA (North American Konkani Association) were introduced by outgoing President, Sheila Reddy. After a brief break in the afternoon for setup, Sunday evening began with a musical program presented by kids across US leading to the closing ceremony. Banquet dinner was served. After the dinner, guests & hosts danced away till the wee hours of Monday morning to the musical beats of Desi Rhythms, a local Atlanta band.
Aside from a plethora of entertainment programs, amchis, we know, appreciate being fed well! Annapoorneshwari Food Committee and the Chef Satish Marathe Rao who brought his sous chefs all the way from Houston prepared a menu that was so extraordinary that by the end of Sunday, guests were wondering if there was any Konkani item that was not served. For the first time in Konkani Sammelan history, non-veg items prepared in Konkani style were served. In addition to the typical Amchi dishes like dali toi, batatya song, tendle bibya upkari, chana ghashi and goli baje, there were delicacies such as Kori Roti, Ubbati (Puran Poli) and Patoli served. Every evening, there was a cocktail hour where the finger foods consisted of popular items such as Chicken 65, Samosas, Chicken Seekh Kababs, Banana Chips, Paneer Tikka & Chettinad style Chilli Chicken.
All in all, it was a memorable two-and-a-half days of camaraderie, community and celebration, at the end of which guests were longing for the next Sammelan!
TV Asia report