Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America (MMNA) organized a month long Virtual Utsav 200 from October 11 through 25th, 2020, celebrating the rich cultural traditions of India. MMNA celebrated a virtual Utsal over the 3 weekends, during the festive season of Navratri. These three Sunday evenings consisted of thrilling and entertaining performances.
Over 600 members attended the 2 hour event virtually over Zoom. After the opening remarks by Utsav Sootradhar – Jitendra Muchhal, MMNA President – Vikas Bhutada provided the context of celebrating the Utsav and keeping the community connected, especially more so in these pandemic times.
The celebrations began on October 11th with a melodious Ganesh vandana, the MCs Archana Panda and Prashant Jhanwar started off the evening in their hilarious style and kept the audience totally engaged. Hasya Kavi Dr. Kamlesh Dwivedi, Padmashri Dr. Sunil Jogi and Archana Pandya kept the audience laughing and entertained for almost 1.5 hours.
Jitendra Muchhal facilitated lively interactive discussions with several MMNA members. Many of the members got to see and meet each other virtually after a long time and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The event coordination was very well done by MMNA’s Silicon valley Chapter President, Swapnil Laddha.
On October 18, while celebrating Maha Trivia with Maha Sabha and Ravi Drums’ over 600 members attended the 2.5 hour event virtually over Zoom. Utsav Sootradhar – Abhilasha Rathi welcomed the audience and introduced the Chair for MMNA-RAYS (Rajasthani Abroad Youth Samaj) – Sarika Malani. The RAYS team coordinated the program and engaged the audience in playing an ethnic Rajasthani Trivia in several virtual breakout rooms. It was a unique experience for several members of all age groups. The teams were scored and the winning team was recognized and received the awards. Shivalik Bihani from the RAYS team actively managed over 25 breakout rooms with the help of RAYS volunteers.
Subsequently, Mr. Dhiraj Srivastava, Commissioner of Rajasthan Foundation addressed the gathering virtually from Jaipur. He commended the MMNA team for organizing such an event, especially during these times and engaging the youth. He participated in playing the Trivia as well. Shyamsunder Soni, President of Akhil Bharatvarshiya Maheshwari Mahasabha also sent in his compliments through a video message.
This was followed by a very entertaining program by the famous Hollywood Sensation – Ravi Drums! Ravi’s virtual performance with drums mesmerized the audience and got them off the chairs and in the dancing mode. It was a sensational feeling as 600+ members virtually enjoyed as if they were present in an auditorium. Ravi is son of Shri-Smt Jakhetiaji of Florida, long time MMNA members. Ravi was introduced by MMNA Vice President Ashish Daga.
The session ended after a social chit-chat between the members.
Members expressed a lot of happiness with the proceedings of these virtual sessions:
“We neither had to prepare any clothes, nor pack any bags, nor get on the plane to the place of a convention but still we had a similar experience / feeling of a real convention”, by participating right from our own homes. “We could meet several of our friends and relatives virtually, just in the last 2 hours”.
On October 25, during Vijaya Dashami Celebration with Ek Shaam Aapke Naam,’ which was attended by approx. 1,000 members and lasted for 4.5 hours in the virtual mode. This was a record-breaking event for MMNA in terms of the attendance and the duration. The event started with a welcome by the ‘Sootradhar’ Jitendra Mucchal. Vikas Bhutada, MMNA President wished Happy Dussehra to all the members and explained how this unique evening was reminiscent of his childhood days of greeting the close family & friends and witnessing ‘Ravan Dahan’. He also recapped the happenings of the prior two events and assured the audience of thrilling performances in store for the audience. He thanked the MMNA-Sakhi team Chair & Co-Chair Vandana Daga & Yogita Sarada for putting in their best to bring such an entertaining evening for the members.
The evening was superbly coordinated by MCs Neha Rathi and Yogita Miharia. It started with performances of MMNA community members from all the 9 chapters across the US & Canada. The theme of the evening was ‘emotions & feelings’. The individual / group performances included classical & bollywood dances, singing and skits by members of all the age groups. The audience members were encouraged to dress in their best ethnic attire and a panel of judges evaluated and chose the best dressed attendees and several prizes were given away in different categories.
MMNA team presented an eye-catching audio-visual titled ‘Golden Snippets 2016-2020’
(MMNA – Golden Snippets (2016-2020) covering a synopsis of multitude of their activities and significant projects undertaken by different teams during their term of these 4 years. A video message sent by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, complementing the community on their efforts to connect and contribute during these difficult times, was also played for the audience. Several MMNA members of the Board Of Trustees, National Executive Committee and Utsav volunteers were recognized during the event. Dr. Ghanshyam Heda, BOT Chair was recognized for receiving multiple awards / scholarships including the prestigious Fulbright award for Education.
This was followed by a thrilling, mesmerizing and power-packed virtual live performance by the famous ‘Dhwani’ Trio from Kolkata, India. The audience of all ages was totally engaged in singing along & dancing with the stars of Dhwani. It was a memorable evening to watch – with so many smiles, amazing colorful ethnic Rajasthani costumes and a beautiful family environment. The audience was ecstatic with joy and celebration.This was followed by a Live ‘Raavan – Dahan’ from California from home of Prashant Maloo – who made the 10 Headed Ravan Effigy with sword – which was then confined to flames by Shri Ram. Contributions of Poonam Bhutada, Amit Somani, Shruti Soni, Surekha Soni, Anurag Soni were also exemplary in the entire Utsav series. The whole Utsav programs came to life due to superb use of technology and interactivity.
MMNA was founded in 1983 with the purpose of preserving its rich Rajasthani Maheshwari culture and heritage, while the community continued to grow in America. It is easy to lose track of the culture, traditions and values, especially for the younger generation, if these are not preserved, enhanced and made relevant to the modern times, particularly for diaspora. MMNA helps bridge that gap and also promotes togetherness and social welfare through its platform of 4,000 individual members in 10 chapters. MMNA also helps the community to come together and make a difference in the local communities through multiple philanthropic activities.
According to organizers, MMNA focuses on 7 major initiatives:
- RAYS (Rajasthani Abroad Youth Samaj)
- RASS (Rajastahni Abroad Senior Samaj)
- Sakhi (for women empowerment)
- Education (Provide financial assistance and mentoring to students)
- BET (Business & Entrepreneurship Track)
- Philanthropy (Provide assistance & support to the needy during crisis)
MMNA Utsav 2020 – Video Highlights are available at: