2004 Ugadi Celebrations: A Report

North American Sankethi Association celebrates Ugadi on Sunday, March 28, 2004 in Stroudsburg, PA

By Dr. M.S. Nataraja

North American Sankethi Association (popularly knows as NASA) is an ethnic organization serving the Sankethis of North America for the past two decades. As an inaugural function for the 20th anniversary, NASA planned a regional get-together to observe the lunar new year at the Sringeri Saadhana Center, Stroudsburg, PA, on Sunday, March 28, 2004. The program started with Ganapathi Homa, and a Saamoohika Sathyanarayana Pooja, both under the guidance of Sri Venugopal Devadhar, the residing priest at the Sringeri Saadhana Center. Early in the morning holy ‘rudram’ was chanted in chorus while abhishekam was performed to the lord. One hundred and eight modakas were offered as holy sacrifice as a part of the ritual for the Ganapathi Homa which generated supreme vibrations in the entire premises of the Saadhana Center. By the time Satynarayana was invoked, several devotees had joined the crowd of participants. After a sumptuous meal prepared by the volunteers, a cultural program was also presented. Sri Ramchandra Shastry and his wife Srimathi Radhika Shastry presented “Bhaarata vaachana.” Bharata vaachana is a specialized talent for which Sankethis are well known in Karnataka. During a typical Bhaarata vaachana program, one person reads (sings) selected verses from famous epics such as the Mahabhaarata using classical Karnatic tunes while the other provides “vyaakhyaana” (colorful story telling with detailed explanation of the context). The episode selected for this program was that of the entry of the young hero Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna. In the absence of Arjuna who is kept busy elsewhere on the battle field, all the Pandava heroes are beaten badly by the General Drona. No one knows how to break the “Padmavyuha” formation created by General Dronacharya who had vowed to create havoc in Panadava’s army. That is when young Abhimanyu enters the formation and destroys the enemy forces only to succumb to the combined force of all Kourava warriors. Abhmanyu’s story is one of courage and martyrdom. The young artists-couple did a great job of narrating the episode. The entire Ugadi program was organized by the two past presidents of NASA (Prof. Dathatri and Sri. Balakrishna) and attended by five of the eight past presidents and the current president and several other families.

This program was a prelude to the upcoming grand 20th anniversary celebrations during the Independence Day weekend (July 1 – 5, 2004) at the New Windsor Conference Center in Maryland. Two grand music concerts by visiting artists from India (Sangeeta Kalanidhi Sri R.K.Srikantan supported by his son, Rudrapatnam Ramakanth on July 4th and Srimathi Vasanthamadhavi on July 2. Both concerts will have Srimathi Sandhya Srinath on her Violin and Srinath Bala on the Mrudangam as accompanists.) In addition, there will be dance, drama, sports, group pooja and vedic chanting, panel discussions and cards game (twenty eight, another Sankethi specialty) tournament. Visit www.sankethi.org for the details of upcoming events.


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