Looking Back MAIYTRA Conventions
MAIYTRA Convention 2010: Washington DC -July 2-5
MAIYTRA Convention 2008: San Francisco -July 4-6
MAIYTRA Convention 2006: Chicago July 4-6-(click here to view pictures)
MAIYTRA Convention 2004: Los Angeles - July 4-6
MAIYTRA Convention 2002: Detroit
MAIYTRA Convention 2000: New York
MAIYTRA 2000 (M2K) youth convention was held at the Marriott at the World Trade Center, New York City from Saturday July 1st through Monday July 3rd. It was so incredible to see this weekend finally take place after so many months of hard work from our core committee and volunteers. Over 600 Marathi youth from ages 18 to 35+ came from all over the world to spend the weekend in New York City meeting each other, discussing pertinent issues for young Marathis in the world today, and having fun! We had attendees from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia and Germany. Over the weekend, the convention registrants had opportunities to take part in many events:
A few blocks East of the Times Square stands the proud building of the United Nations, and a few blocks South East of the Times Square stands another Landmark, the Empire State Building. From its glass enclosed Observation deck, you get a beautiful panoramic view of the entire metropolitan area by daylight and mesmerizing array of stars and endless city lights by night.
For some of you reading buffs, go to the world famous NY public Library building with its amazing architecture on the fifth avenue. This library boasts to have the rarest books and treasures. (This is the library where I came across rare references about the origin of the seven notes of Indian music. Go figure!)
Go south to the SOHO district and you will see the latest fashions in clothes, jewelry and make up. Just around the corner from the SOHO is the Greenwich village, an area for the "artsy " folks! Situated at the southern tip of the island is the historic Battery park, that offers a view of the Statue of Liberty. Two modes of transportation are offered to go to the Statue, by sea and by helicopter. The Wall street with its NYSE, the ' maker or the breaker' of the world economy, is also in the southern most part of Manhattan. The site of the old WTC twin towers or "Ground Zero " as it is now called, is at a walking distance from the Wall street.
Start heading North and you come across the Rockefeller Center and the Radio City Hall, two of the most spectacular sight seeing places in Manhattan. Proceed further to the North, and. there come the world famous Central Park, the Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum. Theatres to enjoy Broadway shows are sprinkled all over the town, most of them situated in the Theatre District. Be it a Musical or a Drama, watching a Broadway show is an experience in itself.
On Saturday July 1st we welcomed our attendees to the city that never sleeps in our Opening Ceremonies. We started with a Ganesh prayer. We also performed our"M2K" skit, portraying an early 1970's Marathi immigrant, Kumar, who had come to the U.S. about two years earlier. Kumar was anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bride, Minakshi, who was coming through customs with all of the things Kumar had been missing from India. Minakshi flew from Mumbai to Kennedy (M2K). Minakshi, played by Madhura Kagade, came to meet her beloved Kumar (M2K), played by Abhijit Sheth. And the skit at the M2K convention was a big hit! We also had Opening remarks from MAIYTRA committee President Hemangi Joshi and BMM President Shaila Vidwans. We met the core committee that planned the MAIYTRA convention: Hemangi Joshi, President; Anjali Vaze, Vice President; Rajiv Kulkarni, Treasurer; Abhijit Sheth, Registration Officer; Amod Vaze, Secretary; Deepa Bilolikar, Fundraising/PR Officer. We also saw a video presentation of the committee bringing sights of New York to the audience. Then we enjoyed a skit called the "Mating Game" where we had Meena Mavashi, played by Madhavi Dalvi, as the mother choosing from three eligible bachelors for the suitable boy to marry her daughter Lata, who was seated in the audience. Lata was played by Sanjeevanee Joshi. Meena Mavashi had to choose between the following three candidates: Gajanan Shantaram Barve, a Computer Engineer who came from India recently and feels that a wife should already be rich, sit at home, cook and be pregnant (played by Sandeep Tamhankar). Ramdas Ramakrishna Kulkarni, an "Electrical Engineer" turned "Businessman" who actually sells stolen items like stereos, TV's, other electrical equipment on the street (played by Rajiv Kulkarni). And Milind Apte, a Professor, clean cut, good looking, and is actually the choice that everyone in the audience and Lata want (played by Shailesh Vaikul). Who actually was chosen? Well, you'll have to ask one of the attendees for that answer! We ended off the Opening Ceremonies by breaking into groups and having Ice Breaker Sessions led by over 25 volunteers. Each group was divided up into different groups by different names of Marathi fruits and each group leader led activities for each group to get to know each other. We found out that Ice-Breakers can be a contact sport!
Later Saturday evening we took a walk down to Battery Park and boarded a Ferry that would take the whole group to historic Ellis Island, where MAIYTRA rented the entire island just for MAIYTRA 2000 convention attendees! Sanjeevanee Joshi and Nina Sathe helped put together this one-of-a-kind event. The ferry first sailed past countless Tall Ships and Navy ships sailing into the harbor for the NYC Operation Sail 2000 and sailed right next to Liberty Island to get a breathtaking view of the Statue of Liberty. Once on the island, we had full access to the Immigration Museum. We had full access to the Food Court for all the food we could eat. We had music pumping by DJ Suhel outside on the grass in the arena. We danced the night away next to the Wall of Honor with an extraordinary view of New York City, and enjoyed a perfect New York City sunset.
And that was just the first day!!!
Sunday morning we served a continental breakfast in the sunny second floor lobby. We had a yoga session led by Professional Pranati Pratap. She helped attendees stretch out those achy limbs and minds! We also had a Sneha Banda session for those with meeting lifelong partners on their mind first thing in the morning.
Sunday was also filled with discussion sessions for registrants to attend: Dr. Vilas Nene led a discussion on The Logic of Hindu Thought. Hindu Thought does not differentiate between philosophical and scientific inquiries. It maintains that both should be based on logic, and any conclusions drawn by either of these inquiries must be consistent and in agreement with everyday experiences. This seminar took a much different approach from what's been seen before. Amod Vaze and Monica Pundalik led a discussion on some of the realities of College Life. This heart to heart discussion explored some of the realities of struggling with your parents' impression of college and finding your Marathi/Indian identity. We also touched on some issues that are not brought out into the open enough such as dealing with learning disabilities and facing life and death situations. We had Kaustub Lele talk about some of the philosophical teachings of Hinduism through his studies of the Gita. We learnt that performing rituals does not make you Hindu unless you know why you are doing them. Sunil Bhide and Anjali Vaze made a presentation on Maharashtrian History. Shivaji, played by Sunil, went to a headhunter looking for a job. What exactly were his qualifications? We began to understand that Maharashtra didn't begin or end with just Shivaji. There was much more to the story! Suneeta Vaze was there to help with follow up questions. Suneeta Pandit and her brother Rajiv Kulkarni presented a Cooking seminar and packed the house! It was nice to know there were so many young MEN looking for cooking tips as well. Now we know what is the key to most good dishes… Phodni!!
Also on Sunday, Hemangi Joshi and Rajiv Kulkarni organized a session on Really Nontraditional Careers. During the first half of the session we had the opportunity to meet Sapna Padte and Anita Datar. Each spent two years in West Africa with the Peace Corps. We got just a short glimpse of what some of Sapna and Anita's experiences were before, during, and after their journeys abroad. We then met members of the cast of the upcoming full-length feature film ABCD (or American Born Confused Desi). There to tell us about the making and intent of the film were the star and producer Deep Katdare, leading lady Purva Bedi, actor Rizwan Manji, writer and director Piyush Pandya, and producer and unit publicist Gitesh Pandya. We got to see a ten minute trailer for ABCD then ask the cast how they came to chasing their dreams of film making. After the sessions on Sunday, we came back in the evening dressed in our best for a semi-formal cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres prepared by the world famous Moghul Restaurant. After cocktails we moved into the elegantly decorated Grand Ballroom for a scrumptious Indian meal by Moghul. Dipti Sheth helped organize the event. At the banquet dinner we met keynote speaker Sandeep Tungare, Chairman and CEO of Vistaar, Inc, father of two, and founder of the Maharashtra Foundation Tungare Venture Fund. If you are strong in the tech field and looking to change jobs Sandeep Tungare may be looking for you! Thanks to Nina Sathe for her efforts in finding our keynote speaker. We also presented our first set of Arati Sharangpani memorial awards at our Banquet Dinner Sunday night. Arati was a leader in the Maharashtrian community, Indian-American Students Association at University of Michigan, and a member and volunteer of MAIYTRA. Her endless devotion to helping others coupled with her commitment to aiding the community as a whole had prompted us to help set up and distribute these awards in her memory. We asked participants to write a short essay describing "What would be effective ways to bring the Maharashtrian community together and how could they implement them with the help of this award." Deepa Bilolikar presented the first place award to Sanjeevanee Joshi and the second place award to Pradnya Parulekar for their essays.
Later Sunday night we hosted a club party at ARIA night club where we danced (and sweated) to the music of DJ Suhel until late in the night. Monday morning we enjoyed breakfast in the second floor lobby. Professional yoga instructor Neema Goregaokar led our yoga session that morning. Our Sneha Banda session for Monday was held during our lunch break. Vikas Bankar helped arrange the Sneha Banda activities. We rounded out Monday morning with our "Indian Explosion" presentation. We presented video clips of Indian influence on mainstream music, advertisements, fashion, web-sites, and movies. We included clips of Miss India as Miss Universe, Indian images in music videos of Michael Jackson, Shania Twain, and Gwen Stefani, Indian themes on Seinfeld, the Simpsons, and Xena just to name a few. We talked about the impact they have made on the image of Indians in the world. We also talked about how we feel about these representations and how we represent the Marathis and Indians of the future. Then, last but not least, we held our Closing Ceremony, featuring an AMAZING talent show put on by MAIYTRA convention attendees. Talent acts included: - Meghana Bhat played classical sitar - Rajiv Kulkarni and Anjali Vaze in "Who wants to be a Maharashtrian?" Featuring Parvati Pundalik and of course Rajus Philbin. Parvati tried to answer questions, with the help of her lifelines including audience polls, nimma/nimma, and answer elimination, in hopes to earn her right to become a Maharashtrian. - Prasad Gokhale sang "Bhole Si Surat" from the movie "Dil to Pagal Hai" - Radha Vichare danced to "Satarange re" from "Dil Se" - Abhijit Sheth sang "Rang barse" from "Silsila" - Deepa Bilolikar presented her "Biloliquoy," actually entitled "I am Indian." This was a new take on the popular Molson Canadian commercial which features a Canadian guy named Joe dashing stereotypes given by Americans. In her version, Deepa also downplayed Indian stereotypes given by Americans while including a hint of nationalism. - Nikhil Tumne and Meghana Bhat with an impromptu performance- Meghana on her Sitar and Nikhil with- himself and a mic! - Parijat Deshpande, Aarti Kulkarni, Neha Marathe, Ajit Jani, Nikhil Desai, and Vishal Nayak danced to "Chaiyya Chaiyya" from "Dil Se" - Amol Dixit performed a standup comedy act - Amit Kshirsagar performed a translation of the Beatles song "Across the Universe" - Meena Maddiwar, Shamika Parab, and Sonal Inamdar performed a lavani dance to "Bugadi Maji" choreographed by Shobha Kashelkar
All of our talented participants did a GREAT job! And Asavari Joshi and Abhijit Sheth did a great job organizing the show! We also had some additional intermediate skits performed by committee members and volunteers like our "Kassa Kai" and "Garam Chai" skits that were new takes on the "Wassup" and "Wasabi" commercials- another big hit! We also acted out a New York Mugging- which looks very different in slow motion than it does at normal speed! A great time was had by all!
We ended off the weekend with a short goodbye from the core committee and a video tribute to the many volunteers that helped put it all together. Special thanks to Sandeep Tamhankar and Abhijit Sheth who worked many hours on maintaining our MAIYTRA web-site including our on-line registration process. They did a great job with the site!
During the weekend we also had booths set up to raise awareness of some very worthy non-profit organizations including CRY, the Maharashtra Foundation, the Marathi Youth Mentoring Program, and ASHA. We held a bone marrow drive to take blood samples in hope of finding possible donors for patients in dire need of bone marrow transplants.
Proceeds from the MAIYTRA 2000 convention in New York City were donated through the Maharashtra Foundation to sponsor the education of individual needy children in India over several year periods.
Aside from all of the events we took part in, we are glad that we got the chance to meet so many great people from so many places around the world. For those that attended, thanks for being part of the biggest Marathi youth convention yet! We are sorry if you had to miss the MAIYTRA 2000 convention in New York City… we are very anxious to see the next host city step up to the plate to host MAIYTRA 2002!!!
Hemangi Joshi, MAIYTRA 2000 President & Entire Core Committee Hemangi.Joshi@verizon.net
MAIYTRA 1998 CONVENTION: San Francisco July 2-5
After several months of waiting and anticipation, "BMM by the Bay", the 3rd biennial international BMM MAIYTRA convention, took place in San Francisco from July 2 - 5, 1998. With representation from 4 countries and nearly 600 young Maharashtrians in attendance, it was the biggest MAIYTRA conference ever. Pre-convention activities kicked off on Thursday, when almost two-thirds of the attendees had already arrived. From 8:00pm to 1:00am, everyone gathered at Gordon Biersch microbrewery/restaurant to see old friends and make new friends. Gordon Biersch's scenic location underneath the Bay Bridge, as well as its festive environment, made it an ideal location to get a head-start on the social interaction.
On Friday, registration took place from 10:00AM - 5:00PM in the Grand Foyer of the Hyatt Regency. Registrants were each given a souvenir convention booklet and a "BMM by the Bay" T-shirt, as well as name badge and cruise/banquet tickets. At 3:30PM, opening ceremonies began in the Grand Ballroom. Everyone was asked to remove shoes before entering, as we attempted to create the feeling of a sacred environment inside. Once inside, everyone was separated into groups of 20 (in which they would have the chance to intermix during the mixer to follow). The unique ceremony involved 4 different events in Maharashtrian history/culture/religion. In corner 1, there was a "play by play" description and demonstration on the dressing of the Nau-wari sari. In corner 2, a wedding ceremony was presented. Corner 3 answered some questions on the history of Maharashtra, as well as the story of the birth of Ganesh. Finally, in corner 4, the famous "sukha karta dukha harta" was sung, followed by a Ganapati procession. Our goal was to not only make opening ceremonies fun and interesting, but also to make them into an informative experience.
After the opening ceremonies, we boarded a 1000-person yacht at 7:30pm, which took everyone on a 3-hour Bay Bridge/Golden Gate Bridge tour. As they took in the breathless sights surrounding San Francisco, everyone enjoyed the buffet dinner which was being served. Many took advantage of the live DJ on board, as they danced the night away as the sun set over the bay.
Saturday's activities began bright and early, with breakfast served for the early risers from 8:00AM - 10:00AM. For those who needed an additional jump-start to their day, a yoga session was held from 9:00AM - 10:00AM. There was an all-day "Maharashtrian Women in history" exhibit in the Grand Foyer, giving attendees a glimpse of the talent possessed by previous generations. From 10:30AM - 3:30PM, attendees enjoyed a Relationships forum, a Career Diversity Forum, and a Religion/Customs forum. This led us to the main event of the day at 4:00PM, the long-awaited cultural program. For 2 1/2 hours, the crowd cheered at the skilled performances and laughed at the comedy presented in between. The uniqueness of the show was a result of the "Samadhan Cafe" theme. In between acts, the scene would shift to the cafe, where Marathi youths would gather to discuss various humorous topics, including an "Ajoba/granddaughter" meeting, a "Marathi girl from India/Marathi girl from the US" encounter, and 2 Marathi couples discussing Western/Eastern parenting techniques for their children. The show itself began with a group singing Nandi, followed by a number of mostly Marathi dances, songs, and tabla/harmonium presentations, and ended with a Dindi procession which was accompanied by Lejhim and the chanting of "Gyanba Tukaram". The show was truly a fantastic display of the knowledge and respect our younger generation has for our Marathi culture.
At 8:00PM that same evening, our formal banquet began in the Grand Ballroom. As the Hyatt staff served everyone their appetizers, main courses, and desserts, a handful of notable speakers addressed the crowd. The Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, welcomed MAIYTRA to the city and encouraged us to continue such gatherings in the future. Moreshwar Purandare, BMM President, spoke of past and present MAIYTRA conventions and urged attendees to voice their opinions regarding the future of our community. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Deepa Chitre, who herself is an entrepreneur and is taking her own company public soon, gave the crowd an inspirational and motivational speech to cap an eventful and exciting day.
Sunday began just like Saturday, with breakfast and yoga. The final forum from 10:30AM - 12:30PM was a discussion of what is the real purpose of the MAIYTRA group and where we will be 10 years from now. It gave everyone a chance to voice their opinions on how to further tailor future conventions to meet the needs, desires, and expectations of the attendees. From 12:30PM - 1:00PM, we held closing ceremonies, which was an overview of the just-completed forum as well as the convention itself, and concluded what many are referring to as one of the most informative, enjoyable, and successful MAIYTRA conventions for our young group.
During my opening, banquet, and closing speeches, I stressed the need for attendees to 1) break out of existing "cliques" and make friends with new people they didn't already know, 2) be receptive to others when they want to meet you, 3) give me feedback throughout the convention so that the committee could add additional activities, as needed, and 4) keep "one eye open" for that special someone and meet him or her here and now, since the convention only comes around once every 2 years. Perhaps my statements were a bit forward, but I truly believe that most of the attendees could relate to what was said. In fact, the level of meeting, mingling, and socializing at this convention, in the opinion of many, was remarkably high, and this only makes the bond in our community stronger as we head into the 21st century. Thank you to my core committee, thank you to all the volunteers, thank you to everyone for granting me the honor of being your President, and thank you to everyone again for attending our memorable convention and shaping MAIYTRA into what it is today!
President, BMM MAIYTRA San Francisco 1998
MAIYTRA 1998 San Francisco Convention Committee:
- Vikas Bankar - President
- Yogesh Rane - Vice President
- Swati Fanse - Secretary
- Anu Chitgopekar - Treasurer
- Ashish Fanse - Events Director
MAIYTRA 1996 Convention: Toronto, Canada
MAIYTRA 1994 Convention: Cincinnati