BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photos by Kiran Mudigonda for Bytegraph
Atlanta, July 2012: The 12 the American Telugu Association (ATA) Convention and Youth Conference kicked into high gear at the Georgia World Congress Convention Center (GWCC) in Atlanta from July 6 – 8 2012. With the theme “Passion for our culture, compassion for our people”, the conference offered variety of programs in various arenas including social, spiritual, cultural, literary, art, entertainment, business and medicine. The chief guest of the event was M M. Pallam Raju, Union Minister of State for Defense. Noted leaders such as DK Aruna, State Minister of Information, Sridhar Babu, Minister of Education, and MPs, Mohammed Azaruddin and Madhu Yashki were also part of the grand fare. Several prominent personalities at the convention included Laskhmi Parvati, Suddala Ashok Teja, Ileana, Thaman, Dil Raju, Garikipati Narasimha Rao, Goreti Venkanna and Ravi Prakash, of TV9.
With an overwhelming response of over 6500 guests, the organizers say that the sold out event even had to turn down guests who had not purchased tickets earlier on day two of the conference. Later preparations were said to be made to accommodate more people with separate pricing for a single day entry.
The Banquet Dinner on Friday included reception and social hour for guests of the convention. DK Aruna lighted the traditional lamp and declared the opening of Inaugural banquet dinner. Awards ceremony followed the welcome speech and executive team introduction by Dr. Mangaraju Vanapalli. Some of award winners included Vempati China Satyam for ATA life time achievement award for performing arts, Dr. Rao S. Rapaka for bio medical research, ATA distinguished award winners from Atlanta included Dr. Sivananda Nyayapati, Dr. P. Ravi Sarma, Narender G. Reddy and Ravi Ponangi. The night ended with dinner and music.
"It feels great to be amongst my countrymen and I am proud of how well they have done for themselves here." Mohammed Azharuddin, the former Indian Cricket Captain, said when asked about how it felt to be at the convention.
Day two festivities kicked off with the Invocation and lighting of the lamp, followed by Vande Maataram and national anthems. After the Proclamation by Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed and Swagatham song, ATA messages by TAMA, GATA, ATA Convener Karunakar Asireddy, Youth Forum Chair Prashanth Paripati, ATA President Dr. Rajender Jinna, ATA Board, Standing committee Chairs and regional coordinators and spiritual message by Swami Chidatmananda followed. Chief Guest, Union Minister of State Pallam Raju addressed the gathering after an inaugural theme dance in praise of Telugu Heritage and release of the Inaugural CD. He talked about the prevailing situation in India and Andhra Pradesh. Speaking about the economic condition, he expressed hope that India will lead in 2014-15 and said he was working hard with Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh to take the nation forward. Speaking about the role of the community, he expressed his pleasure about the relation between India and US and the role community has played in strengthening these relations. CEO of Channel TV 9 Ravi Prakash and Key Note speaker, in his address talked about corruption and the need for political parties and leaders to change the mindset. He also urged to pay attention to the fluoride issue in AP and the need to eradicate caste system.
Various Cultural programs “Sunanda Vinodini I”, including classical, semi-classical, folk dances, music, skits and plays were lined up to enthrall and entertain the audience. Prime Time entertainment emceed by Shilpa Chakroborthy included Kuchipudi dance with youth Committee Introduction, Musical performace, Fashion Show by Silk Threads Boutique, Fusion dance, “Haunted Love”, a romantic thriller, Tollywood Dhamaka, “Telugu Pandugalu”, ATA Honors ad recognitions for Conference donors and other recognitions, Life Time Acheivement award to Padmabhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, Kuchpudi offering “Nrityanjali”, Comedy skit “Americallo Manoorollu”, Gaeya Ruupa Kavitvam by Gorati Venkanna and Comedy show by tollywood actors.
Sunday started off with the Invocation and semi classical melodies by Dr. Jayaprada Ramamurthy and Ashtavashanam by garikipati Narasimha Rao. “Sunanda Vinodini II”, continued to dazzle the audience with the Finals of Jhummandi Naadam and ATA 2012 Solo Dance Talent. Winners of various contests, “I want to be American President”, “Jhummandi Naadam”, Sayyandi Paadam and Star dancer were announced. Prime Time entertainment emceed by Jitendranath included Dazzling Dhamaka by Detroit Sizzlers, Dance performance by winner of ATA 2012 Solo dance talent search, Namasthe India by Dr. Padmaja Reddy and group, Honoring Nritya Choodamani Padmasree Dr. Sobha Naidu and kuchipudi performance by her students, mimicry by Jitendranath, ATA honors and recognitions for Outstanding Philanthropist Award to Dr. Hanmi Reddy Lakkireddy, Ravi Prakash of TV9 and convention committees “ATA Raffle Draw”. The night ended on a high note with “Taaralu Digvacchina Vela”, a musical performance by Thaman and party.
Various other forums had interesting programs such as Lake Lanier Cruise, Singles Mingle, Meet and Greet Tollywood star etc., for the youth, Alumni meet ups for about 13 universities, Carrom, Chess, Jodinchu tournaments for sports, Medical issues in Asian Indians etc., at the CME Medical and Geriatric health etc., at health forum, topics such as Medical Tourism, Real estate opportunities, Emerging trends, Investment and careers in film making, to name a few at the business forum, a general forum including “Encounter with Ravi Prakash TV 9”, “Shubayogam, Graha shastram etc., Women’s forum, US and Indian Tax laws, Investment opportunities for NRIs in India at the NRI Forum, Jan Lokpal Bill, Burglaries/home invasions in USA etc., Panel discussions, Literary programs, Senior Citizens programs, Focus on Breathing, Essence of Vedas, Art of Living, Meditation etc., at the Spiritual Forum, Fraud investigation of IT company owners and employees at Immigration forum and political debate by Indian politicians by Rajanikanth from TV9 and Venkata Krishna from TV 5 engaged, educated and entertained the audience at the conference.
American Telugu Association (ATA) was established as not for profit organization in 1990. ATA’s main objective is to assist and promote literature, cultural, educational, religious, social, economic, health and community activities of the people of Telugu origin as well as to promote exchange programs for students, scientists, and professionals of Telugu origin between the United States of America, Canada, India and other countries.