BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photos by Vinod Sharma, SFA Productions
Atlanta, GA, February 6, 2020: The office of the Consulate General of India, Atlanta in association with Hindi Natya Group Dhoop Chaoon celebrated the fifth annual Vishwa Hindi Diwas (International Hindi Day) with much patriotic fervor on January 12, 2020 at Ashiana Restaurant in Global Mall.
Vishwa Hindi Divas is celebrated every year on January 10, in commemoration of the anniversary of the first World Hindi Conference held between 10 and 12 January, 1975 in Nagpur.
“Speak in Hindi,” said Consul Asim Kumar in his welcome address, adding that the goal is to establish Hindi as an International language. He was joined by Seema Sharma and Ritambhara Mittal who emceed the event in shuddh Hindi.
“Shubh Sandhya,” said CGI, Atlanta Dr. Swati Kulkarni, highlighting three milestone celebrations of Vishwa Hindi Diwas, the Constitution Day and Vivekananda Day. “I speak in Marathi but fight in Hindi,” quipped Dr. Kulkarni. Citing PM Modi and late Sushma Swaraj who took pride in speaking in Hindi, she said it was essential to build love towards the language.
“Dr. Kulkarni also cited the “Dekho Apna Desh” campaign, a bid by the Modi government to encourage more footfall on domestic tourism destinations, which asks Indians to take pledge to visit at least 15 different tourism locations in India by the year 2022. She also named the “Incredible India” campaign, international tourism campaign maintained by the Indian government since 2002, to promote tourism in India. She highlighted various tourist options including the luxurious Palace on Wheels, wellness and medical tourism, adventure and wildlife tourism, religious and heritage tourism. Initiatives by the Indian government to boost tourism, Dr. Kulkarni elaborated, included extending of e-visa facilities to over 165 countries, enabling issuance of e-medical, business, tourist, conference and medical attendant visas at several Indian ports of entry, and an update of Incredible India campaign with the launch of a new mobile app.
The rich range of cultural presentations included rendition of Vande Mataram, two plays Samvidhan, an abstract from Shyam Benagal`s series of the same name, depicting how the constitution was made and a Nathkaton ke Paathshaala, a comedy where the teacher tries to teach Hindi in English, written and directed by Sandhya Saxena Bhagat, Founder of Dhoop Chhaon, A skit, Pappu, by Asish Chaudhry and Sachin Subhedar, dance and music presentations by Atlanta’s popular dance academies including NNKB, a Fashion Show Naari Sashaktikaran by Hetal Mehta and team, an India tourism promotion “Dekho Apna Desh” by Karthik Bandaru & Radhika Suda in a quiz format, Jokes by Sanjay Jha, and recitations of Hindi poems by Hindi patrons of all ages, including an endearing 4-year-old.
With an intention to promote Hindi language around the world, the first World Hindi day was observed on January 10, 2006. “The Indian diaspora in foreign nations has been instrumental towards the propagation of Hindi throughout the world. Their enthusiasm is palpable when events related to Hindi are organized as people from even non-Hindi speaking States of India actively participate in good numbers,” commented Consul Shailesh Lakhtakia.
Hindi is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world, after Mandarin, Spanish and English. English has borrowed a great number of words from Hindi, such as avatar, bungalow, guru, yoga, to name a few. The word Hindi originated from the Persian word Hind, meaning the land of Indus river. It is derived from Sanskrit and written in Devanagari script.
The night concluded with vote of thanks by Consul Asim Kumar and delightful delicacies.