REPORT & PHOTOS BY MAHADEV DESAI
Atlanta, GA, December 8, 2017: The Senior Citizen Program (SCP) got in the swing to celebrate their annual Diwali program with great joy and enthusiasm at the Garden Plaza, Norcross, Georgia on Sunday, November 5. The Banquet hall was packed with senior energy and electricity in the company of Atlanta’s well known, versatile, proficient musicians Dr. Asmita Joshi, Sunny Sachdeva, Mahesh Patel, Darshan Kaur, Urmila Mota et al.
Volunteers Arunaben Patel, Shashi Sidhaye, Isha Goyal and Dolly Verma elegantly decorated the stage with fresh flowers, gifts, diyas and hospitality in the spirit of Diwali. Executive Director Raj Razdan recognized and thanked the members for their loyalty and especially acknowledged the sponsors Vikas and Dolly Verma, lauding them for their unflinching financial support every year since the inception of SCP in the mid nineties; thus helping directly with its phenomenal growth. She added, “The rituals and traditions help reinforce cultural ties, sharing and family values as the annual celebration of Diwali provided direct connection with our community here and as well in India.”
She thanked Anupam Goyal Puri for catering delicious snacks/lunch and Rajbhog Sweets for providing Diwali sweets.
A brief invocation of Goddess Lakshmi by the Seniors Bhagwanji and Ramaben Chudasama and Sponsors Vikas and Dolly Verma set the stage for show time!
The gathering was treated to glittering gems (Bollywood hits of yesteryears) down the memory lane, interspersed with a Diya dance, jokes, poems and even a traditional ‘engagement song’ by the local team of talented singers in their inimitable voices.
Asmita Joshi got the ball rolling singing the romantic, classical song ‘Ankhiyon ke jharokonse’ and followed it up with the film Madhumati’s popular ‘Aaja re Pardesi’ song in her mellifluous voice. Later she sang ‘Baiyan na dharo o balma’ and a song expressing awakenings of first love ‘Pyar hua chupke se’ from 1942: A Love Story. Dancers were not going to be left behind! So, Pallavi Patel who is a talented dancer and her team of Niru Masse, Kundan Patel, Sucheta Mehta and Lilaben Verma enthralled the audience with a captivating diya dance choreographed by Pallaviben. Mahesh Patel captivated the audience with Mukesh gems, ‘Kisiki muskarahoton pe ho nisar’ and ‘Janam dekh lo mit gayi’. Atlanta’s multi-talented stage artist and zesty singer Sunny Sachdeva refreshed and quizzed the elders with interesting anecdotes about the composers, lyricists and musicians and also the rendering ‘Mana janab ne pukara nahi’ with Dev Anand theatrics!
Darshan Kaur, well known for supporting many deserving causes through her versatile performing arts aptitude, sang two lively numbers, ‘Saiyan dil mein aana re’ and ‘Aye dil mujhe bata de’ to accelerate the tempo for the afternoon.
The audience sat in rapt attention listening to a medley of melodious songs sung by the gifted singers. Each song elicited wide applause. It was now Urmila Mota’s turn to sing a lilting song ‘Gore gore O banke chhore’ from the 1950 movie Samadhi by Lata Mangeshkar.Then it was time for the duets: Mahesh and Asmita sang the ever popular, lyrical ‘Kabhi kabhi mere dil’. Mahesh and Darshan Kaur sang ‘Pehla nasha, pehla khumar’. Sunny and Mahesh rendered ‘Suhani raat dhal chuki’. Darshan and Sunny were in their element when they sang ‘jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji’. It was amusing to see both emoting so well. The seniors were enjoying it all. The seniors including Ujjagar Singh Wassan and Janu Wassan, sponsors Vikas and Dolly Verma could not hold themselves back from getting onto the dance floor with their own lively swings! Sunny regaled the gathering by singing ‘Mujhe duniya walo sharabi na samjho’. Lo and behold! senior Rajnikant Parikh added to the humor of the song by getting on the floor pretending to be a drunkard!
The singers gave their hearts out to entertain the audience with a plethora of Bollywood chartbusters.
Preeti Tanwar, Exec. provided a brief overview of Ekal Vidyalaya Organization and its Atlanta Chapter.
Raj Razdan thanked all the singers who were then presented with flower bouquets in appreciation of their contributions to the Diwali celebrations. She also thanked Ujjagar Singh and Janu Singh for being emcees for the program, Mahendra Shah, and all the volunteers for their active involvement.
Some humor followed as longtime sponsor Vikas Verma quipped that his age too had now made him eligible member of the SCP. “It has been our privilege to be associated with the Senior Citizen Program from its inception,” he said. “The smiles we see, the laughter we hear and the love we feel at Senior Citizens monthly gatherings makes us proud that we were fortunate & blessed to be able to play a minor role in this major production. Dolly and I are forever indebted to Raj Razdan and countless volunteers who have transformed the dream to a bubbling reality.”
The Senior Citizen Program (SCP), now in existence for more than two decades with the dedication of its team of volunteer and sponsors, aims to empower seniors. It provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge, camaraderie and fraternity free to the seniors. The monthly events include picnics, movie shows, celebrations of Valentine Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, India’s Independence Day, religious events like Mata ki Chowki, etc., etc. SCP’s devotion and service to the community is highly commendable and indeed appreciated.