BY MAHADEV DESAI
Atlanta, GA: The Sai Adult Day Care Center Hall at the Global Mall, Norcross was packed with Atlanta’s Gujarati community members, and graced by the presence of leading dignitaries who had gathered to listen to multi-talented and multi-faceted inspirational speaker Kaajal Oza Vaidya from Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
The talk-show was arranged by Mustafa Ajmeri and Chirag Thakker, with the team of Dipa Shah, Sanjay Pandya and Nimesh Sevak.
Emcee Dipa Shah introduced Kaajal as an award-winning renowned and prolific author of 56 books, a newspaper columnist, a gifted orator, screenwriter, radio show host, who also serves as a visiting faculty for creative writing atGujaratUniversity. She is known for her radical thinking and fearless, truthful reporting and is a role-model for the young generation. She is well-versed in Gujarati, Hindi and English.
In her wide-ranging and informative talk, Kaajal Oza Vaidya shared insightful nuggets from the Mahabharata, the Bhagavada Gita; and the Ramayana; briefly touching upon roles ofKrishna, Arjun, Draupadi, Karna etc. in crucial episodes narrated in these epics. She also talked about instilling good values, marital relationships, parenting, the impact of addiction to social media on inter-personal relationships, etc. The enthusiastic and attentive audience listened raptly, occasionally breaking into laughter and clapping when she mentioned a lighthearted quip or anecdote. She advised all to practice Sanatan Dharma. She said that young generation is confused about religion and Hinduism because of misinformation and misguidance. “Religion is not rituals. Performing rituals without understanding the ‘how’ and ‘why’ is meaningless.” She talked about karma and said that good karmas will reap good rewards sooner or later. She recommended reading Gita because it is a like a manual for life’s management skills. “When you pray, trust in God. When you get on a plane, do you ask the pilot to show his license? No, because you trust him.”
Kaajal advised the attendees to control their acquisitive and possessive spirits. “Usually once a year we tend to do spring-cleaning. At that time, instead of trashing some of the worthless possessions, we cling to them under the pretext of ‘sentimental value’. This is repeated till one day, a young person in the family takes charge and dumps it all. Just as a climber sheds weighty baggage in order to survive while climbing up, as we advance in age, we too should get rid of bad memories and negative thoughts in our mind for our wellbeing. “
She spoke about the sanctity of marriage. The three important Sanskars (Sacraments) are Janma, Dwij and Lagna sanskar. “There has to be mutual love, respect, loyalty, trust and tolerance between husband and wife. Being argumentative, blaming each other over trifling matters, shouting loud, not communicating with eachother,etc.can have adverse effects on marital happiness. Control your ego, your pride, and your temper. If you lose your temper and vent your anger on someone, after cooling down, go and apologize and beg for forgiveness. Try to control your emotions and live a balanced life.”
“To ensure a happy marriage, try and compliment your life partners as frequently as you can. Some husbands seldom compliment their wives but are quick to compliment other ladies on their looks, dress, cooking etc. It is like saving your best crockery for guests only.”
She shared her thoughts on parents/children bonding. “Overprotective parents pamper their children even when they need disciplining. They defend them even when they are guilty of wrongdoing. She stressed three points;
1 Do not become friends with your children. Be friendly parents but retain your authority as parents.
2 Do not get angry and criticize but talk gently and resolve the problem.
3 Forgive your children for whatever mistake they make. Make allowance for their age and circumstances.
She spoke about addictive and overuse of social media which is disrupting personal lives and health.”37% divorces are caused by this. People who indulge in it do not realize that these virtual contacts are not real. Let children have privacy and space. But remember to spend some quality time with them. Have at least a daily meal together and keep all the electronic gadgets away.”
During the interesting and lively Q&A session, Kajal answered questions from the audience and media representatives. When asked,” Who is your “role model?” She quipped “Me”.
Earlier, Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar who recently retired from positions of professor of pathology and associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology, welcomed Kaajal.
Dr. Jagdish Sheth, Charles Kellstadt Professor of Marketing at the Goizueta Business School of Emory University thanked Kaajal for coming toAtlanta, wished her well on her remainingUStrip and presented her with a flower bouquet amidst loud cheering applause from the audience.
After the talk, Dr Majmudar said the food which she served on a Gujarati platter was not warmed up leftovers but a creative cuisine. “Her transparency of truthfulness came out when she unhesitatingly shared her estranged relationship with her father; an unusual trait in Indian culture,” he said. “She mesmerized the audience with her uninhibited boldness, courage of conviction, and feelings flowing like a fluid. But I feel that she could have left out some of the unconnected anecdotes which may have helped sweeten the milk but in my view diluted some of the situational problems she discussed. It would have been better if she had spent that time in adding more substance to dealing with problems in marital relationships and parents/children’s relationships. Similarly in portraying Karna’s character in Mahabharata, which is poignantly portrayed in the sanskrit Play Veni-samhara, she missed a splendid opportunity to tap her rich resources of compassion, comprehension, and analytical judgment to illuminate the contrasts in Krishna and Karna, as Krishna was raised with abundant love and ubiquitous approval whereas Karna perpetually carried a stigma of abandonment and put downs.”
“In sum, we are all very grateful to Kaajal for visiting us and giving a very interesting talk. It was a productive evening where a worthy speaker found an appreciative and attentive audience,” Dr Majmudar said.
Ajmeri and Chirag Thakker thanked Ashish Desai of Sai Adult Day Care Center for kindly letting use of the hall. They went on to thank all the sponsors, guests, media representatives including Anjali Chhabria from TV Asia, photographer Darshan Shah ,and volunteers Kaushik (Keith) Patel, Mahendra Ganatra, Nimesh Sevak and Sanjay Pandya to name a few.
Chirag Thakker is a well-known and respected businessman and a community leader. He plays a proactive role in many organizations to offer his community services. He along with Mustafa Ajmeri who is lauded for his sterling role in promoting performing arts inAtlantadecided to organize Kaajal Oza Vaidya’s talk. They received very encouraging support from the community for their efforts. Dipa Shah who is also fond of writing helped to host Kaajal while inAtlanta.