California Puranava ’23: A Vibrant Tapestry of Indian Culture in the Bay Area
On November 4th, 2023, a burst of vibrant colors and melodious sounds filled the air in the Age well center at Lake Elizabeth, Fremont California and the place was bustling with activity. This was the scene at the Puranava ’23, an event celebrating India’s rich cultural heritage, hosted by Global Organization for Divinity, Bay Area Chapter. The event, a confluence of art, knowledge, and tradition, drew in a diverse crowd of approximately 350 people, eager to experience and learn more about India’s vast cultural landscape
In one of the rooms at the venue, a tiny little Lord Nrisimha, jumped from behind a pillar roaring and reminding Hiranyakashipu about his boon and how he has fulfilled every single one of them. Next, a lean Ganesha came on stage and recited the “paalum theli thenum… “. Following this, a brave warrior lady, complete with sword and shield, who courageously led her army against invaders, came on stage. This was the Heritage Fancy Dress competition, a kaleidoscope of colors and characters, with children dressed as historical figures, deities, and national leaders of India, each narrating slokas and stories that have been passed down through generations.
While the fancy dress was in progress, in a different room, Anitha (name changed), a 6 year old was reciting the entire Hanuman Chalisa, with clarity and devotion. She was participating in the Sloka competition, a recitation of ancient Indian verses. The verses resonated through the hall, as children, some as young as five, recited verses with clarity and devotion. It was a moment that transcended the boundaries of time, connecting the present with the past through the timeless rhythm of sacred texts. Medha, one of the participants, says, “…..I enjoyed listening to slokas recited by the other kids”.
The Samskruthi Art competition was another arena where creativity flourished. Children expressed their understanding of Indian culture through paintings and drawings, each artwork a unique interpretation of themes ranging from mythology to landscapes.
In the Heritage Quiz, teams of youngsters huddled together, whispering and debating before answering questions on India’s history, geography, and scriptures. Their eagerness to learn and participate was a sight to behold, embodying the event’s spirit of cultural transmission and education. There was a special audience round and all the attendees participated enthusiastically.
As attendees meandered through the venue, they were greeted by a series of activities, each a window into a unique aspect of Indian culture. Medha says, “I enjoyed all the activities.”
Nearby, the Vedic Math session unveiled the secrets of ancient Indian mathematics, demonstrating techniques that could simplify complex calculations. Navaneethan, one of the attendees, says, “I learnt a new way to do math problems”. Medha says,”….I enjoyed knowing about Vedic math and that math can be fun and so much knowledge existed thousands of years ago”
Ayurkids – Roadmap for healthy living for kids based on Ayurvedic Principles by Smt. Manju Kolli, Ayurhitam
One of the highlights was the Ayurkids session, led by Smt. Manju Kolli, a renowned Ayurveda practitioner and founder of Ayurhitam, an Ayurvedic treatment center based in Fremont. Parents and children listened intently as she explained the principles of Ayurveda and its application in daily life. Her session provided insights into a holistic lifestyle, a testament to the age-old wisdom that has been a cornerstone of Indian living. She was motivated to talk to the kids because she believes the kids, the future citizens need to be given the knowledge about health in the beginning itself. And, Ayurveda is a science that is at least 5000 years old whose principles are still valid till date. She feels, educating the kids is like “sowing the seed at the right time and watering the plant. The plant then grows into a tree that can provide shade to others… As we sow the seeds in the kids, they will grow with this knowledge and share with others who do not have this information. So, it is important to introduce [Ayurvedic principles based healthy living to] them as early as possible……As kids growing up in India, we were taught to wake up in the morning, eat when the sun is high and go to bed on time. These were the values that were given to us and we didn’t have to go to a class to learn. Since we are living away from these principles, [when] Ayurvedic principles [is] given to the children at the right time,…..they will be able to incorporate these principles in their life”
California Puranava ‘23 was not just about competitions and workshops. It was a day of immersive experience. The Mehendi sessions, where skilled artists adorned hands with intricate henna designs, were a testament to the beauty of Indian artistry. The photo booth captured smiles and colorful attire, creating lasting memories for attendees.
As the day came to a close, Puranava had woven a rich tapestry of experiences, leaving attendees with a deeper appreciation of Indian culture. The success of the event was not just in its vibrant displays and engaging activities, but in its ability to bring together a community, fostering connections and understanding across cultures.
Smt. Uma, mother of Hayavadh and Hreemathi, shares, “The motivation for bringing my children Hayavadh and Hreemathi to Puranava ’23 goes beyond merely preserving our Indian heritage; it’s a deliberate choice to immerse them in an environment where mingling with like-minded peers during traditional events like putting mehendi, painting Krishna masks, engaging in a heritage quiz, and participating in Vedic math and Sloka chanting not only fosters healthy friendships but instills a profound sense of cultural pride and understanding. This intentional connection to our roots ensures that our children embrace their heritage with faith and camaraderie.”
The organizers, volunteers, and sponsors of California Puranava ’23 deserve immense praise for orchestrating an event that went beyond mere celebration. It was a journey through time and space, a bridge connecting the Bay Area with the heart of India, and an educational experience that highlighted the importance of cultural preservation and appreciation.
As people departed, there was a sense of fulfillment, a feeling of having been part of something special. Puranava was not just a day-long event; it was a vivid reminder of the beauty and depth of India’s cultural heritage, and a beacon of hope for its preservation and propagation in a globalized world.
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