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This Eid, A New Houston Tradition is Born for IMAGH

The entertainers (from left), Imtiaz Munshi, Azim Khan, Uma Mantravadi and Kamal Hajji did a 75 minute set of songs.

The entertainers (from left), Imtiaz Munshi, Azim Khan, Uma Mantravadi and Kamal Hajji did a 75 minute set of songs.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: Coming up on the heels of a successful Eid ul Fitr Milan program this past June, the Board of the Indo American Muslim Association of Greater Houston decided to take a risk and hold a program to commemorate the second Eid (al Adha) on a lesser grand scale, but celebratory nonetheless. Held at the Savoy Banquet Hall on Wilcrest and West Bellfort, the event took no less effort to call countless people, but in the end, over 250 people attended the function this past Sunday, September 9.

Everyone had been forewarned that dinner would be served exactly at 7:30 so as to allow those who wanted to attend the evening Maghrib prayers at the nearby masjid and still allow those who didn’t to start off with the buffet dinner. The main idea was to start the musical program right afterwards and keep the set of songs flowing right through 10:30.

Board members of IMAGH, Club 65 and SAYA pose with other volunteers at the Eid Al Adha celebration at Savoy Banquet  Hall last Sunday, September 9

Board members of IMAGH, Club 65 and SAYA pose with other volunteers at the Eid Al Adha celebration at Savoy Banquet  Hall last Sunday, September 9

Rahat Sultana Kalle, the VP of Club 65 and Joint Secretary of IMAGH welcomed the audience (which kept getting bigger) and explained that this was an experiment to bring all the three branches of the organization – IMAGH, Club 65 (for seniors) and SAYA (for youth) – together for one celebration. “With this event tonight, we are committed to holding an Eid Al Adha program every year,” said Latafath Hussain, one of the visionaries behind the formation of the IMAGH and undoubtedly its chief advocate and promoter during its formative years, a feat for which he is often referred to as “The Godfather of IMAGH”.

Kalle introduced Dr. Fatima Sayeed, a retired physician to explain the significance of Eid Al Adha in Urdu and right afterwards, Dr. Manazir Shamsi explained in English the traditions associated with the festival: embracing, visiting those who have lost someone, sharing and donating and giving gifts.

Democartic candidate for Congressional District 22 Sri Preston Kulkarni made a brief appearance and posed with IMAGH directors and co-founder Latafath Hussain (third from left)

Democartic candidate for Congressional District 22 Sri Preston Kulkarni made a brief appearance and posed with IMAGH directors and co-founder Latafath Hussain (third from left)

Once again, 89-year-old Taiyab Shipchandler, affectionately known as ‘kaka” (Uncle), rose to entertain with a ghazal by the 19th century Urdu poet Galib in response to a request at last month’s C65 meeting by IMAGH’s oldest life member 90-year-old Shakuntla Malhotra (known affectionately as mama), who was in the audience and acknowledged by Kalle. Kaka sang another number from the movie “Shah Jehan”.

The highlight of the program was a long set of songs – oldies and other popular Bollywood songs – by a polished group of local performers who can mesmerize an audience all on their own: Uma Mantravadi on vocals (boy, can she ever hit and hold those high-pitched notes!); Imtiaz Munshi on keyboard and vocals; Azim Khan versatile on electric violin and guitar and Kamal Hajji on keyboard. One hopes that this foursome will put out a CD of their own one day.

Democartic candidate for Congressional District 22 Sri Preston Kulkarni made a brief and impromptu appearance at the event after a long flight back from a meeting in California. He met with interested supporters on the side and discussed his campaign which is within one percent point of his opponent Pete Olson according to some polls.

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