Vedic Fair 6 Brings Together Cultural & Traditional Diversity of India
By Vanshika Vipin Varma
KATY: Last Saturday, April 8, was unusual, novel and divergent. The Cinco Ranch High School in Katy was resonating and rumbling, for it was the 6th chapter of the Vedic Fair. Ashirwad- a Blessing, spearheaded by Geetha Ravula, has been conducting Vedic Fair’s since 2011.
Every year, people really look forward to the new chapters of this Vedic Fair. These events serve as an ideal opportunity for Indians living far away from their hometown, helping them ingrain the deeply rooted Indian culture and traditions in their kids. All the previous Vedic Fair’s have been quite a holistic experience with a mix of spiritual and cultural activities, traditional rituals, dance and theatre and some Indian delicacies.
The Vedic Fair 6 started at 3:30 pm and went on till about 9 pm. Ashirwad Young Wingz High School volunteers greeted visitors warmly with a Namaste, a respectful form which means, ‘I bow down to the Divine in you’. The passion with which they served was definitely worth acknowledging and praising. An astonishing observation was that the volunteers also included non-Indian High School kids, who seemed to be quite interested in learning about the Indian culture.
When the theme of such a mega event is mammoth by itself, one can expect a lot of wonderstruck and startled reactions. And that’s precisely what surfaced. As the visitors walked in they were welcomed by a grand Diorama structure depicting the theme of Samudra Manthan- Churning of the Ocean. The concept that mesmerized everyone was the perfect arrangement of a gigantic lotus flower surrounded by 108 artistically decorated lotus petals and lily pads in an ocean, a 11 feet tall Mount Mandara used as a churning stick, installed on the back-shell of a Turtle, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, and snake Vasuki as a rope. Goddess Lakshmi was invoked into a smaller sitting idol, inside another lotus, depicting her birth as a result of the Samudra Manthan. It was delightful to hear kids explaining this entire episode to visitors. The bright students of Ashirwad Indian Lifestyle Class of Katy had inscribed a thousand names of Lord Vishnu on these lotus petals. That was a diligent and meticulous task indeed.
The hall was charged with positive vibrations when Ashirwad Indian LifeStyle Class teachers and students recited the Lakshmi Astotharam with utmost zeal and energy. It was so hypnotic and enthralling that one could feel the grace of Goddess Lakshmi. It was then time for the most awaited segment of the evening- the Celebrate India Exhibits contest.
Children aged 9 and above showcased their brilliance in form of various exhibits on Vedic heritage. Beaming parents looked on as youngsters dressed up in attractive Indian outfits presented their part about Indian heritage, with poise and confidence. While each one of them was a winner in their own way, Sai Parthu Aki was announced as the Champion of Vedic Fair 6, for his unusual representation on yoga and meditation, wherein he portrayed his creativity by building Surya Namaskar poses with legos.
Along with such inventiveness and originality on display, Vedic Fair 6 revealed an astounding line up of Celebrate India exhibits comprising of well researched presentations on India’s who is who, Bhakthi Yoga, Bhagwad Gita- The Divine Song Vishwaroopam and Cosmic Form of Lord Krishna, Indus Valley Civilization, Chandragupta Maurya, 9 Famous Temples of Goddess Shakthi, Rama -The Lord of 16 Super Qualities, Ramayana, Samudra Manthan – Churning of the Ocean, Goddess Lakshmi, Dances of India, Mahatma Gandhi, Dwarka, 27 Nakshatras and their influence, Kumbh Mela, 4 Vedas, ISRO – Indian Space Research Organization, Buddhism, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism. It almost felt like the whole of India was on display through these 20 plus exhibits.
A captivating and adorable segment of the event was watching little kids dressed up as the Devis and Devtas of Indian heritage. A remarkable Shloka-thon contest was held in which participants chanted Shlokas from Sri Vishnu Sahasra Namam and Bhagwad Gita. As a contest rule, the contestants had to recite Shlokas by any number, in increments and in the reverse order. The participants impressed everyone in the extraordinary and intense contest. Srinidhi Srikalyani, lifted the ‘Enchanted Empress’ trophy after being declared as the Shloka-thon 2017 champion, at this very unique contest. Saanika Halapeti, the champion of 2016, was announced the 1st runner up and Aishani Sakalabaktulais the 2nd runner up.
It was about time for the prime time play, ‘Goddess Lakshmi- The Divine 8’.
Play showcased, the manifestation of Goddess Laxmi from the ocean and Maha Lakshmi choosing Maha Vishnu as her Bride Groom. The play finale ‘Divine Surprise 6’ mannequin challenge depicted Goddess Lakshmi in her pure love form and her eternal union with The Supreme. Elaborate and meticulous props, contemporary soothing music, remarkable and dazzling costumes with the well coordinated back screen videos made the play phenomenal and incredible.
The grand Vedic Fair 6 ended with Geetha Ravula thanking Ashirwad teachers, parents, students and team members for their continued commitment and dedication towards Indian Heritage. She deeply appreciated the backbones of this event- Priya and Ravi Sethuraman, Priya Muralidharan, Deepika Maharaj, Sri Ravula, Sailesh and Radhika Kaparaju, Ashutosh and Sonali Sapru, Anish Kumar, Vikas Ahuja, Uma Chidambaram, Mahima Bhat, Manisha and Mahesh Halapeti, Sachin Joshi, Suresh Napa, Vinod Conikee, Om Patel, Gagan Gopal, Alex Sov, Maryam Baldawi, and Ashirwad Young Wingz comprising 35 plus high school volunteers who served whole heartedly.
She also thanked Sam Merchant from Congressman Al Greens office, Sarojini and Subhash Gupta, and the other supporting organizations- Interfaith Ministries, ISKCON, Sanatan Hindu Center, Abhinaya School of Performing Arts, Universal Door Meditation Center, Islamic Society of Greater Houston, JVB Preksha Meditation Center, Sikhs of Greater Houston and Vedic Bazaar Vendors, for their support.
Geetha Ravula also mentioned, “We organize Vedic Fair to showcase Indian culture and this is vast and deep rooted knowledge that benefits one and all. These values when reflected and perceived without distortion can evolve a human being into higher consciousness. This is a start of their beautiful journey and I have seen kids who have been attending Indian Lifestyle class at Ashirwad evolving to a more achieving and yet balanced individuals. This is the best gift any parent can give their children, a tool for them to handle their challenges in life. If parents become part of such activities it is even more empowering to children and that’s one reason we bring Prime Time Play at Vedic Fair involving Ashirwad families every year. Academics and career is a survival game at a physical level but Vedic knowledge helps one balance mind, intellect and energies. As a teacher, it’s a great satisfying moment to see participant’s present well-researched topics from the heritage with excitement and confidence.
This year close to 40 high school volunteers served passionately from 8:30 AM till 10:30 PM and in future also we will continue to involve more youth in our programs. I am humbled to share what my Guru has bestowed upon me and serve the community”.
Saanika Halapeti, the 2016 Shloka-thon champion mentioned, “I have been in Ashirwad for about 8 years now and earlier on I learned that I loved to chant shlokas. When I was younger, I had pretty good memory but after pursuing shlokas, my memory has been enhanced so much that I can digest knowledge rapidly. At debate competitions, we have to memorize points, plans, and citations in thirty minutes to give a 7-minute speech and I can memorize them in no time at all. I can truly and genuinely say that shlokas have proved beneficial to me as well as my extra-curricular activities. Thank you Ashirwad!”
The cultural and traditional diversity of India comes under one roof at the Vedic Fair’s. The seventh chapter of Vedic Fair will be happening in February 2018.
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