Gujarati Samaj Celebrates Navratri with a Twist

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GSH President Amee Patel (center), vice-president Yogina Patel (second from right) and executive Commitee Members. Photos: Gautam Jani

HOUSTON: The Gujarati Samaj of Houston (GSH) orchestrated a memorable Navratri Mahotsav this year, hosting nine colorful nights of garba, dandiya and full-on fun. On weeknights, celebrations were held at the VPPS Haveli’s Hall – with the event being successful each night. For the first time in the organization’s history, President Amee Patel along with Vice President Yogina Patel and their team executed an outdoor Navratri Mela on both weekends, Friday and Saturday September 26 and 27, and the following weekend October 3 and 4.

The weekend event surpassed all expectations, as this year boasted a record crowd each night. Held at Houston Farm and Ranch near Bear Creek, the venue made for a perfect place for families and friends to gather and enjoy dance as well as an array of cultural food, kids activities, shopping and music. A seven-member band known as ‘Seven Star Group,’ was flown in from Baroda just for the event, and community members danced the nights away to traditional tunes as well as hit Bollywood numbers.

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7 Star Band from Baroda

When asked about the success of the entire nine-night celebration, GSH President Amee Patel said, “it was definitely a challenge, but a challenge that my team and I humbly accepted. It was an honor to be a part of the team that brought about this change. The reason for the venue change was two part: 1. to bring about a healthy change, something new; but moreover, 2. to save money and raise more funds for our community center. The goal was to ensure a successful and enjoyable event, while raising greater funds for the GSH. I can confidently say we did just that. Without bringing specific numbers into play, the Samaj saved an average of $35,000 this year thru our Navratri event. Collectively, we will continue to make decisions that better the Samaj as well as enrich the lives of our supportive members.”

“It was one of the best Navratri experiences I’ve had in Houston,” said Masala Radio’s Sunil Thakkar. An active member of GSH, Thakkar went on to say, “it reminded me of my school days back home in Matunga (Mumbai.) The open air breeze and the band from India – made me nostalgic and left me wanting more. Looking forward to next year’s festivities.”

The GSH recognizes and thanks the many sponsors and food vendors who showed support by contributing time and effort towards the event. House of Spices was a platinum sponsor, Tara Energy a gold sponsor, BBVA Compass Bank,, Ramesh Cherivirala, Maharaja Bhog, Aling’s Hakka, Deep Foods, Travelguzs and Emirates airlines were a few of the sponsors without which the event would not have been a major success. The weekend venue also hosted a number of food vendors, so that attendees could savor delicacies from a variety of Indian cuisines. Ashiana, Kurry Walah, Maharaja Bhog, Kwality Ice Cream, Yogi’s Kids corner and Hari Tea and Snacks were among a few of the delicious food options.

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Photo: Vanshika Vipin

To make for friendly competition, the GSH asked members and sponsors to participate in fun contests. Both weekends, the Samaj held competitions for the ‘best dressed’ male and female, and ‘best dancers’ male and female. Two round-trip tickets to India were raffled courtesy of Emirates Airlines and Travelguzs. Winners of the above included: Foram Patel and Amit Pathak who won two tickets to India. Kaushal Shah and Meera Shah, winners of the best dancers, each won a three-night, four-day the 3 night 4 day stay in Dubai courtesy of Travelguzs and Cox & Kings. Tara Energy gave away a 42” flat screen TV, and BBVA Compass gave away four Rockets Tickets. The winner of the ‘best aarti thaali’ received a fifty dollar gift certificate from Mona Lisa Salon, and the best dressed couple received a fifty dollar gift certificate from Aling’s Hakka.

As with each Navratri season, members casted votes to elect a new President and Vice President on the final night of Navratri – October 4.  In a close election, it was announced that Yogina Patel (current Vice President) has been elected as President, and a member of this year’s executive committee, Girish Naik was elected as Vice President, respectively. Patel and Naik will officially serve the 2014-2015 term of GSH starting December 2, 2014.

All said and danced, residents of Houston and the greater Houston area are in eager anticipation of what new innovations will transpire at next year’s GSH Navratri event. A huge round of applause (be-taali style) to the Gujarati Samaj of Houston for a job well-done!

Founded in 1979, GSH organizes educational and cultural activities to promote Indian heritage, and is registered as a Nonprofit organization under 501(C)(3). Our mission is to create an innovative, inclusive and imaginative “Gujarati Samaj Community Center” to implement our vision.

For details and more information regarding the GSH, visit  

The GSH would like to offer our prayers and condolences to the family of Dipali Shah, who passed away on the eighth night of Navratri.  May her divine soul rest in peace.