Kaviyon ke Sang, Hus Hus ke Padde Tung: 16th Hindi Convention

The two-day 16th Hindi Convention themed “Hindi evam Yuva varg” was held on Friday, August 30 and Saturday, August 31 in Houston for the first time by the local chapter of the International Hindi Association.              Photos: Rajiv Bhavsar and Nandlal Singh

The two-day 16th Hindi Convention themed “Hindi evam Yuva varg” was held on Friday, August 30 and Saturday, August 31 in Houston for the first time by the local chapter of the International Hindi Association. Photos: Rajiv Bhavsar and Nandlal Singh

HOUSTON: The two-day 16th Hindi Convention themed “Hindi evam Yuva varg” was held on Friday, August 30 and Saturday, August 31 in Houston for the first time by the local chapter of the International Hindi Association and the Kavi Semmalan (Gathering of Poets) drew in about 350 people who heard from the Chairman, Dr. Nandilal Singh about the history and progress of the Association prior to a buffet vegetarian dinner.

National level directors of IHA board along with Dr. Renu Khator.

National level directors of IHA board along with Dr. Renu Khator.

After dinner, awards were presented to the many people who helped put the convention together, and it was capped by a short speech by Prachi Gadia in Hindi, a language that she only learnt to speak in classes at UT-Austin, much to the delight of those who have worked hard to get Hindi into a two or four year curriculum at several universities across the country.

For those who have attended the last few kavi semmalans in Houston, they realize that the events are not only magical in the use and flow of Hindi, but the context of the verses and the impact of the jokes and limericks is just so different that it can be stunning. Many who didn’t get the context went along, as poet Gajendra Solanki noted, tongue in cheek, by observing their neighbor was clapping. (The headline means “Among the poets, we laughed till we ached”.)

IHA members with Consul General P. Harish.

IHA members with Consul General P. Harish.

Solanki was the main headlining poet on Saturday night, introducing the others – Archana Panda, a software engineer from the Bay Area and Abhinav Shukla of Seattle – and then closing it out with a 45-minute recital of poems, many one-liner jokes and witticisms.

Panda, a young and petite figure in a golden green sari, was just as amusing with her observations on bad usage of Hindi and even English in the US (“Hindi I love, but I cannot say it now” as a person had told her once). She left with one piece of advice: “Jitne bachon ko vishwas deyeinge, utne unko hamare pass layange” (If you believe in your kids, they will stay close to you).


Shukla strode to the mic and dove into several verses set to a bhajan-like sing-song style, interspersed with many witticisms and observations of daily life, even speaking of events that he made up involving the Gita and Lord Krishna. He was especially good in his Patni Chalisas, in which he had humorous lines about how a husband has to cower down to his domineering wife’s demands.

The Convention events wooed an audience of over nine hundred attendees spread over Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday evening, with numerous cultural programs presented by Houston children and organization. The program started with Gita Dhyanam in Sanskrit by Vidya (8) and Vedant (5). The inauguration was done by Consul General P Harish with a keynote address was delivered in chaste Hindi and stressed the importance of Rajbhasha Hindi. He congratulated the IHA for taking up the task of language retention for future generation. He also unveiled a book “ America aur Canada mein Hindi” by Dr Bajrang Varma.

The IHA Board was introduced and National President Sushila Mohanka (81 years ) applauded the efforts of the Houston Chapter for taking a big challenge. The Friday evening program was emceed by Jasmeeta Singh.

The Houston Chapter President Sangeeta Pasrija welcomed the guests and spoke about the achievements of the Chapter since last 5 years and Vice President Swapan Dhairyawan spoke about the planning process for this Convention. He also thanked the Committees, the sponsors, vendors, volunteers and participants in this National Convention.

The Cultural dances “Laya of Shiva” by Keka Kar and students in an amalgam of three classical styles of India and the uniquely fast paced Nritya on Hanuman Chalisa by Shivangini School Dance on the opening day simply captivated the audience beyond expression and received a standing ovation.  Also  a chorus song by students of Madhu Bangia about love of mother tongue Hindi, was hugely admired.

Legendary Begum Akhtar’s and Girjia Devi’s well-known disciple Rekha Surya enthralled the audience with her program “Ghazal, Dadra and Sufi Music.”  The audience was glued almost until midnight for these beautiful renditions.

Saturday morning had all day programs consisting of fun, informative and meaningful workshops and literary sessions “Hindi Typing on Computers,” “Making Hindi Popular,” “Khel Khel Mein Hindi,” How to Write Hindi Poetry,” “Ram Ek, Naam Anek,” “Influence of Bollywood on Hindi,” “Shabd Manjusha – What’s the Good Word,” “ Bollywood ka Hindi per prabhav”,“Dainik Jeevan mein Hindi,,” “Kaun Banega Bharat Gyani,” and of course Antakshari.

Through these programs, the attendees learnt use of Hindi on computers, websites, social media and smart phones, and participated in discussions ranging from Hindi’s origin, present status and with concrete plans to make it continue its role as a premier world language all across.

The seminars were moderated and conducted by team members which included Om Gupta, Dinesh Singhal, Sanjay Sohoni, Rishikesh Sohoni, Abha Dwivedi, Meera Kapur, Nausha Asrar, Fatehali Chatur, Dr K D Upadhaya, Dr Sarita Mehta, Sangita Bhutada, Prachi Gadiya,Sarojini Gupta, Sushma Pallod, Alok Misra and Archana Panda of San Francisco; who made the session lively by engaging listeners as she gave some concrete tips on how to write poetry. The participation of kids like Arnav, Vatsala and Aditya were a true reflection of continuity in the mission of IHA. All the winners were awarded with gifts. The morning program ended with Gaana Pehchana’s rendition of a song lyrics game; a unique program based on Antakshari. Ram Sitaram thrilled the participants in this interactive session.

The Convention concluded with a Hasya Kavi Sammelan with accomplished poets including Gajendra Solanki (Delhi), Archana Panda (convener of San Francisco Radio Show “Main Shayar to Nahi”), and Abhinav Shukla (Author of “Patni Chalisa.”).  The poets reached the audience’s deepest senses with their themes of patriotism, issues dealing with the Indian American Diaspora, and hilarious recitations of spousal relationships, and current political affairs. This evening program was attended by Chancellor of University of Houston Systems Renu Khator and Dr Suresh Khator who are strong followers in Hindi poetry.

The evening program started with slide presentation of IHA activities, accomplishments and Star Talk (a federal program) by Dr. Nandlal Singh of Dallas and Kiran Khaitan of Ohio. The Houston committee members were all felicitated by Sushila Mohanka. Who was recognized for her dedicated service in continuing Hindi education and enrichment. Sarojini Gupta and Dr K. D. Upadhyaya were felicitated for their donor contribution to the IHA convention.

The organizations which supported in various capacities this Convention were also recognized: Club 24, Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America and Gujarati Samaj of Houston. The poets were felicitated at the end of program by both IHA and Gujarati Samaj of Houston through the hands of Dr Renu Khator. IHA Houston Chapter in a surprise move also recognized Mrs Shakuntala Malhotra (85) for her continued attendance for the last 6 years at IHA Kavi Sammellans.

Before departing to their respective cities on Sunday Sept 1st,  the attending IHA directors had a meeting with the Houston Chapter committee to learn how the program was put together. The IHA Houston Chapter leadership of Sangeeta Pasrija and Swapan Dhairyawan led a committed 27-member team of Houston’s talented kavis and Hindi premis to make this convention a great success.  The Convention is memorialized with a publication “Smaarika” that highlighted past achievements of Hindi, with suggested concrete plans to take Hindi language promotion forward.