Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America: International Maheshwari Rajasthani Convention 2016


By Sarish Kasat

STAMFORD, CT: Milestone. It’s a word that signifies a benchmark achievement, a truly momentous occasion that should be recognized and celebrated. RAYS (The Rajasthanis Abroad Youth Samaj — the youth centric organization of Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America, MMNA) celebrated one such milestone at the biennial International Maheshwari Rajasthani Convention (IMRC) in Stamford, CT over July 4th weekend. The convention brought together over 650 attendees of all ages from around the world, but the youth stood out this year.  “I couldn’t believe how many other Marwaris my age showed up to all of the RAYS events.” said Ben Rathi, a Marwari consultant in Michigan. From humble beginnings of 30 people at the first RAYS Marwari Youth Reunion event in 2011, RAYS surpassed the 100 member attendee mark for the first time in history, overwhelming, in a positive way of course, both attendees and the RAYS Executive Board alike. “We were pleasantly shocked with the number of youth who not only attended convention this year, but also actively engaged in our RAYS events! After months of hard work and planning, this weekend definitely exceeded our expectations,” said Priya Malani Manchanda, President of RAYS.


Front row, from left: Prince Bhojwani, Technology Chair; Nita Bhojwani, Ray-Jays Ambassador.
Middle row, from left: Sarika Malani, Events Chair; Priya Malani Manchanda, President; Roli Mandhana, Vice-President.
Back row, from left: Mohit Moondra, Community Chair; Pavan Malani, Ray-Jays Ambassador; Sarish Kasat, Public Relations Chair.

Throughout the weekend, RAYS members (youth ages 21-35) participated in a variety of events including personal and professional networking, cultural discussions through a game of Family Feud, and a simulation that made RAYS members “step in someone else’s shoes” and experience life in a different light. The simulation allowed participants to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the struggles of low income populations that have limited access to crucial resources. “Without generalizing too much, the Maheshwari community tends to be pretty well off. It was an eye opening experience to go through the simulation and understand on a fundamental level the struggles that some people deal with every day from the moment they wake up”, said Vivek Maheshwari, a Healthcare Strategy Analyst from San Francisco. Recognizing this privilege, RAYS members discussed how our privileged position could impact our own lives as well as how it could be used to benefit others.


Parag Bajaj getting an award from Sushma Pallod and Consul General of India in New York, Riva Ganguly Das.

In recent years, RAYS has placed a significant amount of effort in organizing events for even younger youth ages 13-20, a group that has affectionately been named “RAY-Jays”. As the future of RAYS, these youth crave the ability to become more intertwined in the community as they navigate high school and eventually college. Much of the foundation for the weekend was laid by RAYS-directed events with help from key youth coordinators from the RAY-Jays group. Events included panel discussions, networking opportunities with RAYS members, and a stimulating discussion about growing up “Marwari American” catapulted by an (edited for content of course) episode of the hit Netflix series Master of None. “It was refreshing to hear that so many of my peers had similar experiences growing up in a Marwari household,” said Pavan Malani, a rising junior at the University of Texas at Dallas. “Trying to balance that life with my life at school is tough, but it’s nothing compared to the struggle and sacrifices our parents made to get us to where we are today. The episode really highlighted that. The discussion that followed — these shared experiences with the rest of RAY-Jays and all of our parents really bring us closer together.” Rooted in this sentiment of a shared culture of Maheshwaris in the United States, the bonds that instantly formed between the youth of RAYS and RAY-Jays are evidence of a successful convention!

To learn more about RAYS, please visit

MMNA, a non-profit organization, has been in operation for more than 30 years. With nine chapters across North America, it caters to the needs of Maheshwari /Rajasthani individuals and families in North America. It maintains links between similar organizations in India and Europe. Its major charitable contributions are towards education and social work.