If you happened to be a Keralite living in the Los Angeles area, chances are that you have little free time these days. Nearly all available hands in this small but growing community are working tirelessly to stage a breathtaking convention, and celebrate their cultural and spiritual roots in North America.
Nestled in the foothills of the San Bernadino Mountains, the fifth biennial Kerala Hindus of North America (KHNA) Convention is set to open with great fanfare.
Less than a decade ago, KHNA was conceived as a forum for Keralites to bring together local organizations, build networks, and address the cultural, educational, and socioeconomic needs of the Kerala community. The organization has also developed a scholarship program to promote higher education, and is currently working on supporting other worthy humanitarian causes, including orphanages.
As chief local organizers of the convention, Organization of Hindu Malayalees (OHM), has been preparing the groundwork for the last 18 months. A highlight would be Sri Sri Ravishankarji of the Art Of Living foundation who will spend a day at the convention venue with participants. He will be joined by eminent speakers from many Chinmaya Missions in the country, such as Swami Ishwarananda, Siddhananda, and Shantananda, who will give rousing spiritual seminars. In addition, a host of invitees from socio-political organizations in the U.S. and Kerala, including N. Gopalakrishnan of the Institute of Scientific Heritage, Kerala, will also address the audience. To round it all off, there will be literary, health, women’s and youth-oriented seminars to discuss issues relevant to the diaspora.
The entertainment programs will include recitals by the violin maestro, Padmasree T.N. Krishnan, famed Karnatik musician Sankaran Namboothiri, and featured artistes Rajesh and Mala Pisharody who will re-create classical Hindu traditions through mohiniyattom performances. There will be a retelling of the Nala-Damayanti story through the famed pantomime, Kathakali by Anupama and party. Youthful playback singers, Biju Narayan and Rimi Tomy will enthrall the audience with their contemporary musical fare in a colorful concert on banquet night.
Several competitions are planned for children, youth, and adults including geeta chanting, art, music, and dance; a stimulating quiz program; and the ananya competition to choose the next young KHNA queen. The program will also feature a fundraising raffle.
Ravi Raghavan is a medical doctor, and the chair of KHNA’s Media and Publicity committee.