CHICAGO: The Federation of Gujarati Associations of North America (Fogana) held its 36th Midwest Regional Cultural event of Raas, Garba, and Folk dance competition on Saturday, July 9 at Copernicus Center (Gateway Theater) in Chicago. The event attended by over 1000 members, guests and participants, was hosted by Gujarati Samaj Chicago and featured performances by over 266 participants.
The Chief Guest was Shri Chhotabhai Patel and Guests of Honor were Dr. Bharat Barai and Dr. Umang Patel.
Nirisha Shah, Joint Cultural Secretary of Samaj, welcomed the sponsors, judges, choreographers, managers, participants and volunteers and reviewed the basic rules and guidelines for the attendees. The Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the third time was Bharti Desai.
The event began with the traditional Mangal Deep lighting ceremony by Chhotabhai Patel, Dr. Bharat Barai, and Suryakant Patel with their respective families. A prayer dance by Nrutya Kalashree Dance Academy was followed by the song title Mangalastakam. The second prayer dance was performed by Mudra Dance Academy with the song title Shree Ganeshay Dheemahi.
Suryakant Patel, GSC President gave a brief history and highlight of Gujarati Samaj Chicago, founded in 1976. He thanked all the past presidents, Board of Trustees, volunteers, generous donors and current and past sponsors.
Introduction of guests was performed by President Suryakant Patel and Jayesh Parikh GSC General Secretary. Judges were Bhartiben Jobanputra (Canada), Alka Patel (NJ), Geetaben Shah (VA), Pranjal Katwala (Washington DC) and Payalben Jariwala (MA).
Eighteen dances were performed as part of the Fogana dance competition. Participants were from Illinois, Michigan and Texas. Overall 266 participants competed in Raas, Garba, and Folk dance in four different categories which included Minor, Junior, Senior and Adult.
The following were the teams in these four categories:
Minor Raas by Srujan Dance (Illinois) and Sur Sangam (Texas); Minor Garba by Gurjari of Chicago (Illinois); Minor Folk Dance by Gunjan Group of Chicago (Illinois), Nartan Group of Detroit (Michigan) and Gujarati Samaj Chicago (Illinois); Junior Raas by Srujan Dance (Illinois) and Sur Sangam (Texas);Junior Garba by Gurjari of Chicago (Illinois); Junior Folk Dance by Sur Sangam (Texas); Senior Garba by Sur Sangam (Texas); Senior Folk Dance by Nartan Group of Detroit (Michigan); Adult Raas by Gujarati Samaj Chicago (Illinois) and Sur Sangam (Texas); Adult Garba by Gurjari of Chicago (Illinois); and Adult Folk Dance by Nartan Group of Detroit (Michigan) and Sur Sangam (Texas).
The event winning teams in the four categories were as follows:
Minor Garba Gurjari of Chicago (Illinois) First Prize, Minor Raas Srujan Dance (Illinois), Second Prize, Minor Raas Sur Sangam (Texas) First Prize, Minor Folk Dance Gunjan Group Chicago Third Prize, Minor Folk Dance Gujarati Samaj Chicago (Illinois) Second Prize, Minor Folk Dance Nartan Group of Detroit (Michigan) First Prize and Minor Best Choreographer Raksha Dave.
Junior Garba Gurjari of Chicago (Illinois) First Prize, Junior Raas Srujan Dance (Illinois) Second Prize, Junior Raas Sur Sangam (Texas) First Prize, Junior Folk Dance Sur Sangam (Texas) Second Prize, Junior Folk Dance Nartan Group of Detroit (Michigan) First Prize, Junior Best Choreographer Induben Mongrola and Sunita Narayana and Minor Best costume Raksha Dave.
Senior Garba Sur Sangam (Texas) First Prize, Senior Folk Dance Nartan Group of Detroit (Michigan) First Prize, Senior Best Choreographer Raksha Dave and Minor Best costume Induben Mongrola.
Adult Garba Gurjari of Chicago (Illinois) First Prize, Adult Raas Gujarati Samaj Chicago (Illinois) Second Prize, Adult Raas Sur Sangam (Texas) First Prize, Adult Folk Dance Sur Sangam (Texas) Second Prize, Adult Folk Dance Nartan Group of Detroit (Michigan), First Prize, Adult Best Choreographer Raksha Dave, Adult Best costume Neha Patel, New Choreographer Sunita Narayana and New Choreographer Vrushank Shah and Sonam Mehta.
At the end of all performances, Chief Coordinator Jayesh Parikh observed that “Fogana fosters dreams to help take its performers to new heights and gives its participants self-confidence, motivation, and a spirit of comradeship by creating a huge network of friends.”
Dr. Bharat Barai in his remarks stated that in his personal communications with last 4 American Presidents, he learned that they all highly value India as successful diaspora primarily due to rich family values, hard work and the importance of education. This type of cultural program infuses values of tradition and culture. He wished success to all participants now and in their future endeavors.
Chhotabhai Patel congratulated organizers of Gujarat Samaj, entire group of participants and their mentors for taking part in such a cultural show. “Most of us are aware of the hard work and struggle faced by Indians who came to USA for a better life and economic progress. Fogana provides a platform for interaction amongst the persons of Indian origin to keep up our cultural heritage intact for the coming generations,” he said
As part of the program, the following community leaders and event guests were presented with appreciation awards:
 Chhotabhai Patel: Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Award. This award was initiated by Gujarati Samaj Chicago and is awarded at an event like Fogana once or twice every decade.
 Dr. Bharat Barai, M.D.: Appreciation award for his long outstanding support and service to the Gujarati community.
 Dr. Umang Patel, M.D.: Appreciation award for his long outstanding support and service to the Gujarati community.
 All Past presidents were recognized as the pillars in the formation and growth of Gujarati Samaj Chicago. Those recognized were Jayantilal Mashar, Babubhai Contractor, Arvind Modi, Bhupen Shah, Sharad Patel, Jashwant Sheth, Jawahar Sheth, Chandrakant Patel, Deven Parikh, Manu Shah, Bharat Acharya, Mrs. Vanleela Amin, Avinash Desai, Nikunj Baxi, Girish Kothari, Mukesh Shah, Suryakant Patel and Mrs. Urvashi Patel for their outstanding work and dedication
Serving on the Fogana Midwest regional council are Mukesh N. Shah, Chicago (Chairman), Kanu Patel, Cleveland (Vice Chairman), Devanshu Dave, Detroit (Secretary), Dhaval Ghiya, Cleveland (Treasurer) and Dolat Desai (Trustee). Dr. Manish Pandya, GSC Cultural Secretary proposed a vote of thanks at the end.
Asian Media USA