ST LOUIS: Sangama Kannada Association of St.Louis celebrated the New Year, Ugadi, and its 31st year of existence, on a grand scale at the Mahatma Gandhi Center, St. Louis, on April 30 with 300 plus people attending the event.
Both adults and children participated in the cultural evening with gusto and brought the culture and heritage of the South Indian state of Karnataka, to St. Louis.
The National Anthems, both Indian and American, were conducted by the youth instrumental ensemble.
Mrs. Shubha Bhaskar, outgoing President, gave her welcome address in Kannada and English. Young kids performed a play, with beautiful props, rendering dialogues in Kannada, the native language that they have learnt and practiced, displaying great emotion and action. Kids and youth sang invocatory songs in perfect pitch and harmony. Teenagers, youth and adults, dressed in color coordinated costumes, performed dances to catchy tunes.
Youth got recognized for their volunteerism as Dr. Tejaswini Nayak, who guided the Youth Committee of Sangama, along with Mrs. Kumuda Prabhakar, recognized all the youth volunteers, with a certificate of appreciation.
A highlight of the evening was the felicitation of Mrs. Asha Prem, the founder, artistic director, dance teacher, and choreographer of Dances of India, bringing the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam to students in St. Louis and nearby. Guided and supported by her husband, Late Dr. Premachandra, Asha and Prem founded the pioneering organization, Dances of India, when there were hardly any schools in the Midwest to promote the ancient classical Indian dance. Mrs. Latha Vishwanath presented Mrs. Prem with a sandalwood garland and a fruit basket.
Senator Scott Sifton was invited to preside over this function. Mrs. Shubha Bhaskar introduced the Senator to the audience. Scott Sifton, a Democrat, representing the St. Louis County in the Missouri Senate, was elected to his first four-year term in November 2012.
Sathish Nanjappa, Sangama Secretary, presented Senator Sifton with a fruit basket and handed him the plaque to present to Mrs. Prem. Senator Sifton spoke highly of Mrs. Asha Prem and her service to the community and also thanked Sangama for having invited him to be a part of the special evening.
The finale of the cultural program was a suspense thriller play with a star cast of talented members of Sangama. The families of the outgoing committee members came up on stage to express their thanks to the Sangama community for their support of all events through the year, took a bow, bid good bye and made way for the incoming committee.
Following a delicious and sumptuous dinner, with a menu of traditional Karnataka cuisine, cooked by the Sangama member families, the evening continued with a specially invited Kannada fusion orchestra, Svar Amrita, from Bengaluru, India. The evening ended well with people humming popular tunes from yesteryears and joining on the dance floor to the feet tapping music of the orchestra.