The Mathur Diwali Function
Another memorable day, another memorable event – with folks rushing in last minute as well, as if they were anxious not to miss anything from their October season of Navratri, Dussehra, Garbas and Diwali fetes and bazaars.
However, our regional NJ Diwali event is a wee bit different, a wee bit individualized, and a bit more personal. Possibly, because it is more cohesive in the sense of mutual acquaintanceships at the very least, and then, meeting them at Diwali-time every year, their familiarity is renewed over time and new contacts made!.
The select voluntary group, that organizes our events, consisting of a very small number of folks has now strengthened their forces and become unshakably involved with the arrangements, the overall execution and the continuous attempt in the upscaling of the event each year. This group deserves due acknowledgement as it does take a lot out of their time and energies and the service they provide is invaluable towards making the yearly events of the Summer Picnics, the Dine n Learns and the Diwali event outstanding each time. The group, now finely chiseled to the Core Group comprises:
- Anil Prabha Mathur (with due tributes to the Late Rajesh Bhaisaheb).
- Arvind and Geeta Mathur
- Ashish and Shaloo Mathur
- Bob and Preeti Mathur
- Gaurav and Benita (Jain) Mathur
- Mukesh and Anita Mathur
- Naveen P and Manjulika Mathur
- Nitin and Kaajal Srivastava
- Rahul and Parul Raizada
- Rahul and Ruchi (Mathur) Srivastava
- Rash B Mathur
- Shashi Kant and Rajni Sheri
- Shruti Sheri
- Sunil and Rashmi Mathur
- Uma Lal Utkarsh and Ruchita (Mathur) Nadkarni
- Vikram and Ruchi (Bhatnagar) Batra.
Additionally we also receive a lot of assistance from Ritu Mathur, Rajesh and Kavita Mathur, Suman Mathur and Manan and Vedant Vyas.
New volunteers are always welcome..
It may be interesting for everyone to note that the children in these families too, are very enthusiastically inclined to participate in some form at every event, and we find that they are growing into this trend of arranging, organizing and helping with everything before, during and after the events. They take up any jobs their little hands and feet can manage and it can range from serving Prasad, taking around the Arti thaal, to fetching, carrying, wrapping up, decorating, following given instructions and of course joyously participating in the items in the evening entertainment programmes. Children from as little as 2 years of age, upto 10 were all part of the cultural programme held this Saturday the 23rd October, 2010 in New Jersey, USA!!.
A special expression of gratitude needs to be deservingly attributed to all the above mentioned members of the literally invisible ‘committee’ but being an able and committed association group, who have gone beyond their defined radii of delegated jobs and managed to produce such a marvelous show each time. .
It is unnecessary to say that there is a lot of work entailed behind the success of pulling off a function such as this. It begins from sending out the evites, the hardcopies, the back up invite calls to all the tri state residents at the very least, arranging the venue, the menu, the DJ, final decorations, the attendee registrations, the pooja and Prasad, the entertainment programme coordination, the m/cee’s job, the overall supervising of every small accountable thing, the being there as events happen, the final accounting, and mid course retrievals and corrections, the time keeping, the managing of all events in seamless flow, a total coordination and then the final wrap up. It is only a handful of folks who may truly understand the behind the scene ‘work-ology’ of the one whole put together. Only the impresario knows how much involvement there is in the dovetailing of the pieces. As they say, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown! This year, we had our event at the well reputed Akbar Restaurant, in Edison, New Jersey, a fine dining place that boasts a fanciful Mughlai cuisine with delectable preparations. The early Moghul style décor with stained glass archways walks you through pillared galleries to low ceilinged halls adorned with huge bowled chandeliers in dim romantic lights…..and the hall with a Sheesh Mahal backdrop made a grand reception area for the attendees. .
Our Mukesh Mathur, the able accountant (having stepped a while ago, into the big shoes of Arvind, who was the original accountant for a number of years) faithfully mans the Registration Desk, making affable and even exchanges of dues and deserving welcomes. Uma ji paired him at the desk for other dispensations. Mukesh has a hugely welcoming personality and is able to juggle the task of drawing out cash or cheques from the incoming lot, as well as making them feel delightfully warm and genuinely welcome!! Arvind and Geeta provided the wonderful Pooja set up, and Prasad and Arvind conducted the Aarti with the aplomb of a pandit – only in a different costume – an appropriate suit!! Drinks and snacks are laid bare at this point and that is the true meet and greet time – where eager haven’t-met-in-so-long relatives and friends avidly recount incidents past and present, as the thronging begins at the tables and the bar, and the background music is fairly drowned out!!.
Around 8PM Gaurav, the comical entertainer began the Cultural Programme with a bang as he literally jumped headlong into the hosting and m/ceeing scenario!! Armed with his accoutrements of a projector, a screen and a power-point back up to his wild and goofy twist to the Chitragupta origin of Mathurs, he had the audience in stitches. Apparently the first Mathur, lost in his achievement-wanderlust bumped into Ghalib who directed him to Vishwamitra and thence to the all the beauteous and bounteous women of the world in order to produce decent progeny from the fruits of his pursuits to spread over the world…..the whole presentation was so outrageously hilarious that all children and adults alike were fairly knocked out of their seats! .
The performances then were dotted with Gaurav’s comical interludes and he even got the host of about three dozen children present quite wrapped around his Pied Piper of Hamelin Town fingers!! They had a ball with his gig – somewhere along the way Dora, the Explorer and ‘Swiper, no swiping’, came into his stories – another highlight for the children!! Bob Mathur welcomed everyone with a short and warm speech, as is the tradition we have carried out for so many years. Bob is an ardent upholder of the cause and has indefatigably given of himself and his energies over the last 3 decades for the Mathur association functions. He has a deep affinity for the community and feels strongly for creating a foundation for posterity so our future generations begin to reap the fruit of our creatively devised labours for the community. He has continually come up with ideas to spread the ‘good word’ all around, in many ways, and truly the Dine n Learn, and the website were his own inspirations for the broadcasting of common thoughts all over..
And now, onward to the cultural programme
The first little individual performer was Aniha Mathur (Ashish and Shaloo’s daughter) who at 3 years, displayed early stage poise, and played some itty bitties on the keyboard with childlike fearlessness. .
The next item was the Performance of the Evening Pantomime with about 20 children playing some kind of ‘role’. ‘How Lakshmi ji came to the poor Dhoban’s house on Diwali night’ was adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey story (from her book Seasons of Splendour) by Preeti who herself scripted the narration, and directed and produced it for the occasion. The all star cast of children ranged from 2 and a half to 10 years in various roles and enacted their parts adorably and admirably – the costumes, and props, all lent themselves to the visual charm of the pantomime and you could see a sea of beaming parents, and grandparents, when their children stepped onto the stage!! What a proud moment for everyone!! This was one rare piece of drama, enjoyed by all..
An aside on this feature worth talking about is that the practices and rehearsals for this item were indeed quite intense what with all the kids in tow and mothers fluttering about to get them to settle down each time, to listen, observe and act and keep the cohesive flow of the pack!! .
Before the final night of presentation, rehearsals were held at the homes of Ruchita and Utkarsh Nadkarni, then at Shashi Kant and Rajni Sheri’s and last and the final one at Ruchi and Vikram Batra’s. All hosts were most generous and extensive and the children with breaks of happy pizza, pasta, cakes and ice creams, did get around to practicing with pep. .
The mothers’ individual efforts naturally made their kiddies work for excellence. A round of applause goes to the Mums: Parul Raizada, Ruchi Srivastava, Ruchita Nadkarni, Sonu Sheri, Ruchi Batra, Parul Tripathi, Dolly Chaudhri, Nandini Lal, Shaloo and Sharmila Mathur for all their on site help, costuming, and for maternal inputs of heightening their children’s enthusiastic young thespian talents with constant practices to make the pantomime a success, and the corresponding Dads for driving, and indeed being there!! Actual playbills, with in introduction to the Cast of Characters in the order of their appearances, designed by a 7 year young Reya Srivastava, were given out at the beginning of the presentation. Reya also designed a ‘King’s Palace’ backdrop for the sets which was quite a creative feat for a kid that age..
A Raffle was arranged by Shashi Kant Sheri ably assisted by Sunil Mathur and Raunit. There were 8 Raffle prizes, disbursed by Kamini Mathur. The winners included Abhinav Lal, Arvind/ Mathur, Ashish Mathur, Payal Shankar, Sushma Mehrottra, and Neha Singh. A sumptuous dinner was followed by open dancing to music provided by DJ Ashish of NJ, where anatomical expressions are often aired happily with careless abandon in the old and young alike. It is a real let-it-all-hang-out and make-merry abandon, where spirit and camaraderie meet in rhythm, melody and a hungama panorama!! .
Utkarsh Nadkarni has been capturing some finer moments of the evening with his dig-cam, and Rahul Raizada has done the same with his video. Shortly we should be able to link up with those via our website [www.mathurassociation.com designed by Ashish Mathur] and get a visual replay of some of the fun and memorable moments..
A deserving acknowledgement and a profuse thank you to all the association members may not suffice here, but we do believe it does express a gratitude that is felt by all those who attend the function, and have such a gala time that they probably cannot avail of anywhere else outside of India. The sustained cohesion of the community and the warmth that emanates from it embraces everyone into an ‘It’s a Small World After All’ melody and portends many more years of joyous reunions, whilst resounding in welcoming hearts. To all those who were unable to attend this year’s event, we wish you all a Happy Diwali, a Nutan Varshabhinandan/ Happy New Year and a sincere hope that you would all be a part of our next year’s function and join us in celebrating a in a real grand, smash-of-a-bash way!! Mathur Association NJ/ USA October 24, 2010.