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20th Anniversary Celebrations of the Senior Citizens Program showcases “Old is Gold!”

All the Bollywood music lovers frequently refer to nostalgic songs from yesteryears as an “Old is Gold.” or “Golden Collection.” The implication is that the composition is memory down the lane, which never lost its glitter.

 

The grand success of the recent 20th Anniversary packed Banquet of the Senior Citizens Program (SCP) at the Ashiana Banquet Hall, Global Mall not only confirmed that Georgia Seniors have retained their own glitter, but are also worthy of respect and extra gratitude for their contributions to humanity and to the society we live in. After all, with Age comes wisdom!

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The Banquet on Sunday held on September 11, 2016 also showed the perfect avenue of empowerment and challenges many senior citizens need after retirement. Yet the fanfare and camaraderie at the Banquet amply showed the Seniors may have greyed but remain spirited.

 

SCP’s Founder and Executive Director Raj Razdan warmly welcomed all and gave a brief account of SCP’s evolution from a small, 20- member organization of seniors/elders into Georgia’s most vibrant with more than 500 robust members foster fraternity of seniors through frequent social get-togethers, feeling of camaraderie, important presentations for the health and welfare of seniors, lunches, dinners, health fairs, picnics and entertainment programs. Today, we are celebrating our 20th Anniversary, averaging approximately an event per month without fail for these past 20 years – that’s over 240 events and more than $500,000 of sponsorships over these 20 years, through the generosity of our many steadfast committed sponsors, volunteers, participants, musicians, restaurants and well wishers. It’s amazing to look back 20 years ago and to realize the incredible growth SCP has experienced in membership, activities and capabilities. SCP will always be evolving and we look forward to what the next decade would bring,” said Raj.

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She continued, “Tonight, we are honored to have India’s Consul General Nagesh Singh, Former Atlanta Council Member and a great Friend of our community Hon. Greg Pridgeon, Head of the Chancery, Hon. D.V. Singh and many distinguished guests. On this occasion, we must pledge with renewed commitment and enthusiasm to continue to bring a positive influence to our adopted country of USA and yet thank with gratitude India for endowing us with its rich heritage, culture, history and traditions. The possibilities (implying rather than relegate senior citizens to the sidelines of life, we should celebrate them and work to enable them to more fully become integrated in society) of what we can accomplish are endless, and in the words of Swami Vivekananda, “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached.”(Applause)

Being 15th anniversary of the infamous 9/11 attacks, a moment of silence was observed as a mark of respect for the fallen heroes.

Then the party began! Ujjagar Wassan, Anjana Shah and Raj Razdan emceed the celebrations festooned with glitzy entertainment showcasing a rich mix of shairis, poems, fashion show, dances and a medley of songs, old and new, by talented local Atlanta artists, mostly seniors.
Raneez Collection presented a Fashion Show with Seniors clad in colorful saris and fetching outfits swinging elegantly into action displaying the latest collections of fashionable outfits in vogue, with great poise in front of cheering audience (displaying more courage than most of the young folks sitting there. LOL).

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Wassan regaled the audience with a few Shairs. Mohan Lal followed this with two soulful Saigal ghazals; ‘Bazaar se guzra hoon’ and ‘Layi hayat aai kaza’.

Prominent and long-time senior members of the SCP, Sharad Shah, Mansukhbhai Shroff, Mrs. Gauba and Vinay Doshi lauded yeoman services of the SCP team of volunteers for enriching the lives of the seniors.

Pallavi Patel, an extremely talented dancer and a Senior herself, enthralled the audience with her scintillating dance to the song “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram”

Raj recognized and invited a well-respected community leader Vikas Verma to introduce Chief Guest Hon. Nagesh Singh. In his enlightening remarks, Nagesh Singh said the issue of seniors is common everywhere. Seniors need caring and family support. They feel neglected and need togetherness and companionship.  He commended Raj Razdan and her team for their wonderful initiative in founding and running SCP…… This is the best gathering I have come so far.(Applause).I also want to touch upon concerns of increasing cases of marital discord among young couples who come to the U.S. on H1B visas. They need help. ….So, I request Indian Associations to interact with the Consulate to discuss ways and means of helping such unfortunate couples or spouses. Thank you for inviting me and I seek your blessings.”(Applause)

The Consul General presented awards to the well deserving SCP Volunteers, sponsors and many others for their outstanding service to the community.

Veterans, mostly seniors, of the Indian Armed Forces now residing in Atlanta were recognized befittingly for their services to their motherland India on this occasion by cutting of the cake in their honor. SCP’s senior most and much respected member, Mansukhbhai Shroff also did the honor of cutting the 20th Anniversary cake.

A major sponsor and a supporter of the gala, Anil Khatod introduced Greg Pridgeon, who has endeared himself to the Indian community with his amiable nature. In his short remarks, Hon. Pridgeon cited statistics proving a big rise in number of seniors in the U.S. Their housing, transport, food, health etc. will have to be taken care. “Seniors deserve proper care and respect because they have wisdom, perseverance, maintain traditions and they give lots of love. Atlanta is proud to have a large Indian community. We are eternally bound together from the Himalayas to the Appalachian mountains, from Atlantic ocean to the Indian ocean. We are bound together through the relation and respect Dr. M. L. King Jr. had with the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and through the Civil Rights Movement and Human Rights Movement here in the U.S. You all are worthy ambassadors of India and being a associated with Indian community makes me proud. My Congratulations to Raj and all the volunteers.”

Head of the Indian Chancery, D.V. Singh thanked for inviting him and congratulated SCP for its 20 years of exemplary service.

The entertainment progressed with Seniors Kusum Sinha and Anjana Shah reciting poems. Sandhya Bhagat’s Dhoop Chhaoon presented an amusing and riveting mime act,’Sadak kiske Baap ki’ Kalaivani Dance and Music Academy provided a Bharat Natyam item by T. Krishnan.  Nritya Natya Kala Bharti Dance and Music Academy students of Kumud Savla performed fusion dances to popular vintage songs. Punjabi Gidda (folk dance by ladies) led by Chinti Bali brought the seniors on their toes on the dance floor; with the Gujarati Garba group led by Pallavi Patel close on heels.

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The grand finale was the melodious repertoire of old and new Bollywood songs by Atlanta’s best singers Mohan Lal, Sunny Sachdev, Chandrika Narayan, Rohan Ullal, Anita Gupta, Pankaj Bhargav and Meenal Shrotiya. Having arrived as early as 5 p.m., many seniors were tired but not willing to quit even as late as midnight.

The proceeding for the evening, a little long, was well executed with seniors with Elders carrying the show as participants, decorations by Sushma Patel of 5th Season, delicious dinner catered by Ashiana, a/v & sound by Pankaj Bhargav and Sunny Sachdev, printing by Sanjay Pandya of Davis Printing, video by Anwar Ajmeri of TV Asia,and photography by Vinod Karia. Air India graciously gave a ticket for auction, myriad of door/raffle prizes were given by Ruby Beauty Center, Vinod Photography, Bhulabhai and Sushila Patel, 5th Season, Chinti Bali, Global Mall, Jewelry by Suhagan, Seva Adult Care and many others. The Gala sponsors were too many to name but the major ones included Media,  Drs. Lucky & Shabnam Jain, Pramod & Anju Mathur, Vikas & Nisha Kapil, Sanjeev & Chandana Chopra et al.

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We know that to a certain extent, each generation raises the next one in terms of improving quality of life and advancing social justice. For now, it has been an exhilarating walk down the road for SCP for the past 20 years. The journey continues with an upbeat spirit that we owe much of what we now have to the sacrifices made by those who came before us and for us to rededicate ourselves in service of elderly with respect and gratitude.

 

Reported by Mahadev Desai who also is a member of SCP for the last 20 years.

 

Photographs, courtesy Vinod Karia, can be viewed on the following link.

https://goo.gl/photos/MqBd8nr8BbHvEz3W7

 

 

 

By Mahadev Desai

Pics.by Vinod Karia