Fellow VPA Members, I hope you are all still as elated as I am after our successful 15th VPA Heritage Festival & Convention marking 25 years of our organization. It was truly a nostalgic, euphoric, and festive event! Dinesh and I are grateful to you all for coming from near and far to support and celebrate our Heritage. Thank you all for the overwhelming amount of compliments, acclamations, and support. Social media has lit up with all your photos and comments with regards to this Convention. Though I am biased, I hope you will all agree with me that this was the “liveliest” of all VPA festivals!
Auspicious blessings of Sri Sri Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji fostered a truly positive energy atmosphere for us all. Kudos to our orchestrator and Convention chair Dinesh Gowda for pulling this off! His supervisory stamina is to be commended. Roopa Gowda, VPA-Secretary and Chair of Publicity committee, worked the hardest keeping us all informed through our Newsletters in addition to her active participation at all levels. Hilton DFW Lakes and Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas was an ideal place for our festivity. Our decorating team made the venue fittingly colorful, festive and elegant. The welcoming and orderly registration was flawless. It was a pleasure to see all the attendees so colorful, smiling, and of course shooting awesome selfies!
I thank the hospitality committee for hosting artists and guests exhibiting traditional Texas hospitality. The host, and hotel management committees were meticulous and always available. Watching our money man Prasanna Kumar, check and double check, tally accounts, settle bills, and encourage folks to give Lakshmi was smooth and pleasing! I thank our Webmaster Krishna Rudraiah for designing and maintaining our user-friendly Festival Website.
The programs were diverse with dances, singing, instrumental music, theatrical topped with mind awakening spiritual discourse, and sports contests. Rashmi Shashikumar put in numerous hours of her personal time to choreograph the programs that were high quality and a pleasure to watch. Sudhakar Arakere’s program and stage management was punctual and dazzling. I am immensely proud of the emcees and programming team who ran the programs punctually without any hitches. Congratulations to the AV committee including Partha and Shashi Kumar from Houston for exceeding their goal to have a flawless stage, lighting, projections and sound system. Thanks to Ram Kalpat from Sound-O-Rama for delivering crisp and clear audio and exemplary lighting. We could not have pulled this off without the large volunteering committee members supporting all the other committees.
The kickoff meravenge was exuberantly celebratory and infused with energy. The inaugural speeches were inspirational and befitting. Artists from India including Professor Krishne Gowda, Khan Brothers, and Nagachandrika Bhat performed at their best and stole the show. The evening concerts by Dr. Shamitha Malnad and Guru Kiran’s band felt like we were at a private concert! I’m especially proud of our VPA members including our youth, who practiced intensely and put on a variety of shows to remember! I am very appreciative of the two drama teams from the East and the West for putting on such a high level theatrical performance.
Food communicates history and culture that other things cannot. I want to give a special recognition to our VPA-South President & Food Committee Chair Kavitha Ramanna, Venkatesh Gowda from Houston and Lalith Thota from Mayuri Restaurant. The nostalgic and mouthwatering food felt like going to a Vokkaliga food festival within the heritage festival!Kudos to the Food team for a memorable feast! They truly exceeded our expectations. No one waited for more than 5-10 minutes to get his or her food–it was orderly and punctual. Dinesh and I sincerely thank all the chapter members for pitching-in an instant, rolling up their sleeves and serving the meals!
One of our goals this year was to get the youth more involved and get them excited about VPA! Under the leadership of Nidhish Lokesh, we have met and exceeded our goals! It was music to my ears when I overheard from several youth members that this was “the BEST VPA” they have attended!
The ancillary forums and spiritual discourse were overwhelmingly impressive. I hope you all took home positive messages that you can incorporate into your daily lives. Thank you for supporting and participating in all the sports activities that the sports committee organized tirelessly.
My special thanks to all the sponsors for your generosity and demonstrating the “Art of Giving.” We hope this art will inspire more members to donate! We could not have had a successful event without your support. Nanna Vandanegalu!
Congratulations to our new National VPA President Babu Keelara and all the officers who will be assuming office in 2018. I wish them the best and devote my full support.
We will be publishing the “Vishwamanava” souvenir magazine soon. This will be treasured by all the families and will be fun to look back on in years to come. Please take a minute to write a couple of lines about your experience at the festival and send it to me at President@myvpa.org. I encourage you to send me your best photos you took at the event as well. We will include some of your comments and photos in the magazine. Please, also take the time to contribute your original art, articles, and poetry to the magazine. I request you to provide this to us before July 31st to publish the magazine on time. Encourage your family and friends including ones who were not able to attend to take advertisements and best compliment announcements to all VPA members and beyond. This feature will be available on our website soon.
Pardon me, as I have highlighted only a few names in this letter intentionally as it has taken the whole village to run this event and the list would be exhaustive! You are all extraordinary and dear to me. My special thanks to my wife Nandini, who supported me unconditionally and wholeheartedly through this process. Last but not the least, I thank each one of you from the bottom of my heart for coming in record numbers, taking time out of your busy daily lives, spending your hard-earned money, and being such a supportive audience. The festival is meaningless without you all!
I am convinced that we have set the stage for members and guests to eagerly look forward to our future VPA Heritage Festival and Conventions as we all do for the holiday season and New Year celebrations! Thank you for your volunteering, hundreds of hours of hard work, actively participating, and being part of this truly colorful festivity! I am looking forward to seeing you all in 2 years!
Balu Chandra, M.D.
VPA National President