By Dr Vishnu Bisram
RICHMOND HILL, NY – Indian Arrival was celebrated in New York City on June 3 with an entertainment packed cultural variety concert and singing and dancing competition at the Smokey Park in Richmond Hill Queens.
The celebration was planned and organized by the Indo-Caribbean Federation. This was the 33rd Annual Arrival Celebration hosted by the ICF. The audience described the program as magnificent and entertainment packed.
The idea of observing “Indian Arrival Day” in New York was initiated by a group of Indo-Caribbean activists, including this writer, in1984 after a series of meetings with leaders of varied Indian organizations. The celebration is called “East Indian Arrival Day Celebration” commemorating the arrival of Indians to the Caribbean and from there to North America.
The event pays homage to the immeasurable contributions Indians have made to this part of the world. The arrival celebration began small and increased in size. Richmond Hill was chosen as the site for the celebration because of the hundreds of thousands of Indo-Caribbeans living in the area.
Last Sunday, patrons braved the cold weather to come out in full numbers to support and cheer the performing artistes who gave their time and performance for free. There were three competitions: male and female singing and also female dancing.
The program was streamed live on the internet by GuyanaChunes. The emcees for the day’s proceedings were Imran Ahmad, Lakshmee Singh and Shanaz Hussein. As in previous years, the crowd was entertained by the Sansaar Sangeet Orchesta led by Anoop Dhanpat.
Music was powered by Toro Sounds. Star Party rentals provided the Stage and other accommodations. Decorations were done by Shanta Flowers. As customary, the program began with prayers by priests of the three major denominations: Rev Seopaul Singh, Bhai Latchman Budhai and Mohamed Jabbar.
The winners of the male singing competition were Gopaul Mangalram 1st place, Ramdass Neebar 2nd place and Sookdeo Boodhan 3rd place.
The female dancing competition winners were: Alicia Persad 1st place, Varsha Boochay 2nd place and Shakeira Ali 3rd place. The female singing winners were: Geeta Lalchan 1st place, Vanessa Matura 2nd place and Lisa Boodram 3rd place.The judges for these competitions were from Guyana Parmanand Sukhu, Seeta Panday, Lalita Ramnauth, Lisa Ali and Romana Maharaj.
The ICF recognized Mahadeo Shivraj for his achievements in and contributions to Indo-Caribbean film and theater. He is an outstanding film producer, director and actor for Indo-Caribbean movies.
A special appearance was made by the Nirvana Humanitarian Foundation performing a skit on the unemployed sugar workers in Guyana to highlight the hardship they face since the government of Guyana deceived them into closing down several estates.
Other participants included sizzling dances by Sahara Dance Troupe and the David Ali Dancing Academy. Also, several well-known singers from the community rendered songs including the charming Seeta Panday, Lalita Ramnauth, Jasodra Thakoordeen, Naseer Subrattie, Latchman Budhai, and Son Son Sonipersaud. Rohan Dean mesmerized the crowd playing his flute.
Parmanand Sukhu was the Chief Guest this year. He applauded the work of the organization and for promoting Indian culture in the greater NY area. The ICF President Ralph Tamesh commented that this was yet another successful event by the group. He expressed his gratitude to the body’s Executives and volunteers who he credited for making the event happened. He also commended the performers. “I wish to thank everyone who assisted in one way or another to make this event a success, especially HealthFirst and all the sponsors for their contributions.