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The Millennium Konkani Conference

A Report

July is the month when Indians all over the American continent arrange for cultural gatherings, renewal of friendships and to arrange marriages. The North American Konkani Association held its biannual convention (Sammelan External Link)) in Chicago during July 2-4 of 2000. This year, the Kamats as a family were recognized at the Conference for our work on this website -- "..The Sammelan takes special note of the unique and truly monumental contributions toward promoting the Konkani culture made by an entire family". 

Vikas and Hiryoung attended the festivities and narrate the experience.

Chicago or Honavar?

We were delighted to hear Konkani being spoken  from the over 1200 delegates from all over North America. At one point Vikas felt he was in his hometown of Honavar, where everyone knew and understood the language. We met many people, some long lost friends of the family, ex-neighbors, people we had only met through the Internet, famous people, and many other interesting and enthusiastic Konkani brethren. Without exception, they were either Saraswats (Bhanaps or SBs) or Gowd Saraswat Brahmins (GSBs), so Vikas understood all the accents as well (which rarely happens in Konkani conferences held in India --read about 1999 All India Konkani Conference).

Cultural Potpourri

There were plenty of cultural programs to enjoy. The music alone made our long trip to Chicago worthwhile. There were children's programs, storytelling, mimicry, jokes, ... the whole works. The arrangements, were excellent and included shuttle bus service, baby sitting and encouraged impromptu discussions and exchange of ideas (and horoscopes!). There were eye opening talks by financial wizards ("Konkanis have always managed India's money!"), and Rhode scholars. There was a call to participate in the American political process.

The Great Disconnect

As expected, we noticed the proverbial generation gap among the first generation of immigrants and the second generation. While the former rejoiced in reminiscence, the latter's events included seminars on dating,  how to get into ivy league schools, and ball-room dancing.

Food Arrangements: Agony and Ecstasy

Cooking authentic Konkani food for 1200 people in a foreign country is no joke. But the organizers had raised expectation about the food by a creating a hype, and that had to be rectified by placing  large order to the Domino's Pizza on the first day!  However, the food in the subsequent days more than made up for the shortcoming. They provided three great meals and even a snack in the afternoon in true Konkani tradition.

The Millennium Konkani Swayamvar

One of our friends always referred to these conferences as Swayamvars -- the ancient Indian public meetings where the weddings were arranged, typically through a contest -- and was he right! The search for the best candidates was both competitive and intense. Who but the Indian parents understand the problems of finding good pedigree?!

See Also:

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