India Day 2018

Kansas Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer recognized the first anniversary of last year's tragic, racially-motivated murder of Mr. Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Overland Park, but also celebrated the contributions of our state's Indian community, when, at the State Capital rotunda in Topeka, he declared Wednesday, March 14, 2018 to be the State of Kansas' first "India Day."  

 

At this remarkable event, the governor, his staff, and representatives of diverse Kansas Indian communities stood together in solidarity.  This was a stand to counter racism and hatred.  We celebrated the many contributions the Indian community has made and continues to make to the towns and cities of Kansas even as we mourn the loss of Mr. Kuchibhotla.

 

Dr. Colyer emphasized the value the Indian community brings to Kansas, and his statement was met with loud applause that reverberated throughout the beautifully-domed Capitol   He celebrated the Kansas' Indian community with pride, friendship, and hope for our future, even as we sadly remembered the horror of one year ago when a bright, talented young man, a husband and a father, was violently brought to an untimely death.  It was a loss not only for his family, but for all of us.  And a loss we feel every day.  But from that loss we come together.  We celebrate what we have in common rather than letting fear or animosity tear us apart.  

 

I think Srinivas would be happy to see that the horrible act against him is being met with greater community and togetherness, a remembrance of the positive things he brought to the lives of those who knew him and a remembrance of the positive contributions of the Indian community to our state.

 

Everyone beamed, when CAI presented the Governor with a CAI-logo polo shirt and the Kansas City group gave him a handsome flag display, showing united India and U.S. flags, and he assured us he knew just the perfect place for it in his new office, obviously moved and happy to be at the event.  

 

He viewed several presentation booths, shook hands, graciously posed for photos, and spoke with attendees earnestly and with genuine interest.  He especially seemed to enjoy the cultural presentations and laughed when I teased that he could learn some Bollywood dance steps from the talented dance teachers who were performing.  

 

We all found him to be an affable, openhearted, and a gracious host.  It was obvious that he thought highly of our community and culture.

Our presentations were a smooth mix of east/west culture, dance, music, diversity and industry that everyone could enjoy.  

 

Well-made presentation booths circled the rotunda.  The Kansas senators, representatives, and capitol staff roamed around, meeting and greeting attendees.  In addition we all were treated to a huge buffet of delicious Indian delicacies prepared by the wonderful Globe Restaurant of Topeka.  Many attendees had never eaten Indian food before and declared it delicious.  Everyone seemed energized by the lively mix of sights, sounds, and aromas, the great camaraderie and conversations, and the sense of joined communities coming together in our diversity and our sameness to share a special time.

 

Representing the Indians of Wichita were CAI: President - Mr. Yudhisthir Joshi; Past President - Mr. Sachin Bharati; Past Vice-President - Dr. Alan D'Sousa.  Other representatives were:  Brij Systems LLC. - Mr. Yogesh Parikh; Kathak dancer - Ms. Apoorva Rao and family; Hindu Temple of Greater Wichita President - Mr. Dhananjay Joshi; Wichita Asian Association-Past President Dr. Anita Rhagavan-Lawless; National Down Syndrome Society SAA Board member-Tavrick Lawless.  Also part of the Wichita delegation were Mr. Andy Ghosh and Mr. Vasu Maradana.

Their contributions and participation are greatly appreciated.

All in all it was a wonderful and meaningful day at the Capitol.  We formed new friendships and further solidified old ones.  We hope we all are on a path of healing.  We will forever grieve for the death of Mr Kuchibhotla but we move forward in the hope that his passing will always be honored by future Kansas India Day celebrants and will help keep the spirit and joy of this great event alive for many years to come.  May Mr. Srinivas Kuchibhotla rest in peace, and may all of us stand strong and united, and give each other the strength, love, and support  to carry on in the days to come.  This first Kansas India Day was a meaningful step forward, but let's not stop there.  Let's keep going forward, together, remembering what we have lost but happy for new friends and experiences in the future.  Many thanks and sincere gratitude to Governor Colyer, to the organizers and participants, and to all who came and made it the special event it was.  

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© 2019 by A. Ghosh