Pranav’s 10th Annual Dinner and Awards

At the Pranav Ashram's Annual Fund Raising Dinner on Oct 3, from left: Dr Mohammad Unus Hack, Dhaman Kissoon, Pratiksha and Arun Gossai (daughter and son respectively of the late Sri Prakash Gossai), Sew Sanker, honoree, Swami Bhajanananda, David Singh, Brahma Kissoon and Sat Purushotam. (Photo by Ramesh Ramkalawan)

At the Pranav Ashram's Annual Fund Raising Dinner on Oct 3, from left: Dr Mohammad Unus Hack, Dhaman Kissoon, Pratiksha and Arun Gossai (daughter and son respectively of the late Sri Prakash Gossai), Sew Sanker, honoree, Swami Bhajanananda, David Singh, Brahma Kissoon and Sat Purushotam. (Photo by Ramesh Ramkalawan)

Dressed to the nines, churchgoers and community members gathered for Pranav Ashram’s Annual Fundraising Dinner at the stunning La Vita Banquet Hall on Saturday, October 3rd, for an entertaining evening of music, dance and dinner—pausing only to recognize the positive contributions of distinguished individuals and patrons.

The gala, now in its 10th year, celebrates not only the growth and impact of the Pranav Ashram but also the compassionate civic service of notable members of the ashram and the community. This year’s honorees were Dr. Muhammad Unus Hack, Mr. Sew Sankar and the late Pandit Sri Prakash Gossai in whose memory the event was dedicated. Presenting the awards were Sat Purushuttam, President of the Pranav Cultural Centre, Swami Bhajanananda of the Pranav Ashram and David Singh, well known community activist.

This years’ honorees were recognized for their contributions to the Pranav Ashram and within communities in Canada, the United States and Guyana. Homage was paid to Dr. Hack for his medical support for the less fortunate and Mr. Sankar for his unyielding dedication to the Ashram and its mission.

Pt. Gossai was acknowledged for his great influence and devout contributions, and according to Swami Bhajanananda, “his many years of humble, sincere, diligent, committed and unfailing service to further promote the ancient ideals, culture and tradition of the eternal religion, Satya Sanatan Dharma.” On behalf of Pt Gossai, the award was accepted by both his son Arun Gossai and daughter Pratiksha Gossai.

The list of performers for the evening included classical and film dances by Mumtaz Ali and Reshmi Chetram, religious and film songs by the students of the Pranav Ashram’s Heritage Music class, along with a special performance by photographer, videographer and percussionist Ramesh Ramkalawan and his sons Shiv and Sat. Closing the musical entertainment for the evening was well known music teacher Guruji Dev Bansraj. Shri Bansraj is the founder and director of Saaz O Awaaz Academy of Indian Music and winner of many musical competitions including, most recently, an Indian classical singing competition in Trinidad and Tobago in which he competed with over 35 performers.

Graceful melodies radiated from the talented and well disciplined children on the stage. Their beautiful renditions of bhajans and Indian film songs while accompanying themselves on the harmonium invoked contented smiles from Swami Bhajanananda and their music teacher, Shri Bansraj, both of whom have worked hard to hoist the students to their current status as well-taught and fine-tuned performers.

Dancer Mumtaz began with an adagio to classical khatak—one that has been performed in all its grandeur for hundreds of years—before moving to a faster tempo film dance, invoking the audience into a trance of heel tapping and hand clapping excitement. Classically trained at the Tarana Dance School, Ms. Chetram’s khatak dance rendition exuded the talent and poise required to effectively stylize this expressional musical genre.

In the closing half of the banquet, Sat Purushuttam commended the audience by remarking on the astronomical achievements of the members of the Guyanese community, who in a matter of only a few decades elevated themselves from an arduous life in Guyana to esteemed individuals, working humbling jobs to ameliorate the lives of their offsprings.

Pranav’s annual dinner is revered as an expression of gratitude for selfless individuals and offers a chance to commemorate the commitment of the ashrams devotees who, unhesitatingly supports the ashram’s philanthropic mission. The funds raised by the banquet, along with the community, patrons and the leadership of Swami Bhajanananda will continue to crutch the ashram’s purpose of spreading goodwill and uniting the community through religion and public service.

______________________________

Indo-Caribbean World, October 14, 2009

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