I was born in a small village called Bhanvad in Saurashtra Jilla, in the State of Gujarat, in India. My father referred to Bhanvad as the capital of the world and always advised us to keep alive Gujarati language and culture. Shortly after my birth, our family moved to Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia and my childhood passed there. Gujarati community, in Addis, had made a dedicated effort to keep Gujarati language and culture alive and ran a school with Gujarati as the medium of instruction. During the first decade of my life, my education took place completely in Gujarati, in our new adopted homeland. Additionally, I learned Amharic (the native language of Ethiopia). I loved Gujarati literature. After we moved to India, we were sent to a Convent school, which marked an instant and one hundred degree transition to English as the medium of instruction. I put up a brave revolt but eventually accepted the change. Thereafter, I adopted English language and became increasingly comfortable as I got immersed in English, as fish is comfortable in water. Gradually I fell in love with English literature and began to gain proficiency in it. Gradually, I began forgetting Amharic, as I learned some Marathi (language of the state of Maharashtra, in India), learned some French, and learned and loved Hindi (the national language of India). I continued to enjoy Gujarati as well but it was hard to continue to nourish the deep love for Gujarati language and literature. Deep love for the mother tongue that was born in the adopted land, in Ethiopia, did not stay alive as strongly in my motherland of India, during this period. After many years, once again, in my adopted country, USA, that became my own, the love for Gujarati language and literature, was reawakened through DAGLO. What is DAGLO? Literal translation of the word means a type of long shirt like clothing worn by men, in Gujarat, and the acronym stands for Desi Americans of Gujarati Language Origin. DAGLO’s tag line simply states “DAGLO means a humble effort to keep alive Gujarati language and culture”. This simple statement hides the enormous effort of many volunteers, the love and affection with which DAGLO has been nourished and the transformative effect it has on people like me.
With the contribution of enormous and multi-talented volunteers and artists, DAGLO conducts programs to share aspects of literature and culture, Gujarati poetry and prose through songs, expert commentary, as well as skits. Kudos to Pragnaji Dadbhawala for this massive effort, simply to provide a platform for expression and appreciation of the language. And despite the availability of both languages, English and Gujrati, I find it hard to describe what enormous treat it is after so many years, to experience once again language, literature, and poetry in a language in which one uttered one’s very first words, addressed loved ones, and made very first sense of the world around.
All of DAGLO’s programs have been awesome. But in the next blog, I will particularly share a little about the recent program on India’s respected Gujarati poet, Kavi Shri Zaverchand Meghani in Gujarati. See more information on DAGLO programs and on Gujarati literature at http://www.gujaratidaglo.wordpress.com