Recently Bay Area Gujarati Samaj celebrated Gujarat Day. The celebration focused on two primary events. First, there was a book launch from collective writings by writers of Bethak group that meets once a month and writes on an assigned topic. The compiled book of 12,000 pages is the world’s fatest book and a nominee for Guinness World Records, currently under final investigation. It is sold on Amazon, with its special stand and is already bought by several individuals to be donated to libraries across the world.
The book is a result of not only writers who participated from across the world and wrote on a variety of topics, but also several scholars (Dr. Maheshbhai Rawal, Shree Jayshreeben Merchant, Shree P. K. Dawda, Shre Tarulataben Mehta) who participated by holding workshops on writing techniques and motivational seminars, editors and grammar correction specialists, sponsors and donors who announced gifts for good writings (Jayshreeben Merchant, Jagrutiben Desai Shah), hosts who sponsored and invited well known writers and speakers for talks and inspiration that include household names like Kajalben Oza Vaidya, Pannaben Naik, and Anilbhai Chavda, and media folks (Shree Rajeshbhai Shah, Jagruben Shah, and C. B. Patel). All of the above were recognized for their contributions.
The entire enterprise started with noble initiative by Shree Pratapbhai Pandya, who started his signature “Pustak Parab” (books to quench the thirst) in bay area. And almost simultaneously, Houston residents Shree Vijaybhai Shah, Hemaben Patel, and Pravinaben Kadakia and Kiranben Thakkar had started the collective writing initiative in Texas. Shree Pandya, an author himself, with a doctorate degree in Gujarati, has traveled across 500+ libraries in India that had closed down or were on the verge of closing down and helped save them with funds and resources. Pragnaben Dadbhawala joined hands with Shree Pandya and started Bethak, a collective writing group in the bay area, inspired by the Houston group.
Pragnaben runs Betak with Shree Kalpanaben Raghu along with active volunteers, Shree Raghubhai Shah, Shree Dilipbhai Gandhi and others. Active Bethak attendees come together every month, courtesy India Community Center (that provides the venue) and share the writings and receive feedback and encouragement. Pragnaben Dadbhawala and Shree Vijaybhai Shah worked tirelessly to promote the language and bring to fruition this major initiative of sourcing authors globally, and compiling the book that resulted in the 12,000 page book. Awards were given to the out of town honored guests and above volunteers, and writers. Yours truly also contributed actively and received an award.
The second part of the event was the play that celebrated Gujarati language by producer and scriptwriter, Shree Pragnaben Dadbhawala and director, Shree Raju Lohia. With a simple script and powerful acting, simple, yet heartrending dialogs interspersed with well known folk songs, age old children’s songs, well known poems and powerful acting, the play not only entertained the audience, but also drove home the point of the beauty of the language and the need to preserve and keep it alive, in a foreign land. Shree Pragnaben Dadbhawala, Shree Sharadbhai Dadbhawala, Urjitbhai Trivedi, and Dipalben Patel delivered outstanding performance as they challenged each other, quoted poems, and sang songs to make their points.
The event was attended and blessed by the Mayor of Milpitas, Mr. Jose Esteves; Vice Mayor of Milpitas, Ms. Carmen Montano; assembly member Kansen Chu with Daisy Chu; Council member of City of Saratoga Rishi Kumar with Seema Kumar; Dave Cortese, supervisor with County of Santa Clara; Commissioner, Narendra Pathak with Gitaben; and staff from the offices of Congressman Mike Honda, and Senator Jim Beall. The event ended with superb signature Gujarati meal of savory patra, dhokla, undhiu, puris, and delicious shrikhand, catered by Thali Restaurant.