Nag Panchami & Raksha Bandhan

One of the very important festival among the hundreds of feasts and festivities in the Hindu culture is Nag Panchami . It is an extremely significant day in the Hindu calendar and this year it was celebrated on 25th of July 2020 on Saturday. It was celebrated throughout Nepal and India and other countries where Hindu adherents live. Worship is offered to Nag Devata or Serpent God on the fifth day of the bright half of the lunar month of Shravan, (July / August) according to the Hindu almanac. This is an annual celebration with the devotees of both Lord Shiva and Vishnu observing the day with great reverence and devotion.

Tradition and faith decree that observing fast on the day offers protection against snakebite. When you recall that the subcontinent has almost 300 varieties of snakes, 50 out of which are highly poisonous (Huffington Post), it suddenly makes sense to propitiate the serpent God! On this day, idols/ photos of serpent Gods are worshipped with offerings of milk, sweets, flowers, and lamps. At many places, devotees also offer milk to live snakes. Communities come together with dance and food, celebrating the bonds between man and nature. Nag Panchami Puja is a momentous reminder that one should love, respect, and embrace all forms of life on earth.

Raksha Bandhan (or more simply Rakhi) is a festival that is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Shravan according to the Hindu Lunar calendar. This day is a celebration of the love and respect between siblings marked by sisters tying a Rakhi or a colourful thread/band around their brothers’ wrists. The brother affirms his respect and duty of care for his sister. The word Raksha means protection, whilst Bandhan is the verb to tie. Traditionally the sisters tying a Rakhi around their brothers’ wrists celebrates their relationship. The sister prays for the brother’s health, happiness and success and puts a tikka on his forehead and offers a sweet to him, he in turn gives her a gift.

The festival goes back to antiquity with many legends and stories associated with them. It has now evolved over the years to celebrate other relationships like those between friends and close ones, spreading the message of love, respect, and care. Rakhi is a vital reminder that one should love, respect, and embrace relationships and value them forever. It is a significant festival in the Hindu calendar, followed eight days later by Janamashtami (which we shall cover in the next issue). This year it will be celebrated on the 3rd of August.

AGM & Annual Event 2020

As the situation is still uncertain and the government rules for social distancing are constantly changing, we now aim to organise the AGM online on 29th August from 10:30 am – 12 pm

Subject to social distancing rules, we are planning to walk in the afternoon of the same day in the moors. We will provide details of the AGM and the walk in due course. 

Existing trustees please email chairpersonsaas@gmail.com by 21st August 2020 if you would like to continue as Trustee. We also encourage members of our society, keen to play an active role, to consider joining as associate trustee. Please email us (chairpersonsaas@gmail.com) if you are interested to join by 21st August 2020. 

There are no further updates on the Annual Event planning yet as we are monitoring the current situation. We will provide an update in the September Newsletter.

A memoir worth reading: Poona to Plymouth

One of our former Trustees, and a longstanding member of our Society and the community, Anil Koshti, MBE, has recently published an incredible memoir which makes for interesting reading; capturing his amazing journey spanning his childhood and youth in the British Raj in Poona (India) to his retirement in Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth.

His stories highlight his creative childhood living in the midst of a bustling Indian cultural hub in Poona, his studies in India before arriving in England in 1961 to study chemical engineering, his marriage and the embracing of many cultures and ways of life, succeeding as a top professional in his field. He qualified in 1964, got married that year, and attained British citizenship. The book describes some interesting aspects of Anil’s career in various industries before his retirement in 2007 as a nuclear regulator. It explains some of his time in management, his enthusiasm for classic cars, and his dedication to his family and friends. Anil was awarded an MBE in 2007 for services to the environment. The book is available on Amazon in softback or Kindle version.

This book has another extraordinary layer, as Plymouth teenager, DHSG pupil and a family friend inspired him to write this memoir during the lockdown. What a lovely endeavor of hope and friendship during the Pandemic. Many congratulations Anil and Georgi Wilton! I hope this will inspire other members of the community to pen down the exciting and humorous renditions of their own journeys!

Shifting the paradigm from disease to wellbeing – Dr. A Chatterjee

One of our Trustees and a colleague from the University, Dr. Arunangsu Chatterjee (AC) has published an interesting article in the New Statesman (17th July Spotlight) focusing on shifting the paradigm from disease to wellbeing. The Mandarins at Whitehall seem to be truly listening, as very soon there was the policy drive on tackling obesity and encouraging cycling. This same philosophy is embedded in the Indian health science of Ayurveda, considered by many to be the oldest healing science which  literally translates from the Sanskrit to “The Science of Life.”  AC makes a quick historical comparison with the earliest pandemic Plague and the Spanish flu and lessons of history that policymakers and governments ignored around the world to their peril and distress of their people. He makes a moving case for the economy of wellbeing.

His article can be read here:

https://www.newstatesman.com/2020/07/shift-paradigm-disease-wellbeing/

South Asian Society’s Creative Art and Talent Contest helped us to raise £1060 for Food Banks

The response from our young talented participants was fantastic and I look forward to sharing the creative artworks with you in future editions of the newsletter.  An independent panel of judges carried out the judging of the entries in all the categories. They included an impressive selection of professionals who have contributed to life, society and their professional fields in the South West in extraordinary ways; they included Anil Koshti (MBE), Manoj Chitnavis (Educationist), Natasha Koshti-Symons (Mrs Atlantic 2020) and Sarita Nesargi (Lawyer). The judges were truly impressed with the submissions and found them moving, impressive, exciting and notoriously difficult to judge the winner; they were so well matched and creative. We are so proud of our young ones.

The results were very close, and we have had excellent feedback for all our participants. We are pleased to announce the winners in individual categories:

Under 10s
Music, Drama, Speech video: Rehaan Chatterjee
Writing: Adit SobtiArtwork: No entry

10 – 18 years
Artwork: Sumedha Bagchi
Music, Drama, Speech video: Ayaan Chatterjee
Writing: Charu Sharma

A warm thank you once again to all the participants and to everyone who contributed to the cause and made this contest a success, and enabled us to collect such a welcome amount for the Food Banks. Separate communications will follow later about the

We would also like to thank all our judges for taking out time from their busy lives to judge the entries and provide feedback to all our participants.

Charity Talent contest – update

We have received a large number of entries for our ‘talent contest’ to support the ‘Foodbank’ charity and promote our young talents. Many thanks to all our talents for their enthusiastic participation. The entries have been sent to independent judges for evaluation. We aim to announce the results in the next (i.e. July) Newsletter.

Until now, the Society has generated ca. £ 700 for the ‘Food Bank’ charity. Sincere thanks to its members and well-wishers for their generous support. We have been in discussion with the local ‘Foodbank’ and a leading superstore to efficiently organise this event.  We aim to transfer the ‘food materials’ to the ‘Foodbank’ in the 3rd week of July.  There is still time to make the donations so if you have missed the opportunity please spare a few moments to help the needy local community during this stressful time.  The details to make the donations are given below:

Account name: South Asian Society

Sort Code: 09-01-55

Account Number: 66415186

Reference: Your surname-Foodbank

SAaS fundraising event through Art and Talent Contest for ‘Food Banks’

Dear members and well-wishers

The Covid-19 is affecting our communities at their core. This crisis has also given us the opportunity to come closer, share our values and help each-other during this unprecedented global predicament.

In line with previous charitable events, South Asian Society (SAaS) of Devon and Cornwall has aimed to raise funds for ‘FOOD BANKS’ through an exciting contest involving younger members of our communities to showcase the talents, reflect their perspectives and feelings into fun and art.

Those members and well-wishers of the SAaS, who are not able to participate in this contest are requested to donate generously to support this noble charitable cause (bank details given in the attached flyer). The collection of donation without participation in the contest will continue until 30th of June 2020. Communities need to support one another at this time and think about those most vulnerable and affected by the pandemic.

The deadline to participate in the contest is 11pm, 20th of June 2020. Please find details about the event in the attached flyer. By entering in the contest, it is implied that you agree with the ‘Terms and Conditions to Participate in SAaS Event’ downloadable from the link below.

Contest theme: Life in times of the Corona

We will most gratefully welcome your co-operation and efforts in support of the wider community, including wider dissemination of this Art and Talent Competition.

Please do not hesitate to contact us saascontest@gmail.com if you have any queries regarding the contest or the charity event.  

Looking forward to your generous support to these activities.

Yours truly,

Professor Awadhesh Jha

(Chairperson, SAaS) on behalf of the trustees

COVID – Community fundraising initiatives

We are pleased to announce that we are working on couple of fundraising initiatives supporting the local community to combat both short and medium-term challenges.

Art and Talent Contest supporting Food banks 

The contest could be a great way to channel children’s and wider community perspectives and feelings into fun and art and to have a place where audiences could see it. The contest details will be shared separately later this week. This is our medium-term effort to help and contribute culturally within the local community but also raise funds for charities in Devon and Cornwall who are and will have an instrumental role to play in the recovery ahead. 
Watch out for our next newsletter for further details. 

AGM & Annual Event 2020

Annually, the society organises its AGM in the month of June. The AGM is a valuable opportunity for its members to meet socially and discuss the progress made and how to move society forward. It also gives us the opportunity to start planning for the annual event, normally organised in the month of November. Due to the prevailing situation, the trustees have agreed to postpone the AGM until the situation improves. We will be reviewing the Government relaxation rules for social distancing and announce the date of AGM and the Annual Event at the earliest opportunity. It will be a great occasion to meet in person. We all should be looking forward to it.  

The tenure of current office bearers will expire following the AGM. The trustees will, therefore, be electing new office bearers after the AGM. We will be giving advance notice for the AGM and will also encourage members to volunteer themselves to become trustees to serve the society.


Devon and Cornwall Police Zero Tolerance to Hate Crime Pledge

Devon and Cornwall Police have a Zero Tolerance to Hate Crime. With that in mind I would like to make those of you who don’t already know, that you too can support this pledge, helping to empower your communities that Hate Crime will not be tolerated. 

The pledge aims to:

  • Increase knowledge and understanding of Hate Crime among our communities
  • Promote reporting methods, including third party reporting
  • Explain how the police respond to a victim of Hate Crime
  • Help individuals understand how we can deal with those individuals who commit hate crime

You can sign the pledge by visiting our site: https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/pledge

Please show your support as an organisation and spread the message amongst the communities that Hate Crime is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.