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New Yorker wins photography award in India

New York: Amateur photographer Pramod Ladiwala has won a prestigious award in photography in India.

His photograph featuring the resplendent fall foliage with a view of Hudson river won the first prize at Fotofunia (International Photography)’s 2-day exhibition on March 6 and 7 at the ICCR Bengal Gallery in Rabindranath Tagore Center, Kolkata.

Fotofunia has about 3,800 members in 91 countries.

Ladiwala is a native of Jaipur and won the prize in the Landscape category. Coincidentally, another photographer who won in the Street category, Mukesh Dwivedi, is from Dungarpur in Rajasthan.

Fotofunia Chief Administrator Jayanti Sarkar said categories included wildlife, fashion, creative, art and documentary, and a total of 10 winners were announced.

ICCR Director RN Goswami, Anando Basu from FujiFilm India, Mansi Bhattacharya of Photography Association Dum Dum inaugurated the exhibition.

International singer Pandit Mallar Ghosh graced the occasion.

Ladiwala, 61, told The South Asian Times that he lives in Bardonia, NY and has his business in New City (Rockland County), NY. Starting his jewelry business in 1980, he also mastered small office networking. “Right now I do this as social service, helping friends and family and small businesses,” he says.

Delving since 2008 into photography, he is more into nature and wildlife, but when travelling “I will do all sorts”, he says.

His passion for photography has brought him quite a few awards and countless digital awards.

For Pramod Ladiwala, jeweler by profession, photography is not just a hobby, it has become a passion (Images provided)
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Guru Nanak Chair set up at Canada’s Concordia University

To mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, Concordia University in Montreal has set up a Guru Nanak Dev Academic Chair to promote studies related to the Sikh religion. This will be the first Chair on Sikh religion in Canada. 

It is also one of the two Chairs mooted last year by the Indian Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The other Chair has already been set up at the University of Birmingham in Britain.

Indian High Commissioner in Ottawa, Ajay Bisaria, said that “on the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak Prakash Purab, the High Commission of India is delighted to announce the launch of the Guru Nanak Dev Academic Chair at Concordia University, Montreal.”

The Chair will be supported by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Indo-Canadian Kochar family.

The Indian High Commission in Canada is among the nearly 100 Indian missions which are celebrating the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak with various initiatives to spread the teachings of Sikhism.

In the Punjabi-dominated city of Brampton in Toronto suburbs, a road has also been named Guru Nanak Street to mark the occasion.

The city’s Brampton Civic Hospital, which had named its emergency department after Guru Nanak Dev in 2007, has also unveiled a new sign “Guru Nanak Emergency Department” on its building.

The hospital foundation’s CEO said, “Happy Gurpurab to all who are celebrating today. When we were raising funds to build Brampton Civic, the Sikh community committed support to help bring this much-needed new hospital to the city, and we are forever grateful.”

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Virtual event draws Yoga enthusiasts from across the South on IDY

By Manu Shah

Living rooms turned into yoga studios as family members stretched out their mats to flex and breathe together in keeping with the theme “Yoga at home and Yoga with the family,” during the 6th International Day of Yoga on June 21 in Houston.

Organized by the Indian Consulate in Houston in partnership with community organizations, the virtual event brought home the message that Yoga is the best way to achieve physical fitness and mental well-being.

Yoga enthusiasts created a sense of community by participating virtually in the session that was live streamed from India House Houston’s Facebook page as well as the Indian Consulate’s Facebook page.

Patanjali Yogpeeth USA President Shekhar Agrawal opened the program by delving into the purpose of yoga and translated some yoga sutras from Sanskrit to English with a brief explanation of its essence.

This was followed by a message from the pioneer of the International Day of Yoga and an ardent Yoga practitioner himself – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yoga, he observed in his message “provides multi-dimensional solutions to multiple challenges COVID-19 has brought. Yoga gives you the opportunity to know your immune system better.”

Alluding to the social distancing measures, he noted that “Yoga ends various kinds of distance…distance between our mind and body which is the root cause of many problems. Distance between the life we have and the life we want to have. Distance between our expectations and reality.”

India’s Consul General in Houston, Aseem Mahajan, joined a small group of community members at India House for the session. He welcomed the participants from various cities in the southern states of the US and stated that the growing number of participating organizations “reflects the enthusiasm and popularity of Yoga, despite the challenges of putting this together digitally to enforce social distancing norms.”  Invoking yoga’s holistic approach to well-being and health in these challenging times he described yoga as a binding force for humanity that goes beyond race, language, culture and gender.

The 6th IDY was commemorated with a celebratory video of the “Spirit of Yoga” produced by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The well-crafted video based on the yoga sutras of Patanjali captured various yoga poses by yoga enthusiasts around the world and was created without any-face-to face interaction.

A series of warm up exercises were led by Amit Khanna from the Indian Consulate and Srinivasan from S-Vyasa Yoga. This was followed by the event’s highlight – a virtual hour long yoga session from Haridwar, India by world renowned yoga guru Swami Ramdev.

In a first of its kind initiative, Hindus of Greater Houston marked the 6th International Day of Yoga by providing scholarships to four students from the African American community. The scholarships will support their training to become certified Yoga teachers.

Yoga enthusiasts from Austin, Denver, Dallas, Tulsa, Kansas, New Orleans, San Antonio and several other cities across the US came together on the digital platform. San Antonio held a successful 12-hour Yogathon on June 20 and raised more than $15,000 for yoga teachers impacted by the pandemic. The funds will be used to award grants of $500 to 30 local yoga teachers who make their living teaching yoga.

Appreciative comments poured in from prominent Houstonians.

Secretary of the Indian Muslims Association of Greater Houston Saeed Pathan said, “It’s always a pleasure to be a part of IYD. This year, COVID-19 didn’t deter us and we all enjoyed watching and practicing yoga virtually.”

In another message, Robert Boustany from Pralaya Yoga stated that “The IDY is an opportunity for all people to unite in peace, brotherhood and health for the welfare of our entire planet and that of future generations while preserving the vital ancient wisdom and the rich heritage of the yogic traditions.”

Director Integrative Medicine Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center Dr. Lorenzo Cohen noted, “This is such an important day to recognize and more important is that we start to spread this day out to every day of the year. The evidence is clear that those who lead a yogic lifestyle in the fullest sense of the word will not only lead longer lives but they will lead happier, more fulfilling lives….”

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