COMA Newsletter September 2016

Hello friends,
fullsizerender-2September is the month of Onam, and with it Pujas and Onasadhyas. It’s amazing how us NRI Malayalees celebrate Onam with such pomp and splendor! I myself partook in a couple of mini sadhyas culminating in the grand COMA Onam. With each gathering I have been more and more amazed by the richness and generosity that our culture inculcates in us. Not to mention, the delectable spread of 20+ delicacies served on banana leaf. Feels like home away from home.

Fall is upon us. It happens to be my favorite season. Not too cold yet. Leaves change color displaying an exuberant display of yellows, oranges, reds and deep purple. Pumpkin picking, hay rides, barn bashes and of course Halloween. It’s sheer joy watching children trick-or-treat in their fanciful costumes, running from door to door collecting their annual loot of candy. Send in pictures of your Halloween celebrations and we shall display them on our COMA Facebook page.

Hope you enjoyed the first Presidential debate on Monday. I know I did! Looking forward to many more exciting ones to come.

So without further ado let’s dive into this issue of the newsletter.

Warm regards,

Anu Kurian

ONAM 2016
Thank you to everyone who partook in the 2016 Onam celebrations. This year saw record number of guests (450+) attend and enjoy the sumptuous Onasadhya and cultural programs. A lot of effort went into the success of the program, both from people that were visible, and those working behind the scenes, like front desk, on stage, and in the Onasadhya hall ensuring everything went like clockwork.
In the words of Ajoy Kumar (EC President), “There were countless volunteers who helped us manage this show – not all of them are mentioned in this newsletter. We want to thank each and every one of you for your contribution and being part of the team to make Onam a great success. Managing an event of this size is not possible without the active support of all COMA volunteers.”img_2958
This year, in addition to the must-have Onam favorites such as the Thiruvathira and Maveli procession, there were a few extra ‘Wow‘ factors.
First, the spectacular Stage setting, that definitely elevated the look and feel of the program to a very professional level.
Then there was the live ‘Chendamelam‘ , which transported the audience straight to Kerala. Not only was it a real audio-visual treat, but it also showcased Kerala’s traditional instruments.
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The ‘Pookalam competition’ was a rather apt addition, which yielded spectacular creations by three teams- Team Kidilam led by Pramod Pudhiyattil, Team Chullans led by Vinay Kumar and Team Super Duper Mallus led by Latha Nair. Congratulations Vinay and team on the winning Pookalam!
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Vipanchika, a medley of traditional and new Onam favorites, dedicated to the late Salil Nair, took us on a mesmerizing musical journey through the backwaters of Kerala. Special shout-out to the new debutants; the ‘teen singers’!
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And finally, the delightful appearance of Mohiniyattam, which is a classical Kerala art form that is becoming a rare sight even in Kerala. Choreographed by Remya Kiran, the program item ‘Jugalbandi’ combined classical arts of Keralanandanam, Mohiniyattam, Bharatnatyam, Thiruvathira and Kalaripayattu.img_2959

The efforts of all the children and grown ups who participated in ALL the cultural programs were manifested through a line-up of performances that were of epic proportions!
Special mention to the dynamic young emcees Arvind Nair, Sandra Pattani and the veteran Arun Davis, who did a stellar job, ensuring the audience enthusiasm levels were riding high through the program.

What struck me as ‘extra special’ was the whole-hearted involvement of the COMA Youth Committee who not only helped, but in some cases, completely managed certain aspects of the organization. Experiences like these truly enrich our youth and facilitate the creation of future leaders. Overall, good wholesome fun for the whole family to enjoy! The best way to describe the program is ‘SHEER EXUBERANCE’!

All the videos to the COMA 2016 02 ONAM 17-SEP-2016 can be viewed on the youtube channel ‘comacmh’. Kindly subscribe to comacmh if you have not done so already.
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh_JMXL75N4NeZf3nFeRiImbvcJWsQ69Z

For the picture gallery, click on the links below:
Link 1: http://www.photosaga.photography/Onam-by-COMA/
Link 2: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B7NZOnrMw5cfRUM5RUxBQklXOFU
Link 3: http://www.binuphotography.com.au/comaohio2016

FROM CONCEPT TO COMPLETION- By Dhanush Kondoth
Thought I’d interview Dhanush Kondoth on his one-of-a-kind stage creation. Here is what he had to say about how it came to be.

img_2953“The whole idea of wanting to do more with our usual stage background was kicked off by the EC team. The idea was to have an Onam themed decor which could be used more than once. A brainstorming team consisting of Rekha, Anjana, Divya, Arun, Simple, Shibu and myself got together and poured in our ideas of what we think we need and would be feasible within our budget. Finally, we came up with this concept on paper. We used the Onam song in the movie ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’ as our core inspiration.

Then I got off to make this concept a reality. I initially looked around for prefabricated pillars, but they where either not matching to the theme or were too expensive to fit in our budget. That’s when I decided to make it my self. After some planning and drawings and concept study, I decided to make the whole structure by using a mixture of wood and PVC pipes. It took several hours of construction and painting.”2016-09-25-photo-00000008

Truly a work of art, won’t you agree! Congratulations Dhanush and team on a spectacular stage decoration that lifted this year’s Onam program a few notches, and was truly a visual treat!

 

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ANNOUNCEMENT OF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 2017

COMA Trustees are happy to announce the following appointments for the 2017 Executive Committee. Please join us in congratulating and thanking this team for coming forward to take COMA’s stewardship.

President: Ajayan Janardanan
Vice President: Naushad Pasha
Treasurer: Anup Janardanan
Secretary: Sindhu Rajagopal
Jt. Secretary: Austin Pereira
Agent: Sathiaprakash Tayathil
Auditor: Rajiv Thomas
In addition, Arunkumar Radhakrishnan and Julie Thomas will be joining as Trustees for the term 2017-2010, backfilling for Maya Achen and Hari Narayanaswamy who are completing their terms as Trustees.
The nomination and election of the above were executed through an unanimous decision of the Trustees in the absence of nominations from the members.
VIPANCHIKA MUSICAL PROGRAM
Music event for Salil Nair organized by the Vipanchika Team

Vipanchika team is organizing a music event for Salil Nair on Oct 2nd at Abbey Theater from 2 pm to 6pm. Details to follow

YUVA VARTHAKKAL
A summer of road trips- By Joshua Abraham (Grade 6)
img_2965This has been the summer of road trips for me and my family. As soon as school was out, we went to Kentucky for my cousin’s high school graduation. We got to see the Corvette museum there! Awesome! I’ve told my dad, that I’m getting a Corvette when I grow up. Then we went to Michigan with our friends. After that we went to Dallas for my Uncle’s birthday. In Dallas, I got to go to Dealey Plaza (where John F Kennedy was assassinated ). The 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository has been converted into a museum now. It outlines the events leading up to the assassination and the Warren Commission’s finding and conclusion on this assassination. On the way to and from Dallas we stopped at Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. I got to see Graceland, home of Elvis, in Memphis and the life sized replica of the Parthenon in Nashville.

My parents said we need to go to Wisconsin too for my cousin’s baptism before summer is out. So this is most definitely the summer of road trips for us! I guess it’s a good thing, since my sister Rachael and I don’t get into many fights anymore, huh?

I think I’m going to share my experiences in Michigan for this article. We did very many things, like driving a Jeep over sand dunes, swimming, fishing, go-karting. All this while hanging out with our friends.

img_2962First we went for a nice long walk on the dunes. The sand was so fine and clean, there was nothing in it besides sand and… more sand! On another dune, we saw the word, ‘Jesus’ written on the side of the hill. The grownups made us race each other on the sand – let me tell you, running in the sand is not easy. Your foot sinks in and you can’t move as quickly as you think you can.

The sunset tour we went for on the Jeep Wrangler was really cool. My dad drove the Jeep, taking it up and down dunes that were 100 feet high. He got to do some crazy driving over it. After we drove around for an hour, we stopped to see the sunset. The sky was purple and orange with bits of blue in it. It was a magnificent sight! We should all stop to see the sunset sometimes.

img_2963The next day we went fishing. My younger cousins had smaller fishing rods and hooks while everyone else had the professional looking fishing rods but they caught the most fish! I think they got around 15 fish between the 2 of them while I got just one. But it’s ok, we all had fun doing it and I got go hold a live fish. It felt a little slimy and a bit like plastic. I went to show my mom and my aunts but they did not want the fish anywhere near them. They were more interested in swinging from the hammock and relaxing and chatting.

Later that day, we all went to Lake Michigan for a nice swim. I was surprised when I saw the lake. It is huge; I could not see the other end from any of the sides. Not many people wanted to get into the water because it was very cold. Clean but cold! At the beach my friend and I were able to drive my RC car on the sand. The cool part was the wheel got stuck and when you pulled the trigger on the remote all the way back, the back wheel on the car would shoot sand at least 3 feet into the car! This was exactly like my dad and the other uncles were driving over the sand dunes.

We also went go-karting before we came back from Michigan. It was a lot of fun – I think I came in 5th place. My cousin Aly got first place. At one point she rammed into me (deliberately, I’m sure) and I accidently removed my foot of the gas pedal.

That was my trip to Michigan. It was fun and definitely worth the drive. I spent time with my family and got to hang out with my cousins and friends. Definitely an experience I won’t forget anytime soon. I hope we all get to go again. My sister Rachael says she had fun at the beach too. She enjoyed making sand castles on the lake. Her favorite part of the trip was when the grownups turned her into a sand mermaid on the beach.

Road trips are definitely fun, especially when you get to see a lot of really cool stuff and spend time with cousins and friends!!

PACHAKAM
White Chocolate Blondies- By Lakshmi Menon

img_2952-28 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan. Melt white chocolate and butter on the top of a double boiler, over barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs until foamy. With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in the melted white chocolate mixture. Combine the flour and salt; fold into the white chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Fold in chocolate chips and almonds. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

Tips: Use good quality chocolate. You can replace almonds with cranberries.

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