By Chandana Nayak Shenoy
Pics: Ramesh Kamath, Naren Bhat, Dr Narayan Nayak
Daijiworld Media Network
Jun 15: We are all social beings and most of us are part of community or hobby groups, and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals irrespective of where we live and what we do for a living.
Naturally, this need to connect is heightened when one moves to a new place. Ask any expatriate and I’m sure they’ll agree with this statement!
This was one of the primary reasons that led to the founding of the Konkani Association of California (KAOCA (www.kaoca.org)) in December 1984. Situated in the Bay Area, KAOCA aims to provide a platform and forum for Konkanis in the region to gather as a community, develop a support system, and to preserve Konkani culture.
For an association which was started with the participation of 45 families, KAOCA has come a long way and today boasts of more than 250 families under its wing.
In 2009, KAOCA celebrated its silver jubilee with day long events and authentic Konkani cuisine with 25 dishes—one for each year!
Founders : Ramesh and Pratibha Kamath
Ramesh and Pratibha Kamath were the founder presidents of KAOCA and were actively supported by V P and Kumuda Shenoy as well as Anand and Padma Savoor. The president's term is for one year and no one can run for a second term.
“The committee is selected by the president who is chosen basically on a voluntary basis and everyone gets a chance. The youth have taken over the leadership this year under the presidency of Ananth and Sulatha Prabhu”, says Ramesh.
KAOCA typically has three main annual events—Yugadi, a picnic, and a Deepavali programme.
“Occasionally, we have additional events like a sports day and a field trip—to Yosemite, Lake Shasta, or Lake Tahoe”, says Ramesh.
“The leadership is planning on a couple of additional events—classical music hosting a renowned musician and ‘Dandiya’ during Navarathri”, said current president Ananth.
KAOCA has also actively supported the two national Konkani conventions hosted in the Bay Area. The first one in 1998 was attended by about 900 Konkanis from around the world. Vivek and Gita Pai were at the helm of KAOCA during this time.
The highlight of the event was classical music by Ajit Kadkade and a debate with Dinesh D’Souza. The chief guest was Sadhana Kamat. Konkani music, play, and dance were presented as part of the convention. Authentic Konkani cuisine was served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on both days of the event.
The second convention took place in 2008 and had 1,400 attendees. K V Kamath of ICICI, was the keynote speaker. Badminton player Prakash Padukone was the chief guest and Jaya Rao was another speaker who participated. Eknath and Shanthi Pai were the KAOCA presidents at the time of the event.
A medical symposium was held with Dr Hegde from Manipal as one of the speakers. Classical music by Mahesh Kale and western fusion music by Prasanna added melody to the convention showcasing Konkani life, music and culture.
KAOCA also has a newsletter called ‘Panchadik’ which is normally published three or four times a year.