On Saturday, January 20th, 2018, for the fifth time in a row Los Angeles Telugu Association (LATA) has organized a one-of-a-kind signature Sankranthi Mela celebrations at Centinela Performing Arts Center Lawndale CA. This mini Telugu national conference type event brought a nostalgic feeling to audience about how they celebrate Sankranthi in their childhood. Parents visiting from India were immersed with joy seeing the enthusiasm and Telugu culture flourishing in US, far away from the motherland.
Close to 2000 people attended from all corners of Los Angeles. With around 175 volunteers and close to 365 participants the Mela created a festive atmosphere. Mela kicked off at the outdoor stage by Sameer Bhavanibatla. Starting with the traditional Telugu sit down lunch. The outdoor Mela included LATA signature Chekka-Bhajana and Kolatam (Telugu folk dances) by LATA volunteers, outdoor stage performances, traditional dress competition (by Himaja Ponnaganti), carnival for kids, free Immigration booth (thanks to the attorney Sri Nadadur Kumar garu) free health checkup booth by Smt. Lakshmi Chimata garu, Henna, Face-painting stalls and Indian dress and Jewelry shopping etc. The flamboyant Media point setup by AAA decorations and Sankranthi muggulu by volunteers was a huge hit for the families to take pictures. Torrance Mayor Patrick J. Furey presented gifts to traditional dress competition winners, and appreciated LATA for its efforts.
After dinner, the performances moved to indoor auditorium. Jyothi Prajwalana was performed by Smt Vijaya Vedulla garu and Sri Radha Krishna garu. Sri Surya Damodara and Smt. Swetha Kakarala rocked the staged by doing MC. Adults and kids alike came out to the stage and made the evening memorable with their elaborate props, dances, skits, comedy acts etc. The local Telugu talent of Los Angeles was stepped up their exceptional high quality performances in a grand fashion. Several parents lauded the efforts of LATA to encourage local talents, and creating this remarkable platform.
Sankranti is also called “Harvest Festival” and at LATA Sankranti event, the importance of farmer and their plight was remembered. Gifts were given to the winners of Vantalu Potilu (Cookery competition), Muggulu Potilu (Floor art), Saahithi Potilu. Mementos were presented to PMP training instructors and coordinators. Lunch and dinner was sponsored by Dosa Place, Tustin.
Tilak Kadiyala introduced New LATA Executive Committee, President Hari Madala, Vice President Chakravarthy Kavuri, Secretary Srihari Atluri, Joint Secretary Sweta Kakarala, Treasurer Surya Damodar, and Joint Treasurer Chinna Irava. Srihari thanked the unabated support from the volunteers who worked tirelessly several weeks leading up to the Mela, and all day from 8 AM to midnight. Without volunteers’ efforts this event would not have happened. LATA also thanked the audience, performers, parents, donors, supporters and Lawndale High School for providing the facility.
The event concluded with the Indian and American national anthems.