By – Meenakshi Mahadevan
The seventh edition of the All Australia Marathi Sammelan (AAMS) 2016 was recently held in Melbourne between March 25 and March 27 2016. This event, held once every three years between Sydney and Melbourne alternatively saw a massive audience of at least 1000 people on each of the 3 days. And according to the organisers, this year’s event was by far the most successful among all editions be it in size, grandeur or participation.
The three-day gala festival marked the who’s who of Maharashtra in attendance and saw personalities cutting across various platforms perform on the stage. Among the most known faces were son of Magsaysay Award winner and social worker Dr Prakash Amte, renowned Marathi actor Sharad Ponkshe, famous sculptor Shrikant Deodhar, Dr. Vijay Bhatkar and many more.
The function also had the blessings of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was on the list of invitees as well, but couldn’t make it because of other issues. However, a video recorded message of the Chief Minister was played at the Sammelan. According to Abhijit Bhide, the organiser of AAMS 2016, The objective of the convention was two-fold. Firstly, to gather the community in one place to not just celebrate with fun and dance but to also showcase the Maratha culture to preserve the roots here in Australia. Secondly and more importantly, The AAMS wants to be instrumental in doing something beneficial towards the society. And that was the reason that the present drought situation in Maharashtra was discussed on a large level during the convention. “We don’t want to just come, sit, dance, have fun and go. We want to make a difference. We have discussed even after The AMMS and we are now in the implementing stage. We are seriously considering adopting a drought-hit village either ourselves, or join hands with an organisation that is on ground trying to make a difference,” says Abhijiy Bhide. “One more important aspect of The AAMS was the involvement of the youth in not just the programs but also in volunteering. We want to keep our tradition and culture alive even in our 4th generation. We keep telling them to not forget their roots. We are all joining hands now to try and bring our Maharashtra out of the struggle” he added.
The AMMS also had several cultural events with award winning theatre and dance groups performing. “I would say this was our biggest and best show yet,” said Abhijit Bhide and confirmed the next convention would be held in Sydney in 2019.