Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz proclaimed November 1, 2022, as Kerala State Formation Day. Reading out the official proclamation signed by the state Governor, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan upheld the contributions of Malayalees in the state in the fields of medicine, engineering, research, politics, law, language, and culture, along with economic and social welfare. The proclamation was a result of the contributions made by the Minnesota Malayalee Association (MMA) for the past 20 years since its inception is 2002.
This proclamation was made as part of the Kerala Day celebrations organized by MMA. Speaking on the occasion, MMA President Manoj Prabhu outlined that MMA’s mission is to empower both Malayalees and Minnesota community-at-large towards a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community. “This proclamation and recognition from the state government will help to help further strengthen the operations of MMA”, he said, emphasizing the role MMA Had been playing to promote the Kerala culture in the state of Minnesota.
Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan was the Chief Guest. Other guests of honor included Minnesota House speaker, Melissa Hortman, Philanthropist Dr. Sita Kanta Dash, Eminent Malayalam actress and Dancer Divyaa Unni. Eden Prairie mayor Ron Case, Eden Prairie city council member and prominent Malayalee community leader PG Narayanan, and prominent community leader Godan Namboodiripad, Eminent historian Ram Gada, as well as recipient of India Association of Minnesota’s person of the year award, Hitesh Patel.
During the occasion, MMA Vice President Kavitha Thomas remembered the contributions by previous MMA boards. MMA Secretary Sajith Padmaja talked about the Oral History project conducted by MMA in association with Minnesota Historical Society. Oral history project is a series of interviews with early immigrants from Kerala to Minnesota. Previous board members as well as Oral History project participants were honored on stage. Current MMA board members Renju Mathew, Sujith Kurup, Fazel Haris, Smitha Shoney, Roshan Abraham, Ria Mathew,Veena Tharayil and Sowmya Gopinathan led the festivities that followed.
Sumptuous Kerala food, rarely available in Twin Cities restaurants were served throughout the day. The crowd comprising of approximately 1000 plus Minnesotans found the Kerala food a delicious experience.
Kerala Day celebrations was marked by a variety of cultural programs. The highlight of the program was a mesmerizing Bharatanatyam performance by eminent actress and classical dancer Divyaa Unni. Other cultural performances included classical music by Sudha Sivaram and team, Kerala art forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattom, Oppana, Margam Kali, Thiruvathirakkali, Sinkari melam and a musical extravaganza. Also, there was Theatrical presentation of ‘Saketham,’ a 3-Act play written by the Malayalam playwright C N Sreekantan Nair based on the most dramatic two days of Ramayana.
Play was brilliantly adapted to English by Leena Philip & Jude Rajan Directed by Narayan GI and lead actors included Cyril Thomas, Chithra Binoy and Sarada Ganesh. The days’ events concluded with a scintillating fashion show directed by Sona Nair with 90 plus artists on stage.
Photos by Photo Journalist & Fine Arts photographer Dr Sunny Augustine.