Bigyani Das

Ajeya Jatra (Unstoppable Journey) – OSA 2017 Convention in the Cruise (June 30th-July 2nd)

Dear Friends
It happened! The ritual of OSA Annual Convention, the yearly gathering of OSA member families to mingle and celebrate their culture and togetherness in the adopted land, all happened. The convention was unconventional, different and had a distinct flavor. There was no rush to anything, no parallel programs, no line for food, no stress to anybody, for anything. Those 49 families that came together for this adventure, to experience the newness, the unknown, had great time together, starting from registration in front of Spotlight Lounge in 6th floor on June 30th to inauguration in the Orpheum Theater, and Antakshyari and Mehefil in the conference hall on July 2nd night.
There was a mix of everything, OSA Got Talent show, Champu, Channda, Odissi, Subrina Biswal Performing Arts Competition, Odia Vocabulary and Speech, Inauguration, Mehefil, Bhajan, Poetry Reading, Women’s Forum, GBM, Pramode Pattanaik Inter-Chapter Drama and some extra flavor of a trip to Cococay Beach and OSA picnic in Nirvana Beach, Bahamas.
The cruise ship was huge, a luxurious hotel in the middle of the ocean, with artistic floor designs, impressive large dinning halls, swimming pool and theater halls. Registration started at 6 PM on June 30th in front of the Spotlight Lounge on the 6th floor. OSA families arrived at different times, collected their “Seapass” cards and had delicious lunch in the 9th floor dinning hall (Windjammer Marketplace). After checking in to their rooms and resting , they gathered in front of the Spotlight Lounge, some standing and exchanging greetings, some sitting being relaxed and enjoying the blue ocean from the glass windows. The cruise ship was moving. It was a marvelous scene to watch.
Formal welcome and “OSA Got Talent” program started at 6:30 in the Spotlight Lounge. The children performed perfectly with some unique choreographies with fusion Odia songs and Hindi Songs, with energy, vigor and charisma. Champu, Chhanda, Odissi (CCO) started after the “OSA Got Talent” program and the children showed their superb talent again. All the OSA members were present in one room, together, for these performances. OSA executives shared information about visit to Cococay Island next day and the timing information for  next day’s activities. Everybody enjoyed the dinner in their own way. Some went to formal sitting in “My Fair Lady” dinning hall and some chose to have the freedom of food choices out of more than 100 international items in the 9th floor dinning hall.
Members gathered in the Spotlight Lounge in the early morning of July 1st at 7:00 AM for bhajan. There were no harmoniums or Tabla. However, people had carried small musical instruments such as Jhanja, Khanjani and Ghungura to create creative musical accompaniment and interlude. Also, there was karaoke music available from and with internet privilege.
After the bhajan program, “Womens Forum” started. The topic was on the role of spouses in complementing the passion and completing the fulfillment ambitions (dampatya jibanara paripurakata). Many women participated in this forum talking about their life’s stories. It included stories that are personal and yet universal to most of the Odia families.
OSA families then went to explore Cococay Beach. There were boats that were making 10-minute trips to Cococay Beach from the ship. People enjoyed swimming, roaming around, parasailing, snorkeling and taking pictures. Lunch was arranged by the cruise and included more than 50 varieties of food. Many members enjoyed the food there and some returned to the cruise ship to have lunch in 9th floor dinning hall.
Forma OSA Inauguration started at 1:30 PM in Orpheum Theater on the 5th floor. The Theater was luxurious with balconies and special chairs and light effects. The deities Lord Jagannath, Blabhadra and Subhadra were installed on the stage and were decorated.  OSA officials invited the senior members of the community that were in the cruise to light the lamp. After the formal introduction and the National Anthem singing, Dr Sitakantha Dash was invited to speak as the chief guest. His speech was brief, and yet powerful. His rise to powerful position in the Government and success with the business was an example of perseverance and will power. OSA annual souvenir “Urmi – ଊର୍ମି” was released/inaugurated.
Inaugural  Odissi dance was presented by Ipsita Satpathy. It was “Madhurastakam” dance presented beautifully. Other dance/programs were presented by Washington DC chapter (chaka-chaka bhauri) and Michigan chapter (bara-masare tera paraba). After the dances, Pramode Pattnaik Inter-chapter dramas were presented. Two chapters, Washington DC chapter and Ohio Chapter participated. Washington DC chapter’s drama was entitled “Ama Paribara” and it was based on the story line of family’s transformation in this technological age. Ohio chapter’s drama was entitled “Make Odisha Great Again”. It was based on the election debate of two candidates running for the chief minister position of Odisha.
Everybody enjoyed these two comedy dramas.
The inauguration program ended at 4 PM and members went to explore the cruise events on their own. Some went to have snacks and tea and some went to move around decks on their own.
Everybody again gathered in Spotlight Lounge to have group picture sessions. After the group pictures, Odia Vocabulary and Speech event were held. Subrina Biswal Performing Arts competition started after the Odia Vocabulary and Speech event. It had those unique creativity again. The “Jagannatha Astakam” singing by two brothers captivated the audience. Mehefil started after the Subrina Biswal award performances. Mehefil ended at 8:30 PM and members went for formal dinner. After the dinner it was freetime for everybody to enjoy on their own, in the comedy show in the Orpheum Theater, in music and  dances in the 4th floor or relax in the swimming pool or walk in the deck.
On July 2nd morning the ship reached Bahamas. After early breakfast, people got ready to go to the Nirvana Beach for the picnic. The picnic was arranged by the Bahamas OSA families. OSA past vice-president Dhirendra Kar joined those families in organizing this memorable picnic. It was hot, yet there was a lot of enthusiasm.  Prasanta Kumar Bhuyan organized the poetry reading event there. Members read original poems as well as poems such as “Mangale Aila Usha”, “Ei Amari Gaan” and “Chhota Mora GaanTi”.  Sambalpuri “Rangabati” song was in the air and there was the dance presentation by our OSA members. Sudden rain was no way of affecting the spirit of these Rangabati dancers.
Group pictures were taken at the beach after lunch and everybody left the beach at 2:00 PM to come back to the cruise ship. People took rest. After afternoon snacks and tea everybody again came to the conference room for the GBM and the award ceremony. The children that participated in various events collected their award certificates. OSA executives Sushant Satpathy, Sulochana Patnaik, Saradakanta Panda and Siddharth Behera presented their reports. New executives took charge and the convention in Michigan was announced. Among new OSA officials, president Lalatendu Mohanty and secretary Amar Senapati were present and they addressed the members for their cooperation in continuing the good that OSA is doing and in adding new innovative flavors. Michigan chapter members invited everybody to the 2018 convention next year.
Congratulations to the new OSA officials (2017-2019) Lalatendu Mohanty, Sushil Panda, Amar Senapati. and Sachi Pati.  
OSA GBM was adjourned at 8:30 PM and everybody left for dinner. After dinner, some went to the shops, some took pictures, some collected pictures that were taken by the cruise staff, some attended the comedy show event of the ship and a few music lovers gathered in the conference hall for “Antakshari” and Mehefil “.  There were two groups and both groups were powerful. It was a draw after about one and half hours of this singing exercise. A few were still interested to stay for Mehefil. The Mehefil continued until midnight.
On July 3rd morning, the ship reached Miami Beach Cruise Port. Everybody was assigned a departure time. Members got up in the morning to have morning walk in the deck, have pictures of the sunrise and have breakfast before getting off the ship. Some members met to chat during the breakfast.
The cruise convention is over. It created the lasting memory of those that attended. We missed many of our friends that we normally meet every year during the convention. However, one cannot get everything together. To get something, some other things have to be sacrificed.
Thanks to OSA 2015-2017 officials Sushant Satpathy, Sulochana Patnaik, Saradakanta Panda and Siddharth Behera for organizing this wonderful convention irrespective of the obstacles we faced this years as none of the chapters volunteered to organize 2017 convention. OSA Annual Convention tradition is the “Ajeya Jatra – ଅଜେୟ ଯାତ୍ରା” (unstoppable journey) that must be maintained irrespective of any obstacles. Kudos to all the attendees of OSA 2017 Annual Convention in the Cruise, for being a part of this “Ajeya Jatra – ଅଜେୟ ଯାତ୍ରା“. It would have been impossible without you.
Note: Detail reports of the individual programs will be provided by the individual program leads.
Dr Bigyani Das
Dayton, Maryland