K.P. National camp held at Big-Bear Lake, California

Events & Community Members in news
From Big Bear Lake, CA (USA), July 6th 27, 2008
K.P. National camp held at Big-Bear Lake resort California

The First ever Annual Camp of Kashmiri Pandits was held from July 4-6, 2008 at the Big Bear Lake, in San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Kashmiri Pandits from all over came together to celebrate the July fourth weekend and connect with their compatriots. While camps and get-togethers among respective Kashmiri Pandit communities have occurred before, this was the first time that so many KPs in west congregated at one place, in the salubrious San Bernardino Mountains, to share stories about their Himalayan abode.
This nostalgia-fest commenced with invocations and introductions on Friday evening and was sustained by almost non-stop activities involving everybody, from the two year toddlers to great grand parents; kid painters,paino players and trumpet players, cricket diehards and Antakhshari aficionados were everywhere. Renowned Kashmiri Pandit singer Mr. Rajendra Kachroo flew in from New Delhi for attending these celebrations. This weekend was a celebration of freedom, but it was also the celebration of a people with roots that lay in 6000 year old history in the lap of Western Himalayas in the Kashmir Valley. For a community that has lost its ancestral moorings to terror and fanaticism this camp rekindled a sense of 'belonging'.

The second day of the camp (Saturday) started with yoga and meditation followed by a forum discussion on how best to preserve and advance the Kashmiri Pandit heritage. The general theme in almost all the presentations the focus was on the American born Kashmiri Pandit youth to maintain and further enrich our glorious heritage and culture. It is they who need to draw from the riches of their past ancestry and carry centuries-old Shivist beliefs of freedom and self introspection beyond rituals and fanaticism to practice and prosperity, spiritually and materially.

This camp had been planned around thinking and talking about Kashmiri pandit culture, music, and Kashmiri Pandit life in general; light-hearted takes on life in the valley, complete with a humorous skit depicting the reactions of an old parent visiting their daughter in the USA. While disco and dancing kept the attendees company till late in the night with contributions from local singers and dancers, it was Rajender Kachroo who kept the audience rapturous and engaged with Bhajans and Kashmiri folk music all through, every evening.

As if to satisfy the nostalgia of the yesteryear and give the campers a reflective moment to connect and reminisce about where they came from, the boat ('Donga') ride in the Big Bear Lake, for about two hundred attendees was the highlight of this weekend. A large spacious boat, known as the 'Donga' in Kashmiri, is laced with historical trappings. A 'Donga' ride, complete with culinary extravagance and musical entertainment used to be one big outing for Kashmiri Pandit families in the pristine waters of Dal lake and Vetasta (Jehlum) river of the Kashmir valley. The boat ride on the magnificent sun lit shimmering waters of the Big Bear Lake was a flight of fantasy, a reminder of the majestic Harmukh and the sprawling lakes in the Kashmir valley, where a large number of the Kashmiri Pandit Californians spend their childhood.

A lot of thought, effort and California philanthropy made this event magical and memorable. The participants were already enquiring about the next July fourth camp in the middle of coastal California that will be convenient to even larger number of Kashmiri Pandits.More than twenty families came forward to form the volunteer team for 2009 KP camp. The camp ended on Sunday morning with a breakfast and with promises of reinvigorated hope and optimism

Amrit Nehru & Rajeev Sumbly
for KP National Camp team

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Nice to see the wonderful video presentation. We wish we would have been there to enjoy these momorable moments.
Added By Ashok Bhat
What a show? Could not stop seeing the video again and again.
Added By Meena Kaul
We thoroughly enjoyed the video. Can only wonder how much fun it would have been to be there. Congratulations and Thanks
Added By Vijay Trisal
Very nice videos. Can you please send me the file.
Added By Sanjay Kaul
Very well done. Keep it up California.
Added By Vijay Dhar
We appreciate the arrangements made to make this Camp a success. It will remain in our memories forever.The videos and pictures are also great and it was nice to see it on newspaper. Great work.
Added By Meena Magal
Namaskar Maharah, Thank you for posting the pictures & videos. We would certainly not like to miss next years camp.
Added By Anupama Kaul
That was an amazing effort. Great slide show. Thanks for all the efforts it must have taken.
Added By Arti Bambroo
A good show. All the themes touched . One feels that he is in Kashmir itself.
Added By Chander M. Bhatt