Major Telugu convention set to open in New Jersey

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New York, Jul 1 (UNI) New Jersey Governor Jon S Corzine, Congressman Frank Pallone, New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, Union Minister D Purandareswari and several ministers from Andhra Pradesh will be among the dignitaries attending the American Telugu Association (ATA) convention, scheduled to open on July 3.

The three-day convention will open at the sprawling Prudential Center in Newark in neighboring New Jersey, It is expected to attract nearly 10,000 participants, convener Balaram Pammi told UNI in an interview.

''Former president A P J Abdul Kalam is most likely to be present at the inauguration,'' the convener said, adding that only the final approval was awaited.

''Among other VVIPs we have invited was the Chief Minister, Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.'' Even if the chief minister is unable to be present among the conventioneers, his message will be relayed live via a satellite link on Friday morning, when the convention will formally be inaugurated.

On July 3, the first day of the convention, there will be a banquet at which a number of awards will be given to those who have excelled in public service both in the US and India, particularly Andhra Pradesh.

''Though there will be performers and singers from India, the US-based Telugu talent will be among in the 75 per cent of the programmes at the convention,'' Pammi explained and stressed that the organisation has done some work in inculcating the language and culture among the second- and third-generation Indians.

''There will be a number of youth (under-20) talent search contests in order to encourage younger Indian Americans.'' Several Indian-American linguistic groups organise conventions during the July 4 long weekend. Some groups hold the gatherings every year while others get together biennially.

Telugus gather every year and this year's convention is being organised under the auspices of the ATA, an umbrella body. Telugu Association of North America (TANA), another umbrella organization, is holding its next convention over the July 4 weekend (2009) in Chicago.

While the star attraction will be the presence of NTR Junior, Allu Arjun and Charmee, spiritual advice will be given by Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami. Pammi said confirmation messages from various others were still being received.

Sessions on business and commerce will form part of the convention as India-America relations in these fields are growing. Food, clothing and ornaments that are special to the state of Andhra Pradesh will be available on the occasion. Food will be tantalizing with delicacies from different regions of Andhra Pradesh, Pammi noted.

About 3 million Indians live in the United States. There are no precise figures for Telugus, though some estimate the number is between 400,000 and half a million. The first major batch of Telugus, who arrived in the US in late 1960s and early 1970s, comprised mostly engineers and doctors.

UNI XC ARB AS1514

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