A message from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi and delightful cultural shows marked a three-day meet of the Indian Tamil community of North America here.
Poetry, debates, folk music and dances were the highlights of the annual convention of the Tamil Sangam of North America that saw around 1,300 delegates taking part.
The 19th convention of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) was held July 1-3 at the Manhattan Convention Center, New York.
Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss inaugurated the conference and read out a special message from Karunanidhi. Ramadoss lauded the Tamil community for its accomplishments.
He said he was proud that they had preserved the Tamil language and culture in a land far away from home.
On the eve of the convention, a reception was organised at the Indian consulate here to welcome the dignitaries and special guests.
Consul General Neelam Deo said: "I would like the Tamil community here to preserve the language... We are willing to help them with language classes."
The consulate conducts Hindi classes in association with the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
Actor-politician Sarath Kumar was chief guest. He attended the convention with his wife Radhika, a veteran actress.
Sarath Kumar participated in an interactive session for youths and another for business people. Many young Tamils living in the US sought his advice on entering the south Indian film industry.
"You are all very creative and I will encourage you to come to India and look for acting opportunities - if you can speak Tamil," the actor said.
He spoke to entrepreneurs on opportunities in the business process outsourcing industry in Tamil Nadu and answered questions.
Several people from the entertainment industry flew from India for the Star Night July 2.
Veteran singer Vani Jayaram was the lead singer accompanied by Harish Ragavendra and Mathangi. A New York-based orchestra headed by singer Michael provided live background music for the singers.
Philosopher Arivoli, poet Vairamuthu (who gave the keynote speech), folk musician Vijayalakshmi Navaneetha Krishnan, and actors Swathi, Vinodhini, Devi Priya and Manikandan were among the celebrities.
Maintaining the protocol of honouring achievers during similar Indian American conventions, FeTNA presented plaques to several members of the community.
Noted actress and dancer Padmini Ramachandran was awarded the lifetime achievement award for promoting culture, particularly Bharatanatyam dance, in the US.
New Jersey is where the danseuse has lived since she moved to the US. Ratepayer Advocate Seema Singh presented the proclamation on behalf of state Governor Jon Corzine.
MN Krishnan, Jagadeesan Poola and N Rathnam were also honoured with lifetime achievement awards. Next year, the convention will take place in North Carolina.