Reminiscing on some of the memories from Vindhya’s longest serving member who was instrumental for obtaining recognition of tax-exempt status for the organization, shared a few memorable milestones in the fifty-year history of Vindhya Cultural Association:
In 1972, Natarajan [Nat] Ramachandran, the first President of Vindhya, was instrumental in the formation of Vindhya. My understanding is that people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh attended the first ever Vindhya gathering. To the extent the Vindhya Range of mountains has been the historic dividing line between North and South India, it didn’t take that long for them to realize that it would be most appropriate to name their association “Vindhya Cultural Association.”
My first exposure to Vindhya was in late 1978. Thanks to my sister, Hema Ramachandran, I took part (my debut) in a ”Theruk-koothu” (roughly translated, it means, “street dance”) at Vindhya’s Deepavali Celebrations. There were few other amateurs showing off their talents in singing and dancing. We all had good fun, not to mention great food.
During the 1980's, Vindhya, in addition to celebrating Pongal/Sankranti festival, summer picnics, Deepavali festival and Christmas, was also screening Tamil movies from time to time. Vindhya used to rent movie 16mm reels from New Jersey, used a rental projector, and projected the movies on the wall. For the most part, the movies were held at Buckeye Village Recreation Hall. Intermissions were designated time to enjoy samosas, coffee, tea, and soft drinks. When VHS tapes became more popular in the early nineties, movies in 16mm disappeared.
Up until 1983, family or individual membership for Vindhya was $3 per year. Students were welcome to make voluntary contributions. Back then, Vindhya had about 30 members and had very little money. Much to the chagrin of many, the family membership was later raised to $5 per year. Vindhya membership grew to about 70 in the 80s and later rose to over 110 in the 90s.
In 1983, Vindhya arranged a Carnatic vocal music concert by Shri T.N. Sheshagopalan accompanied by Shri S.D. Sridhar on violin and Shri S. Rajarao on mridangam at the Ohio Union Conference theater at The Ohio State University. This event attracted many Carnatic music lovers.
In 1984, Vindhya started the Annual Purandaradasa and Tyagaraja Music Festival. The first annual Music Festival was held in The Wellington High School in Upper Arlington. Over 500 people attended the festival despite the sub-zero temperature in the month of January. The highlights of this festival were also telecast in the local community channel. The annual Music Festival has been the major crowd pulling event for Vindhya.
In 1994, for the first time in Central Ohio, Vindhya arranged a musical extravaganza by the late Dr. S.P. Balasubramanian accompanied by his sister, S.P. Shailaja, with the world-famous Drums Mani and associate musicians from India. It was held in Mershon Auditorium at the Wexner Center. This event attracted over 500 people from all over Ohio. This event put Vindhya on par with other big cities like Chicago and New York.
In 1997, Vindhya reached yet another milestone when it celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
In 1999, Vindhya, in cooperation with Columbus Tamil Sangam, arranged for a group dance feature, “Bharathanjali'' presented by Nrityakalamandiram and choreographed by Ms. B. Bhanumati, from Bangalore, India. Also in 1999, for the first time in its history, Vindhya received grants of over $1,000 from the Ohio Arts Council, for the Bharathanjali program and the annual Music Festival, to help promote South-Indian cultural activities in Central Ohio.
In 2008, Vindhya reached two major milestones in its history. First, Vindhya celebrated its 25th anniversary of the Music Festival. Also, Vindhya also became a tax-exempt charitable organization under section 501[c]. This paved the way for patrons to make tax-deductible contributions to Vindhya.
In 2009, Vindhya received yet another grant of nearly $1,400 from the Ohio Arts Council, for the annual Music Festival.
With so many volunteers and well wishers, Vindhya Cultural Association has come a long way.