Puttur: Kannada Sangha Bahrain’s ambitious Kannada Bhavana (Home of Kannada) building was officially opened on Friday morning at an impressive ceremony. The world’s first Kannada Bhavana outside of India was opened by His Excellency Piyush Srivastava, Ambassador of India to Bahrain, K Jayaprakash Hegde, Chairman, Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission, and Varghese Kurian, Chairman, VKL Hodings & Namal Group.
The dream project of Kannadigas in Bahrain, the four-storey Kannada Bhavana was constructed in Manama at a cost of BD500,000 and comprises a multi-purpose hall, a fully-fledged library, six smaller halls, meeting rooms, office spaces and shopping areas at the mezzanine floor. Various halls and facilities were opened by guests of honour and donors including Dr Mahesh Joshi, President, Kannada Saahitya Parishattu; Manu Baligar, Ex-President of Kannada Saahitya Parishattu , Dr Arathi Krishna, Former Vice Chairman, NRK Forum Karnataka; Vishweshwar Bhat, Editor-in-Chief, Vishwavaani newspaper; Ravi Hegde, Editor-in-Chief, Kannada Prabha and Suvarna News; Girish Rao Hatwar, writer and journalist; V K Rajasekharan Pillai, Chairman, National Group of Companies; Mohandev Alva, President -Akhila Karnataka Makkal Koota; Anand Bhat, Businessman, Bangalore; K G Baburajan, Chairman and MD, BKG Holding, Bahrain, Qatar & Oman; Vakawady Praveen Shetty, Chairman, Fortune Group of Hotels, UAE; Naveen D Shetty, Managing Director, AUMA Middle East; Susheela Muthayya Shetty, and Naveen Kumar Shetty, Riffa, Bahrain.
It was an emotional and full-filling moment for the Kannadigas of Bahrain who had waited for 14 years for the project to be completed, having overcome various challenges including the Covid and its impact. Later in the evening, a felicitation and cultural programme were held at the Grand Ambassador Hall of Diplomat Radisson Blue hotel.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Guest His Excellency Piyush Srivastava, Ambassador of India to Bahrain, congratulated the Kannada community on the inauguration of the Bhavana. He praised the Sangha, its Executive Committee members and all associated with the construction of the Bhavana for providing the community and the larger Indian diaspora with a new cultural hub. He also hailed the support the Indian expatriate community is receiving from the Rulers and authorities in Bahrain. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai and B S Yeddiyurappa, Former Chief Minister, who were expected to attend the inaugural event but were unable due to various reasons, congratulated the Bahrain Kannada Community, the Executive committee led by Pradeep Shetty and Kiran Upadhyaya on the historic achievement in their virtual messages.
Presiding over the event, attended by over 1,000 Kannadigas, Kannada Sangha President Pradeep Shetty said despite the various challenges Sangha has been able to build the project due to the determination of its members and the support of donors. “This is a historic and proud moment for all Kannadigas of Bahrain as our long-cherished dream is being fulfilled,” said Shetty. He thanked the donors, including the Karnataka state government, Kannada Sahitya Parishattu and several individuals and organisations in Bahrain and India.
He made a special mention of Varghese Kurian, who took up the work of the second phase of the project without receiving any payment upfront. He also hailed the support from Dr Arathi Krishna, Vishweshwar Bhat, and Ravi Hegde. He said the Bhavana will become a hub of activities soon and it will be a Kannada centre for the whole of Gulf region. With the opening of the Kannada Bhavana, the Sangha aims to provide enhanced facilities for its members and the Kannada community in Bahrain.
It also aims to be a hub of cultural, heritage, educational, sports and entertainment activities for the community and a centre of cultural relations between Bahrain and Karnataka, he said. Guest of Honour Yusuf Lori, Director, Information and follow up, Capital Governorate, Kingdom of Bahrain, congratulated the members of the Kannada Sangha on the inauguration of the new building. He also appreciated the support of the Sangha in the charity activities of the governorate.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Arathi Krishna hailed the support the project received from both Kannadigas and other community members for the project. Vishweshwar Bhat reminded the audience and Bahrain Kannadigas that the Bhavana has been achieved after a long struggle and it’s essential to be reminded of the struggle so the joy becomes two-fold. He also stressed the need to support Kannadigas living outside Karnataka by the government. Ravi Hegde congratulated the Kannada community of Bahrain and said the media of Karnataka will take up the causes of Gulf NRIs and allot more space for their issues. Congratulating the Kannada community of Bahrain, Jayaprakash Hegde vowed to provide all help for the Kannadigas of Bahrain back home.
Vakawady Praveen Shetty, Dr Mahesh Joshi, Manu Baligar and Girish Rao Hatwar also spoke on the occasion. V K Rajasekharan Pillai, Mohandev Alva, Anand Bhat, K G Baburajan, Naveen D Shetty, Susheela Muthayya Shetty, Naveen Kumar Shetty, Austin Santhosh, Bhavana Building Committee Chairman, Amarnath Rai, Fund-raising Committee President, and D Ramesh, Kannada Sangha Bahrain Vice-President, were also on the dais. Donors and members who had contributed to the success of the project were honoured at the function.
Sangha President Pradeep Shetty and General Secretary Kiran Upadhyaya received standing ovation from the audience for their untiring efforts in making the Bhavana project come to fruition. The event also included various entertainment events. Kiran Upadhyay, General Secretary of the Sangha, anchored the event with Deepak Pejawar, Sandhya Pai and Poornima Jagdeesh supporting him.