Great revolutionary and freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai’s Birth Anniversary was celebrated in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Expatriate group GOOD (Global Odias for Odisha’s Development) organized the 213th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Veer Surendra Sai in Dubai yesterday (23rd January – the day he was born, back in the year 1809).
This is only the second time Veer Surendra Sai’s Birth Anniversary has been celebrated outside India. GOOD members also celebrated it for the first time in 2020.
A symbolic and commemorative function was organized, strictly adhering to specific regulations set by local authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because of the stringent guidelines of hosting one person per four square meters of venue space, the number of people attending the event was deliberately kept low and it was organized in an outdoor setting.
This year’s celebrations had an speical attraction – The presence of Eminent Emirati Singer Yasser Habib as the Chief Guest. Yasser Habib is a popular singer and a citizen of the UAE. He became an instant sensation among the Indian diaspora when his version of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite Bhajan – ‘Vaishnava Jana To’ was released on Gandhi Jayanti (2nd October, 2019) to mark the 150th Birth Anniversary of ‘Father of the Nation’.
The function started with the traditional lamp lighting ceremony when the inaugural lamp was lit the Chief Guest Mr. Yasser Habib. All participants then paid floral tributes to the legendary freedom fighter.
Yasser Habib said that he was very happy to be a part of such a unique celebration. He was amazed to hear of Veer Surendra Sai’s 37 years in captivity and compared it to that of Nelson Mandela who spent about 27 years in prison. He offered his help and wanted to contribute to the spread of Veer Surendra Sai’s legacy across the globe. This was very much appreciated by participants.
A display of Veer Surendra Sai’s valor, bravery and heroism followed soon after his address.
Audiovisual presentations on Veer Surendra Sai’s life and times were made. Memorable occasions like his first rebellion (when was only 18 years old), his escape from Hazaribagh Jail and subsequent leadership of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny in the Central Part of India were mentioned. The highlight of the evening was the special video address by Padmashree Haldhar Nag. Shri Nag in his video address expressed his happiness that National Hero Veer Surendra Sai’s Birth Anniversary was being observed in a far-off land like Dubai. He congratulated the organizers on this effort and sent his best wishes. An electrifying atmosphere was created when Shri Nag recited the last verse of his great poetic work ‘Sundar Sai’. His unique delivery style and usage of rhyme and traditional words mesmerized the gathering. The meeting ended with the National Anthems of both India and UAE.
According to senior GOOD Member, Captain Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who is the President of a leading Shipping Company based at Dubai, such a function will always be needed to celebrate the life and times of this legendary fighter, who has always been under-rated as a freedom fighter. He inspirational legacy needs to be propagated. He stressed that GOOD will continue to thrive for more such initiatives whereby Odisha can be highlighted on the world stage.
Priyadarshee Panigrahi, General Manager with a leading a Consumer Goods Company, also from GOOD said ‘Despite the pandemic, we organized this small but symbolic celebration to ensure that tales of Veer Surendra Sai’s legacy and bravery continue to be propagated at an International level. To ensure its propagation to the world, leading Emirati Singer Yasser Habib was invited. It was wonderful to hear such nice words from him about Surendra Sai’s valor and fighting spirit. This is probably for the first time in recent memory that an eminent Non-Indian voice has spoken about Veer Surendra Sai and his exploits’.
Rajat Rath, Finance Manager with a leading Telecom Company, also a founding member of GOOD, re-emphasized on the strong need to collect all relevant information and papers available today, on Veer Surendra Sai. Many important documents and records of his life continue to languish in the archives of the neighboring states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. An effort to collate, restore and preserve them is needed.
Global Odias for Odisha’s Development (GOOD) is a group comprising of Expatriate Odias. Among other things, it seeks to propagate Odisha’s culture, tourism and commerce at a global level, thereby enhancing her profile on the world stage. GOOD aims to act as a ‘Brand Ambassador’ of Odisha and promote it globally.
GOOD was at the forefront of an International Campaign to restore air connectivity to the newly established Veer Surendra Sai Airport at Jharsuguda. GOOD had also undertaken efforts to popularize Nuakhai at a Global level. Last year GOOD had organized the first-ever celebrations of Veer Surendra Sai’s Birth Anniversary on Foreign Soil.