Formation of HAA: Havyakas represent a sub-sect of Hindu Brahmins with roots in southern India. Over the last 30 years the number of Havyakas in north America has been growing. There is growing interest in maintaining, sharing and enriching the Havyaka cultural tradition in Americas. Accordingly, Havyaka Association of the Americas (HAA) was formed during 1982 with the aim of providing a common forum towards achieving these goals to the present and future generations. HAA is a Non-profit Organization registered in the state of New Jersy, USA. ( #0100163931; and EIN # 22-2401975)
Governing Body and Members: The operational governing body consists of a President, General Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Committee and Youth Committee. Initially there were three major geographical chapters of HAA namely: East Coast, Midwest & West-Coast. Respective Vice Presidents organize each chapter activities.
Expansion into sub-chapters: During 1997, twelve more sub-chapters with respective VPs were formed to facilitate better interactions among Havyaka families located within a smaller regional level. Now we have 15 chapters across north America.These included New England (Boston Area, Rochester-Buffalo- NY area), Pittsburgh (East PA,West Virginia-Ohio, Carolinas), Florida, Atlanta (Including Tennesse/ GA area), Kansas (including Missouri-Iowa area), Huston/Texas area, Arkansas (including Arizona), Northwest (Seattle-Oregon area), Southern CA (Bay area, Los Angeles-San Diego area), and Canada -East. This concept was further expanded during 2003 by adding two more sub-chapters in Washington DC-Virginia area and Detroit/Michigan area. In 2014 Minnesota Chapter has started covering twin cities and nearby cities.
Communication: Since inception of HAA, US mail or telephone have been the modes of communication between the office bearers and members of HAA. These aspects involved significant time and effort from the office bearers to maintain and update the postal address directory of the members, making paper copies of the notices and of course including the cost of mailing. To take advantage of the electronic era, since 1994 a formal havyaka newsletter served as an electronic medium to communicate among havyakas about various activities. In addition, during 1998 havyaka@yahoogroups was established to facilitate an informal exchange of constructive ideas between interested havyakas. During 1999 bi-annual convention, a proposal to form a havyaka web page was put forward. Subsequently, the web site www.havyak.com was created during year 2000 to enhance interaction between havyakas world wide. Since the beginning of 2002, the majority of communications has been through e-mails to the members, either directly from the governing body, or through the chapter vice presidents and importantly with the help of all the members. New website, havyak.org, was created and membership database and communication channels are improved in 2014.
Youth Leaders/Co-leaders: To bring forward the youth havyakas with leadership roles in the community activities, one or more Youth Leader/Co-leader (s) positions were created. The goal is to give more opportunities for the youngsters to come up with new ideas while, the chapter VPs can serve as mentors during organizing various activities of HAA at regional level.
Chapter Meetings: Every chapter conducts local meetings/get together quarterly, around the Hindu/Havyaka festivals namely, Ugadi, Chuthi, Navarathri and Deepavali that are hosted generously by one of the havyaka families. After a traditional Pooja and Prayer ceremony, delicious havyaka food is being served as a pot-luc lunch. Youth are informed about the significance and rituals of such festivals. In addition, informal cultural activities are presented to bring forward and educate the youngsters. Such an event would conclude with discussions on HAA business and Charity issues. In addition, during summer time, an annual picnic is organized to enhance social interactions along with various types of sports activities including the popular cricket matches.
Bi-Annual Conventions: HAA organizes a Bi-annual American Continent level convention, and participation by international havyakas is being encouraged. Generally this is a two-day event with overnight stay that is filled with many cultural, social and sport activities. The important aspects of such convention is to bring together havyakas of Americas, to enhance network as well as to present various talents and achievements of all. During the convention of 2001, a HAA logo was selected. Youth interest and leadership oriented activities were given major emphasis in 10th Bi-annual convention of year 2003. Accordingly, youth were brought to the forefront by including several Youth-Speaker presentations as a part of the opening ceremony of the convention. To present glimpses of our cultural heritage to the present generation havyakas, Yakshagana performances were included during 1999 and 2003 conventions in addition to other types of classical music and dances of India.
Souvenir and Photo-Directory: As a part of each convention a souvenir book and updated havyaka directory are published. Many havyaks including youth have been contributing creative and interesting articles or poems of diverse topics or experiences in Kannada and English. During 2001, the Photo-Directory enhanced the souvenir content. This feature was expanded in 2003, with a new section called “Havyaka Achievement Showcase” that highlighted various accomplishments or contributions of many youth and adult havyakas excelling in diverse fields of their passion or profession. In addition, another section called “Havyaka Art Gallery” was introduced to present artistic capacity of havyakas.
Spiritual and Cultural activities: The Hindu spiritual activities that were performed during havyaka events included Poojas, Chanting of Shlokas of Vedas or verses of Bhagavatgitha, Bhajans or Yoga practices/demonstrations by youth and adults. Cultural performances contained Kannada or Havyaka traditional/folk songs and dances, Indian or Western vocal and instrumental classical or pop music, Bharathanatyam or Kuchupudi type classical dances as well as Yakshagana, the dance drama of Karnataka. In addition to these, the association has provided encouragements and support to the cultural performances of guest talented artists of our heritage from India.
Charity and Contributions: Over several years HAA members have been contributing to the community they came from and to the community they live in. During 2003 convention-business session, a policy/guideline for charity contributions was presented and got approved. Good discussions were carried out to support our Matt Sawmiji’s efforts in uniting and enhancing havyaka community contributions in India.
Havyakas have demonstrated their intellectual capacity in diverse fields including but not limited to Basic sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Internet Technology, Business, and Law. They strive to achieve higher standards. By excelling in these fields they have contributed significantly in their specialty and have been well appreciated recognition by the society.
Executive Committee or Advisory Board: Every two years, HAA gives opportunity to its interested members to take leadership role as one of the office bearers of the organization. When the new leaders take the responsibility, it could be challenging. To help in this process, a permanent, experienced advisory group has been installed so that the group can be approached as needed by the new office bearers. This can enable the organization to maintain and implement effectively the fundamental principles, values and mission of the organization. Accordingly during year 2003, the “HAA Advisory Board” was formed. It consists of interested former presidents of HAA, who have been actively participating in various HAA activities and conventions during the recent past years, as well as who have gained broader experience and knowledge in coordinating the HAA activities. The membership is voluntary, and a president after the term can chose to be a part of the advisory board. The scope of the board will be to advise or guide the governing body during transitions or as needed, and will have no direct role in the operation of the organization year over year.
Web Committee: A HAA web committee was formed during 2003 to share the increasing responsibility of communication and to make the web a resourceful site to havyakas with special emphasis on youth. With this goal, several enhancements are made that include, but not limited to, in providing information to the interested havyakas about HAA Mission, Organization, Office bearers, Historical perspectives, Havyaka Achievements, links to other Havyak/Hindu/Student organizations, Youth Opportunities, Havyaka /Professional Networks, Matrimonial, Charity Policy, world wide interaction through yahoo groups etc.
To Publish, Archive and Preserve: Initiatives have been taken to publish, archive and preserve intellectual capacity of havyakas through establishing a monthly or quarterly “Journal of Havyaka Association of Americas”. The goal is to enhance a creative and productive interactions between youth and all havyakas of our community through a common electronic publication. In addition, it can highlight the past and present intellectual contributions by havyakas to the society in general. Such publication of a community of diverse expertise and interest can enrich and preserve our creative minds for the benefit of current and future generations.
(Reference: Article by Ramachandra K. Bhat entitled “Havyaka association of the Americas”. Eighth Bi-Annual Convention of HAA Souvenir, p.14-15, ed. Nagaraj K. Neerchal) and by Bheem Bhat, Madiyala, December 07, 2003