BERNARDS TWP., - Children of all ages gathered together at the auditorium of Oak Street Elementary School on January 21st to take part in their first ever Hindi poetry contest orchestrated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, founder of the Basking Ridge Hindi School, and several volunteers.

Mayor John Carpenter was in attendance and marked its inception with a few encouraging words: “In the old days, when I grew up here, the thought that there would be a Hindi poetry contest in the auditorium at Oak Street Elementary School on Sunday morning would’ve been completely unbelievable. This is really fantastic, and I applaud you for it.”

Students across Basking Ridge had spent weeks perfecting their poems in preparation for the big stage this Sunday. Mr. Carpenter said he found it remarkable to watch these children recite their poems in Hindi with great passion and enthusiasm, as many of these students had not spoken much Hindi a few months ago.

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Dr. Gupta remarked, “I was absolutely amazed to see all these children perform and wonderfully recite their poems in front of a large audience. I want to congratulate every single student and their parents for showing such great devotion to the Hindi language and culture. It is truly wonderful.”

The top four contestants in each of the three levels advanced to the semifinal stage, and they will be competing with students from other Hindi schools from the tri-state area on February 25, 2018 in East Brunswick.

This is not only a milestone for the Basking Ridge Hindi School, but a milestone for the community as a whole. While Basking Ridge residents are constantly commuting and engrossed in their work, it is easy to forget about their native cultures. For many, it has become difficult to effectively converse with grandparents, uncles, and aunts because of a significant language barrier. Basking Ridge Hindi School was established last year as a school dedicated to teaching youth the Hindi language and culture to alleviate this regular impediment.

From the beginning of the school year, students have been attending Hindi classes every Friday from 7-8:30 PM at William Annin Middle School. Not only are students mastering Hindi, but parents are being reminded of the Hindu culture they once grew up in, and families in Basking Ridge are able to engage in more meaningful conversations with their loved ones.

All of this would not have been possible without the aid of the nonprofit organization HindiUSA, the parent organization of the Basking Ridge Hindi School. There are over twenty Hindi schools across the tri-state area run by HindiUSA and is a completely volunteer-based organization. All teachers are volunteers who support the initiative to spread the Hindi language and culture across the United States. It is absolutely beautiful to witness the many different cultures flourish in our diverse community and to see Basking Ridge families using their cultures as a means to express themselves with their family across the globe.