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The Nagarathar Sangam of North America‘s (NSNA) most anticipated event, the National Retreat, was held in Trenton, New Jersey on July 2-4, 2011. The sixth biennial retreat was held in all festivities, glitter, and glamour with a record number of nearly 1200 attendees.

The mammoth task of planning and executing an event of this magnitude was

As you navigate your way to the venue your attention is immediately drawn to the

by annamalai natarajan, nj

dining halls were adorned with posters portraying our rich Chettinad heritage and culture. There were also posters on Nagarathar villages, Nagarathar history, and a poster on ‗how to identify Nagarathars‘. Each dining table had a kottan planted with peacock feathers

coordinated by Laks Meyappan, the Retreat Committee Chair along with his team and a platoon of volunteers of all ages from across the Greater New York region.

The team meticulously planned the intricacies of the event since their first meeting in December 2009. Needless to say the team has put in countless hours into this event since then to make the event a grand success! This is evident from the comment of Mr. Somalai Somasundarn, PA, who has previous experience organizing an event of this scale:

“There is no doubt that this retreat was organized very well.” —Mr. Somalay Somasundaram, PA

The venue for this event was the Trenton War Memorial located on the banks of the historic Delaware River. The Memorial originally constructed in 1932 was renovated and restored in 1999. The cultural events took place in the Patriots Theater, an Italian Renaissance Revival splendor, which has a seating capacity of 1,807.


War Memorial entrance. Our Nagarathars made the 20-foot giant pillars that adorn the Memorial entrance pale out and hide behind their colorful saris, salwars, churidhars, dhotis, kurtas, and shirts. You could see our achis and chettiars greeting their known ones, chatting with their friends and relatives, and posing for the wonderful Kodak moments. Our young nagarathars are no exceptions—the upcoming generation was spotted happily playing with their newly found friends and cousins. No doubt, the environment gave you a sense of ease and homecoming to many Nagarathars.

in rice along with an egg plant.

As the registered number of guests far exceeded the capacity of any hotel in the Trenton area, our guests were put up in two hotels. Marriott at Trenton was a stone‘s throw from the War Memorial and Elements at Ewing was a 20 minute drive. Shuttle buses were arranged to pick up and drop off guests to and from the Ewing location.

Walking up the stairs to the Memorial entrance, to the left were the purple shirt youth committee volunteers and to the right was the registration desk. It hardly took two minutes to have your credentials verified, to get your id cards and goody bag! Adjacent to the Registration Desk was the Membership Committee cheerfully handing out flyers.

When you step into the hallway you feel welcomed with a statue of Lord Ganesha

and kuthuvilakku. The

This event would not have been possible without the most generous contributions of our diamond, gold, and silver sponsors. Nagarathars across the regions have voluntarily signed up for these sponsorships. For a more comprehensive list of sponsors please

visit or the list can be found in the retreat souvenir.

The cultural

performances kicked off with a prayer song, followed by welcome speeches from the retreat committee chair,

September 2011

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