Saturday 1 February 2020


When a few like-minded Veterans assemble and bond together on a National Day, the euphoria created by them is bound to be priceless. It happened at 6pm on 26th Jan 2020 at Immaculate School, Borivali(West), where about 15 Naval Veteran couples converged to celebrate 71st Republic Day and pay their third Anniv homage to the ‘Amar Jawan’ monument,  resurrected by Veteran Lt Shreekant Bhende.

         Lt Bhende shifted to this location 7 yrs ago and noticed a dilapidated old statue peeping through the tall grass and plants on a traffic island, with its helmet missing and the gun in tatters. A pathetic sight it was and an insult to martyrs. Lt Bhende decided to restore its glory. But getting the requisite permission through the maze of municipal bureaucracy was a difficult task. He approached the municipal Commissioner who verbally approved the request to erect the ‘Amar Jawan’ monument. Lt Bhende then restored this monument by durable weather-resistant FRP, that had been his lifeline for 22 yrs after his retirement. The monument was finally erected by Lt Bhende,  and inaugurated by RAdm RM Bhatia, President NFMC, in the presence of  RAdm  S Mahindru (FOMA), Cdr Vijay Vadhera, then Secy of the Foundation ( now President) and other Veterans of the Navy on 30 Apr 2017, three yrs ago.


      Last year on 26 Jan,  20 Naval couples got together at the ‘Amar jawan’ Monument to lay a wreath on the monument, followed by the sounding of the ‘Last Post’ as a homage to our martyrs and a minute of Silence. Subsequently, a gettogether was prearranged at the lawns of the Immaculate School. The Corporator could not  join the festivities due to his preoccupation, but that did not dampen the spirit of the Veterans, as after the Wreath Laying by Col Unni Chandra Shekhar, Mrs Verma and Cdr KK Kutty, all Veterans assembled at the glowing decorated lawns for a scintillating evening of Gala, where the MC  Cdr Raj Dutta after recounting his motivational story, enthused each and everyone present to share episodes of their service careers. Capt RS Sharma, Cdrs KK Sharma, Paranjpe, GB Singh, Alok Rastogi, KK Kutty, Peter Saldhana, M Hadish, Shukla, Midha, Vishnu Gaonkar,  Col Unni and Dr Bela Verma very enthusiastically narrated events of their glorious past with elan. We engrossingly listened to Mrs Bangar’s interesting courtship day tales with her late husband Cmde Bangar. A few ladies even sang a few melodious songs of the bygone era to create a nostalgic aura. Lt Bhende recounted his association with Late VAdm MP Awati, followed by a few more officers recounting episodes with Late Adms Ronnie L Pereira, MP Awati and other senior officers that they served with. A Fauji brat, Ms Priya Singh(an Airhostess in Qatar Airways)  and her friend who were passing by during the wreath-laying, gladly joined our festivities. She was highly appreciative of the Veterans contribution to our nation.

         A sumptuous dinner culminated the festivities with a firm resolve of even greater participation of Veterans at the same location, for the Independence Day later this year.  Jai Hind.

REPUBLIC  DAY - 2020  

         Having celebrated the 2nd Anniv of Amar jawan on 26th Jan 2019 in a befitting manner of wreath laying and a get-together of Veterans of North Mumbai suburbs, It was 01 Sep last year when Lt Shrikant Bhende formed a Whatsapp group of friends who had attended the last gathering, with intent of adding a few more for next Anniv. He put out the programme on Whatsapp and that got us, like-minded friends on the same wicket.

       The evening commenced as the Veterans, Ladies and Veer Naris converged at the Veranda of St Mary’s Immaculate. Amongst the fortunate ones to be a part of the celebrations organised by Lt Shrikant Bhende were Veer Naris, Mrs Nirmala Samant, Mrs Kashibai Kori and Dr Shreelatha Bangar. Although LtCdr Rajeshwari Kori was late to join us due to her Sailing Regatta, her freelance Journalist friend Ms Jaishree Laxmikant was well in time to cover the event. She has put up a descriptive Report in Wordpress.

     The assemblage came down to the ‘Amar Jawan’ Monument for wreath-laying. The Wreaths were laid by Mrs Nirmala Samant (Veer Nari of Capt MN Samant, MVC), young officers of INS Hamla on behalf of CO Hamla, Lt Srikant Bhende on behalf of President and members of NFMC and the last wreath was laid by Cdr RS Sharma. The Last post was then played as all present saluted. Meena captured the moments in her DSLR.

     On completion of the Wreath Laying, we all relocated to the well-lit and decorated School Lawns, where elaborate seating arrangement had been made along with BABA, the DJ with his equipment. Just as the veterans were interacting with the soft drink of choice being served, Raj took to the Mic and after a brief introduction requested Lt Srikant Bhende to enlighten the guests on the genesis of Amar Jawan. Lt Bhende brought out how he negotiated the municipal bureaucracy and restored the glory of the monument at the School trijunction. Raj then narrated an episode of his service and anchored the proceedings. Cdr RS Sharma, Cdr Paranjpe, Lt Bhende, Cdr Michael Coutinho, Dr Shreelatha Bangar and Cdr Kutty narrated eventful episodes from their times in Service while Mrs Paranjpe and Mrs Kashibai Kori sang melodious songs to make the evening sonorous and festive. All of these are captured and placed in the youtube link below.

             The Indian cuisine served was delectable emanating rich aroma. Dessert of sweet Gaajar halwa was the topping that was relished by each one.              It was a great evening indeed, much more fascinating and sensational than depicted by the pictures below, snapped by NFMC photographer Meena Dutt.

        We hailed and conveyed our felicitations to Lt & Mrs Srikant Bhende for the fantabulous evening that he had planned and executed in a magnificent style.       The tradition of Amar Jawan Celebrations shall continue every 26th Jan forever. 

Shano Varuna … Jai Hind.

PS- The blog would not have been complete sans the wonderful photography videography my Meena Dutt.



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