LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Shivaji Maharaj America Parivaar celebrated the anniversary of the coronation (Rajyabhishek) ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on June 20 with 500 people from over 20 countries attending the video conference and Facebook Live forum.

The highlight was the keynote speech by Francois Gautier, the renowned author and journalist. French by birth, Gautier is now dedicated to building the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum in Pune, according to a press release. In his talk, he compared the leadership styles of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Maratha leader. Gautier said he was puzzled as to why Shivaji Maharaj was not as well-known as other European leaders and declared it was time for Indians to elevate his stature to the international stage. He recalled from his childhood that Napoleonic history was included in all textbooks.

Napoleon, he said, had tried to unite Europe and his vision seems to be coming through centuries later through the Eurozone, one currency and other initiatives. 

Gautier described Shivaji Maharaj as a "yogi warrior" with a tremendous sense of intuition of the future. He too united peoples to preserve culture and stop the atrocities of invaders. He said people need to understand and spread the true values represented by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and other leaders. 

The event began with an “Abhishek” performed in Los Angeles to a statue of Shivaji Maharaj, the roar of Shivgarjana by youngsters in Atlanta, and an audio-visual presentation to honor Prithviraj Chauhan, Maharana Pratap Singh, Raja Krishnadevaraya, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Rani Laxmibai and others.

Vijay Patil, Indian American founder of SMAP, described the significance of the coronation ceremony as the “victory of the people and success of a merit-based society where there was liberty, equality and justice for all.” He said the mission of the organization was to spread unity and leadership through lessons learned from the life of Shivaji Maharaj. Toward this, SMAP would strive to build a global network of leaders, he said. He introduced SMAP leaders from other parts of the world, including France, Canada, the UK, Kenya, Malaysia and China. 

Bharat Saoji spoke of the endorsements SMAP has received including from the governor of Georgia and chief ministers of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Nitesh Patel, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of La Palma, attended and introduced the keynote speaker. Sujatha Padmanabham was the event moderator.

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