Juginder and Dolly Luthra, Well-Known to Patrika Readers, are Moving to New Jersey


By Kollengode S. and Prema Venkataraman

Juginder and Dolly Luthra, long-time residents of Weirton, WV and well-known to  Patrika readers and the Indian diaspora here, are moving to New Jersey, to be close to their daughters and grandkids, in their retirement. This is a trend among Indians in their autumn years.

“There is a pang of sadness in leaving the community,” said Dolly Luthra wistfully, continuing “even as we are happy to look forward to spending more time with our grandkids.”

Dolly recalled arriving in Pittsburgh over four decades ago with their 6-week-old twin daughters in a bassinet and another 4-year-old daughter in tow. They settled in Weirton WV to start their practice in healthcare — Juginder in ophthalmology and Dolly in dentistry.

They raised their daughters and took part in social and cultural events around the city, as is usual in Indian communities everywhere. Soon they went beyond just participation. Living in Weirton close to the Greater Pittsburgh Indian diaspora, they were the patrons supporting Indian classical traditions of music, dance and performing arts.

Weirton in its heydays of the Mighty Steel starting in the early 20th century, attracted immigrants from all over Europe to run the thriving steel industry. The city organized an annual Festival of Nations in Spring to highlight the culture of the many immigrants. But this festival ended in 1948, after the end of WW II.

When Weirton revived the Festival of Nations in 2009, Juginder introduced Indian folk and classical dances in the festival to highlight the new immigrants from India settling in Weirton. He dipped into the resources available in Pittsburgh and enriched the Festival of Nations to include many dance traditions from Asia. Nandini Mandal wrote a story on this. (www.tinyurl.com/Luthras-Story-by-Mandal)

Both Dolly and Juginder are also well known for their artistic talents outside the narrow confines of their professions. Dolly acted in dramas. Juginder was the main lead in a 15-minute short movie titled Sunflower about getting old, directed by Ferris Rosati. Many of Juginder’s friends would recall his singing ghazal/shairis and other genres of Hindi songs.

The Luthras coauthored poems in the Pittsburgh Patrika. Juginder also authored poignant articles in the Patrika on his childhood as a Partition Child, when Juginder’s parents moved to India with their young kids leaving everything they had in Pakistan.

When we approached the Luthras to feature a story on Saroj Bahl, and her efforts to set up the India Nationality Room at the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland., they readily responded to our request. The Luthras talked extensively to Saroj and her husband Mohinder Bahl on this topic. Their fascinating account of how the Nationality Room came into being culminated in an article in the Patrika in 2009.

Similarly, they talked to Nandini Mandal in 2018 on her journey in Indian dance traditions through her challenging health situations (www.tinyurl.com/Luthras-on-NandiniMandal).

Making their marks in their professions and giving back to their communities (Weirton and Pittsburgh), while sharing their love of literature and the performing arts, Dolly and Juginder enriched the lives of people in our area that they called home for four decades.

We are sure they will be active on matters that interest them in New Jersey as well.  Surely, we expect and anticipate that they will continue to use the Patrika as a platform for sharing with readers their poems and essays in the coming months and years. Please join us in wishing the Luthras good health and happiness in their new place, spending their times with their daughters and grandkids.

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