Editor's Note

Samarpan’s editorial team is pleased to share the first quarter newsletter of 2024 with our readers.

We are looking forward to publishing new contributions from our readers. Thank you!!

Newsletter Team

Subhankar Bhattacharya | Abhinga Dutta | Unni Gopinathan | Jyothi Gubili | Ram Kadirvel | Nisha Kurup | Alka Mehra | Anu Nair | Priya Sampathkumar | Ajay Singh | Namrata Tomer

Table of Contents

President's Message

Since the Last Newsletter

  • Ramnagari Ayodhya
  • Saraswati Pooja
  • Social ICE 2024
  • Rochester Hindi School - INDIA DAY

Upcoming Events

Youth Scape

  • My Volunteering Experience in High School
  • Harnessing the Power of AI
  • Teen Power: The Surprising Might of Adolescent Economics

Rochester Through My Lens

  • Winter Wonderland


  • Patishapta

President's Message

Dear Community Members,

Namaste !

According to Hindu calendar new year is celebrated around this time; so, I will start by wishing you a very happy new year. This happens to be our first newsletter of 2024 as well.

Beginning of this year all of our board members met in person to plan dates for major events in 2024. ICAM Utsav 2024 is on for July 20th, Garba dance on Oct 4th and Diwali cultural program on Oct 26th. Please save the dates, more details will follow. We received Cultural Expression Grant of $25K from MN State of Arts to support us to bring professional artists from India to take the Garba and Diwali cultural events to the next level.

ICAM continues to work on our mission by making connections, communicating information and collaborating with partners to make a difference in our community . As part of the process to continue to run ICAM in a professional manner, we completed our second board election process at the end of 2023. Thanks to the board members who are continuing to devote their time and energy to ICAM. Some board members are going to finish their term at the end of 2024; so I request volunteers who are already helping ICAM in some capacity or other to step up and take up leadership roles, and reach out to me on how to become a board member.

Hindi school is continuing to grow. The Number of students has increased which means more work for volunteers. We deeply appreciate all the challenging work teachers are doing to make the Hindi school very successful. The World Language Proficiency Certificates and Seals assessment that is now offered by Rochester public schools will also be available to Hindi school students. Hindi school also organized India day to celebrate Republic Day on Jan 27th, 2024; it was great to see the excitement of students in participating and showing their talents.

As a part of continuing to work to expand our partnerships, we will be working with Olmstead County to promote summer education & jobs for students. We are in the process of partnering with other organizations to organize a blood drive sometime in spring this year.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support; this organization cannot run without you. Please visit our website, icamn.org and subscribe to our mailing list for more information and to become an ICAM member for 2024. The membership fee is a small amount to support our organization; in return you are getting many benefits

Best wishes,

Ajay Singh, President, ICAM Board

Upcoming Events

Since Last Newsletter

Ramnagari Ayodhya

Kanchan Srivastava

Ayodhya is an ancient city situated on the banks of Saryu River in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, about 7 km away from Faizabad, which is now renamed as the Ayodhya district. Faizabad is my mother's birthplace and Ayodhya lies just east of Faizabad in south central Uttar Pradesh. We used to go there in our summer vacation between the years 1960 – 1970.  We visited Ayodhya and saw the old Ram mandir, Seeta rasoi, Hanuman Garhi, Kanak Bhavan, Guptar Ghat, and many more. My cherished memories are renewed with the recently constructed Lord Ram Mandir which symbolizes my spiritual journey that began with my childhood visits to Ayodhya. The pranpratishtha ceremony, during which an idol of a deity is installed at a sacred place like a temple, was a journey back to my roots and an affirmation of the enduring legacy of Lord Ram in my life.

Historical reports, local folklore, and excavations done by Archeological survey of India tell us that back in 16th century, during the rule of the Mughal emperor Babar, a mosque which was later called Babri Masjid, was built over a preexisting temple site.  This led to hundreds of years of constant tension, which, together with political motivations, disputes, and faith of the general public, finally resulted in the demolition of the mosque on December 6th, 1992. Since then, several legal processes took place, and on November 9th of 2019, the Supreme Court of India gave a landmark verdict, ordering the transfer of land to a Trust, to be set up by the Indian government for the construction of Ram Mandir. 

Designed by Mr. Chandrakanta B. Sompura and his son Ashish, the temple stands on 2.7acre of land. It measures 380 feet in length, 250 feet in width, and 161 feet in height. It is supported by 392 pillars and has 44 doors. The mandir is three storied, with each floor being 20 feet tall. Around 20,700 large blocks of granite rock, 32,800 blocks of sandstone, and 7000 blocks of marble certified by a scientist of the National Institute of Rock Mechanics (NIRM) are used. The temple has various facilities for pilgrims, including accommodation, dining halls, and other entities. Spiritual places for prayer, meditation, and introspection are separately built. Crafted with meticulous attention to details, the temple design draws inspiration from the ancient Indian architectural style of Nagara and Dravidian. After the entrance, a big Mandapam lies outside the temple. After that, many small mandapas are built, followed by the main sanctum santorum or Garbhagriha which houses the idols of Sri Ram in his princely attire, his consort Sita, his loyal devotee Hanuman, and brothers Laxman and Bharat. Surrounding the central shrine are intricately carved pillars, with scenes of the Ramayana and other Hindu Epics.

Mysore based Sculptor Arun Yogiraj has chiseled Lord Rama’s (known as Ram Lalla in local folklore) Idol. He used a 140-million-year-old rock, also called Shaligram, which is considered a representation of Lord Vishnu. Due to its color, it is called Krishna Shila. It is 51 inches long, with five-year-old Ram Lalla showing all his charm, innocence, and divine grace. It is adorned with traditional attire and ornaments with a bow and arrow, which symbolizes his future as a valiant warrior and protector of righteousness.

Mr. Ganeshwar Shastri Dravid, an astronomer from Varanasi, decided the muhurat (auspicious time) for the Shilanyas (foundation) of Ram Mandir, which took place on the 5th of August, 2020. For Pranpratishtha, he gave the 22nd of January, between the Abhijit muhurat from 12:16 pm - 12:59 pm time. The ceremony, which was performed on Dwadashi (the 12th day of the lunar month in the Hindu calendar), involves the purification of the idol with holy water, chants, mantras, and hymns. Paush maas (the 10th month of the Hindu calendar, which is considered auspicious), with Ashwin (shukla paksha, or bright fortnight), was the time and was the Mesh lagna (auspicious moment) when Guru Brahaspati was in full power. At the time of Pranpratishtha, the Indra yog, Sarwarth siddhi yog, Ravi yog, and Amrit siddhi yog were there throughout the day (yogs are auspicious moments).

The assessment of the date was based on astronomy, numerology and panchang (Hindu calendar), making it a wonderful historical day. The current deadline for the completion of the temple is December 2024. From the16th to 20th of January, all rituals were done by a team of Vedic priests led by Pandit Laxmi Kant Dixit. Pandit Sunil Shastri offered all prayers, mantras, and hymns for the Pranpratishtha. 

The prime minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, performed all the ceremonies under the guidance of Pandit Sunil Shastri. The sacred ceremony was performed amidst an aura of spirituality, with traditional rituals and prayers from the Vedic hymns. Mr. Narendra Modi performed the first Arti, after offering 56 kinds of food offerings and the consecration of the temple. Thousands of people witnessed the grand ceremony broadcasted on giant screens outside the temple and telecasted worldwide. The whole atmosphere was filled with chanting of “Jai Sri Ram.”

As a symbol of faith, heritage, cultural identity and divine grace, the Ram Mandir stands as an enduring legacy of Lord Rama and his noble teachings that continue to inspire generations.

Jai Sri Ram.

Saraswati Pooja

Vaibhavi Nawale

“Knowledge is the supreme deity, a principle we shall follow and foster in all our endeavors.”

Whenever we hear this Sanskrit quote “Goddess Saraswati” comes to our mind. She is the Hindu Goddess of knowledge, wisdom, intellect, speech, learning, music, and art. Hindu belief describes two types of knowledge : the “lower” knowledge, which is the understanding of the phenomenal world, and the “higher” or spiritual knowledge, which is knowledge of the “Supreme Self” (atman) beyond duality. Goddess Saraswati is the perfect depiction of these two knowledges. 

Saraswati Pooja is especially celebrated in Vasant Panchami on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Magha of the Indian lunar calendar. It is believed to be the time when Saraswati was born. Vasant Panchami is a festival of Hindus that marks the beginning of preparations for the Spring season. Vasant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holi, which occurs forty days later. The season and festival also celebrates the agricultural fields' ripening with yellow flowers of mustard crop, which Hindus associate with Saraswati's favorite color.

In Rochester, Saraswati Pooja is observed every year with devotion and divinity. Celebrating such festivals help us stay connected to our roots and pass on our great heritage to the next generation. Vasant Panchami/Saraswati pooja was celebrated in Hindu Samaj Temple Minnesota, Rochester on Feb 13th 2024 with Goddess Saraswati Abhishekam, followed by Aarti and prasad distribution in the presence of Indian community members. Another Saraswati Pooja was hosted by Bengali Community of Rochester on Feb 17th, 2024 to seek Mata Saraswati’s blessings. Everyone participated in Pooja making prayers, chanting mantras and preparing delicious food. The devotees enjoyed authentic homemade food of Bengal after pooja. In order to honor the Goddess of art and music, the pooja is concluded with cultural programs. Kids and adults showed their love and passion towards the arts by singing songs and performing graceful dances.  

Devi Saraswati is associated with the acquisition and propagation of all kinds of learning and knowledge including academics, music, arts, sciences, crafts, and spiritual learning. Her divine energy fuels imagination, innovation, and artistic expression. She is believed to awaken dormant talents, inspire originality, and infuse creativity into various forms of artistic endeavors. In learning and education Devi Saraswati is revered as the patron goddess of education. Saraswati is commonly identified with the throat chakra (5th) known as Vishuddha. The throat chakra is ruled by ether * and responsible for speech, truth, purification, sound, mantra, voice, authenticity, and self-expression through word and silence.

Saraswati Pooja celebration gives us a zeal to welcome spring. The festival celebration with friends and family from diverse cultures helps to build a stronger Indian community in the United States.

*ether : The element of nature associated with throat chakra is Ether. It's all about space – the essence of emptiness in which our true selves exist.




Social ICE 2024

Namrata Tomer

Rochester's cherished cold-weather event, "SOCIAL-ICE," returned to Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester on February 23rd and 24th for its 15th year, delighting attendees with its vibrant festivities. This year's theme revolved around the seasons, featuring a diverse array of unique themed bars, each offering its own signature drink. The event also showcased full-scale ice sculptures illuminated with dazzling hues, accompanied by nightly live DJ entertainment.

Vendors embraced the theme with enthusiasm, crafting drinks and decor that reflected the essence of their chosen season. From the warmth of summer to the crispness of autumn, each bar offered a distinct experience tailored to its designated time of year.

For families, the Social-ICE FAM JAM provided a delightful afternoon celebration, featuring activities such as meeting sled dogs, playing mini-golf, trying out curling, and engaging in art projects. The event garnered a significant turnout, with the warmer weather drawing even more attendees to partake in the festivities.

If you missed out on this iconic outdoor winter party in Rochester this year, fear not! Mark your calendars for next year's edition and bring the whole family down to Peace Plaza for a day of free family fun. Capture unforgettable memories with friends and loved ones while enjoying the lively atmosphere and stunning displays.

Rochester Hindi School - INDIA DAY

Sarika Pandey

The Rochester Hindi School (RHS) successfully celebrated its annual event India Day on the occasion of Indian Republic Day. The RHS staff, volunteers, students, and their parents gathered to learn about Indian Republic Day, and its significance and kicked off the event by watching the 26th January 2024 flag hoisting and parade held at Kartavya Path in New Delhi. This was a nostalgic experience for parents and a learning moment for students. As the educational director of ICAM, this event reminded me of all the hard work my team (Shital Aranake, Shelly Goyal, Deepti Bansal, Mallika Thakur, Krupa Parmar, and Namrata Tomer) have put in to offer ongoing Hindi Language classes for school age students of Rochester community.

Some younger students represented their favorite Indian personnel, while other students made posters, and PowerPoint presentations on a topic of their choice, and each one of them spoke in Hindi in front of the audience. Our (teachers) daily efforts paid off to watch these students talk in Hindi. We enjoyed the presence of ICAM board members (Alka Mehra, Ram Kadirvel, Namrata Tomer, and Shanti Subramanian) and ICAM members who joined us!

As an ICAM board member, I have been focusing on our mission to connect, communicate, and collaborate to support the cultural and educational needs of the Asian Indian Community. I have joined a World Language Articulation Team established by Rochester Public School (RPS) representing the ICAM and RHS teams. I am elated to share about the future opportunity for our students to participate in the Bilingual Seals program in the RPS district and gain high school credit. Further details about the program can be found at the following link https://www.minnesotabilingualseals.com/home.

It has been a wonderful journey with family, friends, and community members by my side as our RHS family grew from 17 students last year to 32 students this year. The opportunity to teach our future generation a language that connects them with their roots, family, grandparents, cousins, and one another is a true blessing. This feeling of accomplishment multiplied this year when my daughter Saumya Dubey (senior at Mayo High School) joined the RHS team as a substitute teacher.

We are currently seeking volunteers for the next school year. If you are interested in teaching or assisting with our special events for our students throughout the year, please let us know. We welcome your participation and support. I will conclude with a few words of gratitude dedicated to my team of RHS staff/teachers/community volunteers and the ICAM family.

एक छोटा सा सपना लेकर, 

मैंने दोस्तों को पास बुलाया हैi

इस महानगरी में मैने, 

अपनापन पाया हैi

एक एक तिनका जोड़ कर, 

आरएचएस का छोटा सा घोसला बनाया हैi

ICAM की नीव पाकर,

इस समाज का साथ निभाया हैi

इस महानगरी में मैने, 

अपनापन पाया हैi

कभी तो सफलता की ख़ुशी से,

खुद को गद गद होता देखा हैi

कभी काम, परिवार, त्यौहार की,

अफ़रातफ़री तले बोझल होते देखा हैi

पर लक्ष्य इन बच्चों को,

हिंदी बोलते देखना हैi

सौम्या ने ये सपना सच होगा,

ये जताया हैi

एक छोटा सा सपना लेकर, 

मैंने दोस्तों को पास बुलाया हैi

इस महानगरी में मैने, 

अपनापन पाया हैi

Ek chota sa sapna lekar, 

maine dosto ko pass bulaya hai

Is mahanagri me maine 

apnaapan paaya hai

Ek ek tinka jodkar 

RHS ka chota sa ghosla banaya hai

 ICAM ki neev paakar 

is Samaaj ka saath nibhaya hai

Is mahanagri me maine 

anpanpan paaya hai

Kabhi toh safalta ki khushi se

Khud ko gad gad hota dekha hai

Kabhi kaam, parivaar, tyohaar ki

Aftratafri tale bojhal hote dekha hai

Par lakshya in bachcho ko 

Hindi bolte dekhna hai

Saumya ne ye sapna sach hoga 

ye jatayaa hai 

Ek chota sa sapna lekar, 

maine dosto ko pass bulaya hai

Is mahanagri me maine 

apnaapan paaya hai

Youth Scape

My Volunteering Experience in High School

Isha Chandra

My experience volunteering for ICAM was one that not only gave me the opportunity to give back to my community, but also empower myself in many different ways to connect with my cultural background.

Growing up as an Indian kid in Minnesota, there weren’t a lot of places where I was surrounded by a large number of the Indian community other than ICAM events. When I was younger, I remember looking at the high schoolers who MCed Diwali and the other kids who would help decorate, thinking to myself that when I was older I wanted to do that too. In both Utsav 2023 and in Hindi School’s India Day, I volunteered to help with different aspects of the events.

In Utsav 2023, I volunteered at the face painting booth, where I met many familiar faces and some new ones. It made me realize that ICAM events weren’t just for the Indian community and those who usually attend, they are also for other people to learn about Indian culture and experience a diverse environment. It gave me a new outlook on how I assumed Indian culture was perceived by others. In that moment, as a volunteer, I was part of something greater, and I felt proud to be included.

In late January, Hindi School’s India Day event took place. While I didn’t volunteer at the actual event, I made the decorations at home with my mom. She drew the outline of a dove, and for the next few hours, I traced 36 birds on blue, orange, white, and green paper to later cut out. Once we cut them out, we spread all the birds on our dining table. Seeing those patriotic birds flying in the shape of the flag made me feel part of India in a way that I had never felt before. Perhaps it was because I had played a part in making those decorations come to life, or simply because I was excited for what India Day was going to represent.

I can safely say that since that moment, yes, I am proud of my Indian heritage, no matter where I was born or raised. The volunteering experience really changed something in me. What used to be indifference became pride. Hesitance became embracement. I’m glad that the next generation of American born Indian kids have a platform to really reconnect with their culture. 

Harnessing the Power of AI

Samuel Kasper Named as a Champion in National STEM Challenge

In a world where many worry about the negative consequences of artificial intelligence, a John Adams Middle School student has been able to look through the chaos to see its benefits.

Last year, the now-14-year-old Sam Kaspar created a machine-learning model to be able to help detect the presence of pneumonia in a person’s lungs. That project has earned him the title of being one of the champions in the National STEM Challenge, hosted by the organization EXPLR.

The project started out of his own love for coding, as well as his sister’s pneumonia diagnosis.

“I wanted to combine those two interests. I put them together and created this solution,” Kaspar said. “I dove deeper into the problems with radiology and the challenges radiologists face.”

He accomplished that by finding data sets through an open-source website. Armed with that, he used the images to train the artificial intelligence to be able to tell the difference between those with and without the presence of pneumonia.

Essentially, he tailored the artificial intelligence to be able to analyze the pixels in the images, looking for similarities and differences in color and order of sequence.

In a video he created for the project, Kaspar explains that using the AI model would be much faster than the “traditional model,” minimizing wait times for patients and relieving stress for medical professionals.

He also explains the model could be expanded to process data from other diseases as well.

Once he completed the leg work over multiple months, he competed in Rochester’s regional science fair. After that, he took the project to the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair. There, he was awarded the Broadcom Foundation's Coding with Commitment Award, as well as the American Heart Association’s Community Impact Award.

But then, his science teacher told him about a national STEM challenge, which he went on to become one of the champions. Kaspar will now have the chance to take his project to Washington, D.C. and demonstrate his work.

“There, champions will showcase their projects to some of our nation's most influential leaders,” the competition’s website says.

Although still in middle school, Kaspar’s project building a computer model to detect pneumonia isn’t his first foray into the world of coding. Among other projects, he programmed a camera on a remote control car with his dad while in elementary school so it would live-stream to a smartphone screen.

But whether it's programming a race car or machine-learning models in the health care field, he's come to love the creativity behind the process.

“It’s kind of like LEGOs,” Kaspar said about coding. “You put different pieces and bits together to create a big figurine. That’s why I like it – you can be really creative.”

Looking back on his relatively small, but growing, portfolio of projects, he emphasized his gratitude to his parents, as well as his science teachers.

But he’s also been able to benefit from the help of educators beyond his home and school. According to his science teacher Deb Las, Kaspar is part of John Adam’s STEM mentoring lab, which pairs students up with volunteers from Mayo Clinic’s biomedical graduate school.

The eighth-grader is now working on a continuation of that initial project. Essentially, he’s trying to determine if the machine learning can be tailered for those without coding skills, allowing hospitals to be able to build their own machine-learning models for their own purposes.

Regardless of how that continuation of the project turns out, he's been amazed at the success he's been able to attain so far.

“I wasn’t anticipating to become a champion,” Kaspar said. “I’m excited that this project has led me to a lot of different places.”

Credit: https://www.postbulletin.com/news/local/harnessing-the-power-of-ai-rochester-middle-school-student-named-a-champion-in-national-stem-challenge

Teen Power: The Surprising Might of Adolescent Economics

Tej Bhagra

When you think about the U.S economy, you might not immediately consider the impact of teenage spending and its contributions. It is fascinating to note and maybe surprising to some that trends in teenage spending have some pretty significant effects on the country’s  economy. Let's dive into some fascinating facts and figures to really understand this impact.

The Big Picture of Teenage Spending

First off, the numbers are seriously impressive. Do you know what teenagers spend annually in the U.S.?  According to lexingtonlaw.com teenagers spent $63 billion in 2023. That's a lot of money! When you think about it, it's not just allowances or birthday money. Many teenagers have part-time jobs, and with the rise of online platforms, there are even more ways for teens to earn and spend. This money goes into a wide range of sectors, from the latest fashion trends to the newest tech gadgets, impacting these industries in a big way.

Trendsetters in the Market

Teens spending decisions have a lot of power. We're not just buying things; we're influencing trends and pushing companies to innovate. For example, the tech industry is constantly evolving to keep up with our demands for the newest and coolest gadgets (I'm sure many of you have heard of the *latest* and *greatest* Apple Vision Pro VR set). We're driving the market forward, and businesses are paying attention to what we want. Another big sector that is heavily influenced by teens is sports. According to Aspen Institute, the average family spends nearly 900 dollars annually for a child’s primary sport. This figure does not include merchandise related to the sport either.

Boosting Jobs and Entrepreneurship

Our spending isn't just about the stuff we buy, it's also about the jobs we help create. Think about it. The more we spend at our favorite stores, the more people they need to hire. Plus, many teenagers are very fond of starting their own businesses with over 66% of teens likely to start a business according to jausa.ja.org, bringing even more energy and new ideas into the economy. Not only that did you know Facebook (now Meta), Subway, and Dell Inc. were all started by teenagers? It is very inspiring seeing these wildly successful companies started by teenagers.

Digital Economy Pioneers

We're also making a huge impact in the digital world. Our use of social media, online shopping, and gaming is shaping how these industries operate. Our preferences are guiding the way these platforms develop and change, making us key players in the digital economy.

A Glimpse into the Future

The way we spend our money can give clues about future economic trends. Companies and economists can look at our spending habits to predict what the next big thing might be. Are we going to lean more towards sustainable products, or is technology going to continue to dominate? Our current choices might hold the answers.

Teenagers as Economic Influencers

In conclusion, as teenagers, we are doing way more than just spending money. We're influencing trends, driving innovation, creating job opportunities, and shaping the economy's future. Every time we make a purchase, we're making a statement and playing a significant role in the economic world. So, next time you buy something, remember, it's not just a transaction, it's a part of a bigger economic picture where teenagers are key players. Well, let's just say as a competitive tennis player, I've contributed a decent amount in the world of tennis gear. Now, with my current tennis shoes practically eaten alive by all the running in this weekend's tournament, it's time to hit 'Order' on a fresh pair. The cycle continues!

Rochester Through My Lens

The winter in Rochester is tough but we are tougher we make the most of winter as best we can. Here are some mesmerizing pictures of our winter wonderland through the lens of Deepti Jain Bansal.



Roopa Bhattacharjee

Patishapta is a popular traditional dessert in Bengali culture, especially enjoyed during Makar Sankranti or Poush Sankranti. It consists of thin crepes or pancakes stuffed with a sweet filling. Typically made with rice flour, maida (all-purpose flour), milk, jaggery, coconut, and other ingredients, these desserts hold a special place in Bengali culinary traditions. Today, I'm excited to share the recipe for Patishapta, a delightful variety of pitha or sweet dish. It's incredibly easy to make and is sure to be a hit with everyone cherished for its delicious taste and comforting texture.


For the batter:

  • 1 cup Refined flour/maida
  • 1/2 cup Sooji (semolina)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups Milk
  • Ghee as needed

For the filling:

  • 3 cups Coconut
  • Khoya, grated
  • 5 tbsp Sugar/date jaggery
  • 3-4 Green cardamoms


Preparation of stuffing

  1. In a pan mix grated coconut khoya with sugar or jaggery and place it over low flame. Add a little milk to make it sticky.
  2. Add cardamom in it (you can add nuts, raisin too if you like, it is optional).
  3. Keep stirring the mixture till it gets sticky. Let it cool for 15-20 mins. 

Preparation for Patishapta

  1. Take maida, sooji, sugar or jaggery, and rice flour in a bowl.
  2. Add milk. Mix it carefully, so there are no lumps. Keep the mixture for half an hour.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan. Brush a little ghee, pour a thin layer of the mixture on it and spread it quickly with the ladle similar to dosa.
  4. Put the filling lengthwise at the center of it and roll it. Wait till the color is light brown.
  5. Place it on the plate. Serve hot or cold.
  6. You can pour condensed milk over it before serving.

It is super easy and everyone will enjoy it. 

Have you considered becoming an ICAM member?

Check out http://icamn.org/membership to learn about the amazing benefits you can enjoy!

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