Karuna Charities hosted its eighth Annual Diwali Gala and Dinner on October 30, 2005, at the Holiday Inn in Gaithersburg. The fundraiser was hosted by charming Sneh Kataria. The mood for the event was set by a gentle invocation dance by two lovely young ladies, choreographed by Mrs. Sujata Avasthi.
Mrs. Kalotra, in her welcome speech, thanked its members and the community for its generous support, and reached out to the community to increase Karuna’s membership and volunteers further. From a small beginning in Lekha Sreenivasan's living room, Karuna has grown with much nurturing, into an organization that has donated over $90,000 in broad-based charitable activities that do not limit themselves in their scope. Although the major thrust of activities continues to be the support of the disadvantaged of any race or country of origin in the local community, Karuna is part of a much larger International community as well, and has responded swiftly to natural disasters like the Tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina. The typical activity of a Karuna volunteer includes helping women who are transitioning from life in a shelter toward independent living with educational and vocational training and rent, delivering meals at local shelters, buying medical supplies for the sick, and assisting local, state, and national government organizations in times of natural disasters and calamities. In her speech, Mrs. Kalotra also praised the youth wing of Karuna Charities for hosting a fundraiser for tsunami victims and encouraged them to continue their efforts in the future. In addition, she apprised the guests that one major initiative this year will involve Karuna in supporting needy students who are seeking admission for educational courses run by community colleges. Karuna has also donated funds in Delhi, India, for the same purpose and hopes to do so annually.
A young abused woman who had been helped by Karuna to move from a state-run shelter to independent living and care for her son thanked Karuna in measured tones. This speech brought home to the assembled guests in real terms, how their donations were able to change lives and bring hope to those who had been abused. Mr. Kumar P. Barve, member of the Maryland House of Delegates and Chairman of the Montgomery Delegation, who addressed the guests, was moved by this speech to contribute to Karuna Charities’ good causes.
There cannot be a Diwali without the ancient ceremony of lighting lamps. The honors were done by the charming and eloquent Mrs. Ronen Sen, wife of the Indian Ambassador.
A bhangra dance, choreographed by Mrs. Aparna Puri, was performed by the Gabroo te Mutiyaran group. The young performers danced with much vigor and rhythm.
Next, high bids were received on the auction of two airline ticket to any place in the US served by Independence Air. The tickets were contributed by Mr. Vinod Negi of UFX Travels. A beautiful gold and diamond ring contributed by Gold City Jewelers was also enthusiastically auctioned to the highest bidder. Artwork donated by Lac Viet Art Gallery was auctioned to the highest bidder. The bidder paid for it and then returned it to the auction block for a second auction.
Students of the Kalanjali School of Kathak and Folk Dances performed a graceful dance from the movie, Kisna. This dance was choreographed by Mrs. Priti Vasavada.
Mr. Eugene Morris, Manager of the Montgomery County Abused Persons Program focused on how Karuna Charities’ funding has helped several people in the program regain control of their lives.
Ms. Jennifer Ama Randolph performed an astonishingly graceful and vibrant African dance. She was accompanied by two accomplished drummers, Roy Horton and Kuumba King of Kan Kouran of the West African Dance Company.
The raffle was keenly awaited and proved to be a complete success with many prizes by the sponsors and additional ones added by guests on the spur of the moment. Gift sponsors included the Law Offices of Mr. Raja Bhandari, Radiance Antiaging Skin Medical Center, Bombay Palace restaurant, Bombay Tandoor restaurant, and Around the World travel agency.
The program ended with a vote of thanks by Jasbir Sethi, Vice-President and Treasurer.
The dinner was catered by Ms. Rani Varma of Bombay Tandoor.
DJ Hemant Kumar set a happy tone with favorite songs from Bollywood. A festive touch was provided to the occasion by lined, polished wood boxes filled with chocolates by Around the World, Inc., at each table.
The next fundraiser for Karuna’s humanitarian missions will be a golf tournament in May 2006 and we, at Karuna hope you will help to make it a big success.