Karuna Charities hosted its ninth Annual Diwali Gala and Dinner on November 12, 2006, at the Holiday Inn in Gaithersburg. The fundraiser was hosted by effervescent Mrs. Nilima Mehra, hostess of the Kolors of India and Kaleidoscope of Asia television programs. The mood for the event was set by a gentle Ramlila dance by eight lovely young ladies, choreographed by Mrs. Priti Vasadeva of the Kalanjali School of Folk Dances.
Karuna's mission is to assist the needy and disadvantaged in the United States and India. Karuna Charities especially helps battered women and children with financial and moral support to enable them to become independent and live with dignity. Karuna's goal is to help needy and meritorious students through educational scholarships and vocational training.
Mrs. Kalotra, in her welcome speech, outlined Karuna's role in the community and thanked Karuna's members and the community for its generous support. From a small beginning in Lekha Sreenivasan's living room, Karuna has grown with much nurturing, into an organization that has donated over $100,000 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 described the Karuna Scholarship fund that has been established at the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) Education Foundation. She also described plans to establish these scholarships in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Mr. John Ruffino, Executive Director of NVCC Educational Foundation and Ms. Bonnie Idle, Assistant Director described the Karuna Scholarship.
Mr. Natwar Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer of the District of Columbia was the chief guest. He had kind words to say about Karuna's work in the D.C. metropolitan area.
The highlight of this Diwali Gala was the Karoke competition. Each table voted on the performers.
The performers in men's solo were Ashok Siddhanti, Jarnail Dhillon, Mrinal Sharma, Narayankutty Menon, and T.K. Mukherjee, the winner.
The performers in women's solo were Dipika Ahluwalia, Lavika Bhagat Singh, Manjit Brar, Rohini Khera, Sonia Dhingra, and Sushma Praveen, the winner.
The winners were announced by Mrs. Sujata Avasthi, gifts were presented to each performer, and prizes were awarded to the winners.
The honor of giving away the prizes went to the charming Mrs. Ronen Sen, wife of the Indian Ambassador.
Next, raffle tickets from Around the World Travels, Holiday Inn, Bombay Tandoor, Bombay Palace, Radiance Anti-Ageing Skin Medical Center, and the Law Offices of Raja Bhandari and Saxon Settlements were given away by Mrs Bina Dhir, Joint Treasurer and Mrs. Promila Banik, Secretary.
The program ended with a vote of thanks by Mrs. Jasbir Sethi, Vice-President and Treasurer.
The dinner was catered by Mrs. Rani Varma of Bombay Tandoor.
DJ Hemant Kumar set a happy tone with favorite songs from Bollywood.
An informative brochure for the occasion was created by Amrit Kalotra, Sangita Kalotra, and Puneet Sharma.
The next fundraiser for Karuna’s humanitarian missions will be a golf tournament in May 2007 and we, at Karuna hope you will help to make it a big success.