Karuna Charities hosted its tenth Annual Diwali Gala and Dinner on November 18, 2007, 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 dance medley 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. Karuna is also involved in community service.
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 $120,000 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 and at Montgomery College in Maryland. She also described plans to establish a scholarship in the District of Columbia.
The ceremonial Diwali lamp was lit by Deputy Indian Ambassador, Mr. R. S. Jassal. He praised Karuna Charities for helping the needy and pointed out that following in Karuna's footsteps, the Indian Embassy had recently started helping Indians living abroad who were in need.
Ms. Uma Ahluwalia, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services of Montgomery County, MD described the long and established partnership with Karuna Charities to help "returning" women get a foothold as they strive for independence.
Mr. David Stein spoke of the help that Karuna scholarships are providing to needy women in Montgomery College, Maryland.
The highlight of this Diwali Gala was the talent contest. Each table voted on the performers.
The winners were Alka Batra, first prize (vocal), Arpita Mukherjee (creative dance), and Amina Vohra (belly dance). All the participants performed well and voters had a difficult time awarding points to the talented singers and dancers.
The winners were announced by Ms. Nilima Mehra. The honor of giving away the prizes to the winners went to the charming Mrs. Jassal, wife of the Deputy Indian Ambassador.
Next, raffle prizes from Holiday Inn, Bombay Tandoor, Bombay Palace, Radiance Anti-Ageing Skin Medical Center, Ivy Plastic Surgery Associates, Amina Vohra's Dance School, Gold City Jewelers (an attractive 22 carat gold ring), and the Law Offices of Raja Bhandari and Saxon Settlements were given away by Mrs Bina Dhir, Joint Treasurer; Mrs. Kanti Singh, Vice President; and Mrs. Promila Banik, Secretary.
The program ended with a vote of thanks by Mrs. Sujata Avasthi, Vice-President.
The sumptuous 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 with printing by Apple Printers.
Decor was provided by Kavita Kutheala, Gita Bhatia, Shukla Khanna, Savita Malhotra, and Merrylin Dawson.
The next fundraiser for Karuna’s humanitarian missions will be a golf tournament in May 2008 and we, at Karuna hope you will help to make it a big success.