Karuna Charities' 19th Annual Diwali Gala was held on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at the Holiday Inn, Gaithersburg, MD. It was a highly anticipated, glittering event with a meeting of 350 friends and enthusiasts, a popular singing contest, an auction and a wildly popular raffle as well as delicious and plentiful food. All the seats were sold out well in advance.
The Mistress of Ceremonies, the evergreen Mrs. Nilima Mehra gave a brief introduction about the work of Karuna Charities over the last 19 years. She has been a valuable member and part of Karuna Charities.
Mrs. Amrit Kalotra, President, recounted the first Karuna Charities fundraiser 19 years ago in a private home with a handful of ladies. She provided more details about the work of Karuna Charities for battered women in shelters, in hospitals and schools in India and universities in Metro Washington. Karuna Charities has endowed scholarships at the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), The University of the District of Columbia (UDC), Montgomery College in Maryland, and The Universities at Shady Grove in Maryland. Mrs. Kalotra talked about the need to help women when they leave homeless shelters so that they can find their footing; the help could be in the form of school fees, a month's rent for an apartment, attorney's fees, and so on. Karuna has helped in natural disasters, e.g., Tsunami and Gujarat flood victims in India, Firefighters during 9/11, Katrina survivors, Haiti, the Philippines, and earthquake relief in Nepal.
Mrs. Kalotra has been at the helm of Karuna Charities Washington, Inc. for 18 years. She has forged a strong base of supporters with her charm and hard work and Karuna Charities has held strong and steadfast on its mission.
The Chief Guest, Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr., President of the University of District of Columbia and Board Members as well as Karuna Ambassadors lit the Diwali Lamp, signifying hope. Board Members present included Mrs. Amrit Kalotra (President); Mrs. Kanti Singh (Vice-President); Mrs. Jasbir Sethi (Vice-President and Treasurer); Mrs. Sujata Avasthi (Vice-President); Mrs. Promila Banik (Secretary); and Mrs. Bina Dhir (Joint-Treasurer) along with Karuna Ambassadors Mrs. Mara Puri, Mrs. Sushma Oberoi, Mrs. Rohini Khera and Mrs. Sangita Kalotra.
Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr. was called upon to address the audience. He talked about the different doors (ranging from Apprentice to Masters) at which a student could enter UDC and traverse across disciplines and levels.
A student from Montgomery College who hailed from South Africa gave a moving speech about how Karuna Charities' scholarship gave her a chance to fulfill her dreams.
Bollywood folk dances, beautifully choreographed by Mrs. Priti Vasavada were performed by Sana Majumdar, Nidhi Nagashankar, Aashna Majumdar, Rushi Jain, Aarushi Gupta, Shairee Arora, Vagmi Luhar, Isha Vashee, and Maria Naveed.
The highly anticipated Talent Contest showcased immense singing talent in the Indian community. The winner of the "Youngsters" category, Karthik Jayanthi won the heart of
the audience with a rendition of the song "Mere Sapno ki Rani". The winner of the Female category was Arundhotee Goswami ("Ek Pyar ka Nagma Hai"), and Edward Stephens ("Chookar Mere Man Ko") won in the Male category. All the winners were of high caliber.
A return Air India ticket was auctioned to the highest bidder. There was much excitement at the Raffle drawing where a number of lovely gifts were given by Holiday Inn; Bombay Tandoor; Tequila Grande; Jewel of India; Saxon Settlements; Mr. Ashok Batra, Attorney at Law; Jewels by Ashkosh: Mrs. Stuti Gupta; Comfort Inn (Mr. Vira Safal, Managing Partner; Eight-O-One, Mrs. Sujata Avasthi; Ruby's Collection; Royal Gemz; Mrs. Meenakshi Mohan (art); Mrs. Vandana Pamecha (art); and Mrs. Simi Bhandari (art). Karuna Charities would like to thank all the Raffle Donors as well as Porsche of Tysons Corner for a suitcase.
Sumptuous dinner was catered by Bombay Tandoor and the music was provided by the ever popular and a long-associate of Karuna Charities, DJ Hemant.