Marking Karuna Charities 20th Anniversary in Washington on November 4, 2018, we saw one of the finest Karuna Charities Diwali Galas ever. Karuna is an established organization committed to helping women help themselves. Karuna provides a boost in many ways such as a month's rent, lawyer's fees, car repair, etc. so the women can gain a footing and step out into the world with confidence. Karuna has done an outstanding job with providing scholarships to needy students so they can make a solid future for themselves. Karuna is also involved in community service.
The evening started with about 350 guests who came prepared to help the needy by buying many raffle tickets and bidding in an auction. The Mistress of Ceremonies, Nilima Mehra kept the event moving.
After the introduction of the Karuna Board Members and Ambassadors, the Keynote Speaker Mr. George Gabriel of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) lit the Diwali lamp. The Chief Guest was Mr. Anurag Kumar, Community Affairs Minister, Embassy of India. The rousing opening song for empowering all the women of the world was jointly sung by Mrs. Sangeeta Mathur Simolte and Mr. Parasuram Iyer.
Mrs. Amrit Kalotra, Karuna Washington Inc. President delivered a heartfelt message about helping the needy in every little way we can and thus changing a life through simple acts of kindness. Battered women need to live a life of dignity. Karuna helps them gain their independence. Karuna also provides home-cooked meals to homeless shelters. A good education is provided to women in need at colleges and universities scattered around Metro Washginton. Karuna has endowed scholarships at Northern Virginia Community College; The Universities of Shady Grove; Montgomery College; and University of the District of Columbia.
Dr. George Gabriel described NOVA's Women Helping Women program, Women in Search of Excellence program; as well as a Faculty program to help women.
The auction consisted of an Air India ticket, a painting by Nalini Bhat, and a painting by Simi Bhandari.
All the singers in the Talent Contest were outstanding. It was hard to decide who was the winner. After the votes were counted by Ajay Kalotra, the following winners were announced: Twelve-year-old Sasanka for "Laage Chunri Mein Daag" from the movie "Dil Hi to Hai"; Supneet Saluja for "Laung Laachi"; and Nitin Vangala for "Ehsaan Tera Hoga" from the movie "Junglee". All the singers won the hearts of the audience. Apart from the winners, the contestants were: Sripragna Vellanki and Srimanya Panipodu (Young); Poojali Ganesh and Sampada Shahane (Female); and Samir Shah and Sanjay Rajgopal (Male).
There were a lot of raffle prizes. Mrs. Jasbir Sethi, Vice-President and Treasurer and Mrs. Sujata Avasthi, Vice-President gave a vote of thanks.
Four amazing Bhangra dancers from George Mason University enthralled the audience with their colorful and energetic performance. The dancers were: Inder Singh, Tanvir Sublok, Amanpreet Rathore, and Ashi Bhasin.
The delicious appetizers and dinner were catered by Bombay Tandoor; the music was provided by DJ Hemant, a long-standing tradition.
The Grand Sponsors were Air India; IBTCI; Softlily; Mr. Frank F. Islam and Mrs. Debbie Driesman; Global Television Network; and two anonymous well-wishers.
A Big Thank You to all the Grand Sponsors and Sponsors, including: Blue Ocean Diamonds (Menal Singh); Bombay Tandoor (Rani Verma); Bright, Bold, and Fabulous (Humera Ahmad); Comfort Inn (Vira Safai); Jewels by Ashkosh (Stuti Gupta); "Mantras in a Lens" collection (Sonia Chopra); Painting (Meenakshi Mohan); Royal Gemz (Naushin Nasir); Ruby's collection (Rubina Shabir); Saxon Settlements (Raja Bhandari); Manjit Singh CPA, Rama and Arun Deva, Baljeet S. Sethi; Indira Kaur Ahluwalia; Desai and Shah, PC, SPAs; The Office of Public and International Affairs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Meeta and Darshan Saluja; Paula and Horacio Verdun; Kanwaljeet and Lakhbir Singh; Nasim and Altaf Khan; Jyoti Gujral; Nanak Insurance Agency, Inc.; i10Agile; James McDonald Associate Architects, P.C.; Rada and Manuel Machin; Suman and Om Chhabra; Santosh and Narinder Thakral; Renuka Misra; and M&T Bank (McLean Branch).