On November 3, 2019, Karuna's 21st Grand Diwali Gala was held at the Gaithersburg Holiday Inn. Karuna is an established non-profit organization committed to helping women help themselves. There are four endowed scholarships for women in Metro Washington. Over the years, Karunites have cooked ansd served hot Indiam meals at a shelter in Virginia, provided medical and cleansing material to HIV patients, arranged holiday dinners at a Washington DC homeless shelter and provided rent, lawyer's fees, and other services to women struggling to stand on their feet. Over the years Karunites have donated toward relief efforts around the world. They have supported the needy in India.
The Mistress of Ceremonies, Nilima Mehra kept the event moving. The evening started with the ceremonial lighting of the lamp by Dr. DeRionnne P. Pollard, President, Montgomery College.
A heart-warming opening song, "Tu Pyar Ka Sagar Hai" was sung by Anshu Sharma. This was followed by two graceful and colorful dances by three students of the Saaya Dance Company.
The president of Karuna Charities, Amrit Kalotra gave a heartfelt speech about how the sight of great poverty on the streets of Calcutta moved her to steer the helm of Karuna Charities to pay back the debt to society. She pointed out that Karuna gets the money for its charity projects from those attending the Diwali Gala. She said, a woman helped is a family helped; a family helped is a community helped. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water; by each small donation and act of kindness we have a ripple effect.
After the introduction of the Karuna Board Members and Ambassadors, the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Pollard spoke of her introduction to Diwali, signifying kindness and light, was brought about by her kindergartner. She said when we educate a woman, we transform a generation, a community. She is where she is as Director of Montgomery College due to philanthropy. Karuna treats women with dignity, they believe in the women, see the women's potential. Dr. Pollard's speech was met with a standing ovation.
Karuna has endowed scholarships at Northern Virginia Community College; The Universities of Shady Grove; Montgomery College; and University of the District of Columbia.
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. The following winners were announced: Youngsters: Aakash Kolluri; Ladies: Urmila Prasad; Men: Ashoo Oberoi.
There were a lot of raffle prizes. They were drawn by Promila Banik, Kanti Singh, Jyoti Gujral, and Mara Puri. The Raffle Donors were: Bombay Tandoor, Sapphire Tysons, Holiday Inn (Two); Comfort Inn; Sakson Settlements; Ruby's Collection; and Blossoms for Pink.
A Big Thank You to all the Platinum, Gold and Silver Sponsors.
Platinum: Air India (Mr. T.S. Kohli, Manager, Air India Washington D.C.; Global Television Network (Nilima Mehra, President and Certified Executive Producer); International Business & Technical Consultants, Inc.; Softility; Two anonymous Well Wishers; Birthday gift money donated by a Karuna Ambassador.
Gold: Tequila Grande; Mohan Kapani: Kapani Family Charitable Foundation; Blossoms for Pink - Jyoti Gujral.
Silver: Aditi Spice Depot; Baljit and Jasbir Sethi; Bina Dhir; Bombay Tandoor; Darshan and Meeta Saluja; Desai and Shah, PC, SPAs; Kaur Strategies LLC; The Office of Public and International Affairs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Manjit Singh; Nanak Insurance Agency; Nasim and Altaf Khan; Paula and Horacio Verdun; Raj and Sonia Boveja; Nishith and Sasha Parikh; Shiva IT Services - Ajay Avasthi; Sunil Singh and Family.
The delicious appetizers and dinner were catered by Bombay Tandoor; the music was provided by DJ Hemant, a long-standing tradition.