Diwali 2020

22nd Karuna Charities Diwali 

During COVID times, Karuna hosted a musical evening via Zoom. The highlight of the show was the Bhajan Samrat and Padma Shri, Anup Jalota in Delhi, India.

Anup Jalota

Zoom was managed by Ajay Avasthi.

The program got off to a good start with a song by beautiful and talented Sangeeta Simlote. She sang “Jeevan Khusboo Deta Hai.”

The MC, Nilima Mehra announced the board members and ambassadors while presenting a slide show of Karuna events.

She introduced Amrit Kalotra, the President of Karuna Charities.

Mrs. Kalotra delivered the following speech:

“Good Evening. I am Amrit Kalotra.

Greetings to all our friends and supporters with a wish for a healthier and happier time. Karuna Charities Washington was inaugurated by our Chairperson Lekha Srinivasan in May 1998. I have had the honor and privilege of serving as the President for the last 20 plus years alongside a most dedicated ALL WOMAN Board. Together, we started this humble organization holding a small Platter full of hope and an ardent desire to do something for our community here in the U.S and overseas. Today, we are 130 members strong and each year, some more join us in our mission.

Karuna, which means compassion in Sanskrit, is the heart and soul of Karuna Charities. We are a grass-roots organization that makes a difference in the lives of the needy and disadvantaged (mainly women and children) in the United States, India, and other countries.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It shows in all levels of society; it rears its ugly head in the homes of the rich and poor. We believe all beings have a right to live a life of dignity. We may not have walked in the shoes of those in need but we can hold their hands and walk beside them and lend them a helping hand.

Some of these emotionally and physically abused women take refuge in shelters but a different kind of challenge faces them as they step out to begin their life anew. We step in and help in various ways, including money for their first month’s rent, lawyers’ fees, training for a new job, essential commodities so they become stronger and forge ahead with more confidence.

Through our assistance, no matter how big or small, we aim to provide a boost to our beneficiaries so that they can lead a better, independent and more purposeful life.

Education is also of paramount importance for it allows a person to earn and to be independent. We have set up endowed scholarships in Montgomery College, The Universities at Shady Grove, Northern Virginia Community College and University of District of Columbia. Giving is good but as they say … Give someone a fish and maybe they can feed their family for a little while … but teach them fishing and they will have a skill that will last a lifetime. Karuna Charities strongly believe in education as a means to a greater end. A woman educated is a family educated.

Karuna Charities also participates in community service. We cook and serve meals in shelters, give cleansing materials in orphanages and Mother Teresa homes. We have been active in our giving especially now during this pandemic. Most recently, we have delivered food to shelters, monetary help to food banks, and provided additional funding through the aforementioned universities to students struggling to make ends meet.

There is still a lot we can do. Remember the small platter we started out with in 1998? It has been growing bigger and bigger and is now full of love, care, empathy and happiness. All this we couldn’t have done alone. It is our beloved community, all of you that have made all this possible.

… You know growing up, I never imaged that I would be involved in community service.

When I was a young girl living in Calcutta, India, I remember looking through our car window and seeing a frightened, homeless girl about my age crying out for food. I wondered … why I had so much and she so little … maybe nothing! Why life was so unfair to so many. A voice inside of me was asking “Why god, why? … Why can’t you do something about it” I entreated.

This image of that little girl has always remained engrained in my consciousness. Then, many years later, I was able to find my answer in the form of a question: … … “What am I going to do about it?”

THE SEED OF COMPASSION, the intense desire to help others in need, that was lying dormant in my mind has been my call to service.

I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to work alongside with my Board Members, Ambassadors, Sponsors, and Karuna members to mobilize our community’s support in the most trying of times for those in greatest need.

You know … … someone asked me the other day, do I feel awkward reaching out to people to ask for donations. … Without any hesitance I replied – No. No I do not.

Over the years, I have come to know our community and YOU our supporters so well. It is because of your unending financial backing and heartfelt compassion that Karuna’s voice remains unfaltering.

Thank you for taking my calls. Thank you for being there for Karuna Charities.

Tonight, we gather online for our 22nd Annual Diwali Gala. Happy Diwali to you all of you.

I am so glad that you chose to take time out of your precious schedules, especially on a Sunday evening, to be here with us all. I hope you enjoy the Show.

Stay Safe … Stay well. … God Bless you all.

A video of Mrs Kalotra’s speech is available at: https://share.icloud.com/photos/0K94XHxTAUidqP8t-NHotQX6Q

Jessie Sethi, Treasurer reminded us that Karuna has no overhead, therefore every cent goes to charity.

Sujata Avasthi, Vice-President thanked Lekha Srinivasan, the Founder of Karuna and Amrit Kalotra the President. She read a beautiful poem she had written.

For over an hour Bhajan Maestro, Anup Jalota and his team of four musicians in Delhi, India entertained us via Zoom with spell-binding music.

These are the songs he sang:

Aisi Laagi Lagan, Meera Hogayi Magan

Ram Narain Janaki

Rangde Chunariya

Kasmewale kya Mohabbat

Jag Mein Sundar Hein Do Naam

Shyam Teri Bansi

Ishk Jab Ek Taraf Ho to Saza Deta Hai

Char Angdayan Le Raha Hoon

Itni Shakti Hame Dena Data

Tum Itna Jo Mukara Rahe Ho

Phoolon Ko Mera Geet Amar Kar Do

Mast Kalandar

Hum Laut Ayenge. Kabhi Al Vida Nahin Kehana

It was a Karuna Zoom Diwali to remember. There was no food or socializing but we all had fun.