Ekal’s “Shaam-E-Sangeet” raises over $50,000 for one-teacher schools
(At left) Diya lighting by Consul Shailesh Lakhtakia. (Photo: Deepak Naik)
Despite cold and windy weather, nearly 300 people gathered in a jam-packed hall in Global Mall, Norcross, GA on Saturday, November 11, 2017, to enjoy and support the “Shaam-E-Sangeet” fundraiser for Ekal Vidyalaya of USA. Produced by Geet Rung School of Dance and Music, the mesmerizing program showcased talented singers and dancers whose delightful presentation of dances, old classics, new upbeat foot tapping songs, and a vibrant grand finale kept the audience enthralled till the very end.
After the attendees enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Monika Kumar, they were warmly welcomed by Preeti Tanwar and Neetu Chauhan who emceed the show. Mr. Shailesh Lakhtakia, Consul (HOC, Protocol) of India in Atlanta, lit the lamp along with Geet Rung School’s Founder and Director Divya Srivastava and Ekal Vidyalaya GA Chapter President Shiv Aggarwal. This was followed by Ganesh Vandana, a dance invocation for seeking blessings for the program by students of Geet-Rung.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and Ekal’s DVD and later PowerPoint presentation showed its one-teacher school model in action. In the DVD, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded Ekal’s “very successful mission” and recognized the wonderful work in the 58,672 schools providing basic education to nearly 1.5 million rural children, with an almost equal boy-girl ratio.
(Left) Saras Jain, Divya Srivastava, Indrani Danave, and Anita Gupta. (Photo: Deepak Naik)
Divya Srivastava, who has always extended her undying support to Ekal, had once again put in the tremendous effort and energy to put this show together, which was reflected as the program unfolded. Music students trained by Pankaj Bhargava of Geet-Rung opened the evening with “Suraj Ki Garmi Se,” a melodious bhajan sung originally by Sharma Bandhu for Parinay movie. Atlanta’s versatile singer Sunny Sachdeva presented Geet-Rung’s artists. Pankaj Bhargava, Saras Jain, Indrani Danave, and Anita Gupta enthralled the audience with a medley of evergreen songs.
Pankaj Bhargava, Sunny Sachdeva, Saras Jain, Anita Gupta, and Indrani Danave. (Photo: Deepak Naik)
Anita set the tone with her “Aaiye Meherbaan.” Saras Jain, a Sangeet Prabhakar and trained Hindustani Classical vocalist effortlessly did full justice to demanding songs like “Mere Mehboob Tujhe” and Arijit Singh’s numbers in his inimitable voice. Pankaj Bhargava, who has been associated with Ekal for several years, had the audience humming to his “Dil Aaj Shaayar,” “Ae ajnabi tu bhi kabhi,” a medley of Kishore Kumar songs picturized on the evergreen actor Dev Anand, to name a few. Indrani Danave sang “Paani Paani Re,” “Chalo Tum Ko Lekar,” and “Mere Dholna Sun,” to which intricate footwork, soulful expressions, and graceful movements were added by the dancers. The duets were also well chosen and showed the versatility of every artist. Sunny not only emceed a segment but also sang “Yoon Rutho Naa Haseena” very well.
Shivprasad Kotagal, Gaurav Bhagat, Saras Jain, and Pankaj Bhargava. (Photo: Deepak Naik)
The second segment of the program was live accompaniment by the instrumentalists, Shivprasad Kotagal, a Sangeet Visharad from Baroda College of Music on tabla, Gaurav Bhagat on guitar, and Pankaj Bhargava on harmonium. This segment generated more excitement in the audience. with the melodious renditions of “Kal Chaudhveen Ki Raat Thi” by Pankaj, “Ranjishe hi sahi” by Saras, “Aaj jane ki zid na karo” by Indrani, and the fast paced qawalis to peak the climax. After more vintage songs and captivating dances to the live singing, the upbeat final medley of all-time disco favorites made the audience not only clap in unison but also pulled them on the dance floor! Sound engineering was very well taken care of by Jogy of Divinity AV.
The Ekal program of free basic education for children has been expanded to formalize vocational training, social empowerment, and healthcare for adults. It has thus brought about far-reaching changes in neglected areas of India. It is the largest grassroots nongovernment organization with chapters in Australia, Canada, Dubai, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States (42 chapters).
Once the attendees realized the huge social impact their monetary contribution would make, they vied with each other to sponsor Ekal schools. As soon as 80 schools had been donated by individuals, Mr. Pravin Kakadia, a long-time sponsor and volunteer announced he would match the next 11 with his own 11 schools ($4,015). “Shaam-E-Sangeet 2017” didn’t stop at 101, but raised 119 schools in one night!
Esha and Kunal Sajjan had stayed up late and created art and craft work especially for the event and offered all sale proceeds to Ekal. With these 119 schools, Ekal is slowing inching towards its goal of 100,000. Shiv Aggarwal, Ekal Atlanta Chapter President, thanked the talented and compassionate artists, students, sponsors, donors, volunteers, VHPA for the much needed hot chai, and all supporters for joining the Ekal family. Sponsors can track the progress of their school at www.ekal.org, and can connect with Ekal on Facebook or Twitter also. All in all, it was an energetic, much appreciated, and enjoyable program for a very worthy cause!
(Left) Pankaj Bhargava and Divya Srivastava. (Photo: Deepak Naik)
[The article above is a Website Bonus Feature, appearing only on the website for December 2017, not in the print/digital issues.]
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