25 years of Ek Shaam Raksha Ke Naam
Raksha, a nonprofit based in Atlanta dedicated to promoting healing, justice, and empowerment for survivors of violence within the South Asian community, celebrated twenty-five years of its flagship annual event, Ek Shaam Raksha Ke Naam (An Evening in the Name of Raksha), at the Rialto Center for the Arts in downtown Atlanta on October 27, 2023. This year’s theme, “Raaz to Awaaz: Honoring the Journey from Silence and Secrets to Finding Our Voice” served as an important milestone as the Georgia-based nonprofit entertained guests through a historical, fun-filled evening with music, food, awards, and celebration.
[Left] Raksha Youth group receives Seeds of Change Award. In the picture: Adya and Ruchika Srinivasan, Tara and Kavita Purushothaman, Krisha and Reshma Patel, Dhruv and Sheetal Patel, Vikram and Sonali Bora.
Penn Masala, a renowned South Asian acapella group, had first wowed the audiences in 2004, and this year’s partnership planned to be no different. Medha Dhawan, the first-time Ek Shaam attendee, said, “It’s a solid bonus to watch Penn Masala perform but the main reason I wanted to come this year was to support a worthy cause and add my financial support for Raksha to continue to help violence victims.”
[Right] Raksha staff, board, and friends with Penn Masala.
[Left] Survivor Ritu shares her
The evening commenced with a warm welcome from Raksha Board President, Nisha Kapil, and Executive Director Aparna Bhattacharyya who shared Ek Shaam’s 25-year metamorphosis through a nostalgic video. She asked audience members to stand if they had volunteered over the past 25 years and graciously offered gratitude for their support. The evening continued with Penn Masala’s first of three sets.
As guests sipped the crowd-favorite rose-flavored lemonade and enjoyed a boxed dinner, Bhattacharyya, along with Raksha’s Advocacy Services Manager, Anjali Guntur, mingled with guests. Both were dressed alike in saris by designer Pooja Murthy. The bold print outlined with positive words/encouraging phrases brought “the message about the journey from silence and secrets to finding our voice into full-scale visual display without unneeded noise,” Bhattacharyya said. Guests showed their admiration and gratitude for Raksha’s long-standing good work by raising $150,000 to continue helping South Asian victims of domestic violence.
As done during past events, organizations and individuals were given awards for community, nonprofit, and changemaker leadership. Raksha thanked them for their dedication to making impactful change for engaged and thriving Asian communities.
[Right] Penn Masala wowed the audience at the Raksha event.
The Ramesh & Vijaya Bakshi Community Change Award was presented to Sophia Qureshi, founder and publisher of 285 South, a news publication highlighting the stories and perspectives of immigrant and refugee communities in metro Atlanta. Her publication keeps the public in the know “by sharing immigrant stories, it goes a long way in making them feel seen, heard and valued and provides a full circle experience by helping understand each other,” Qureshi said in her acceptance speech.
The Seeds of Change Award was presented to Raksha Youth and Parents—Adya and Ruchika Srinivasan, Tara and Kavita Purushothaman, Krisha and Reshma Patel, Dhruv and Sheetal Patel, Vikram and Sonali Bora, Jaiveer Bagga, Anika Srinivasan, and Rishika Chaturvedi. The award highlighted how the Raksha Youth board and their parents have paved the way for speaking up and sharing their voices.
[Left] Aparna Bhattacharyya with Sophia Qureshi who received the Community Change Award.
The Himmat (Courage) Award was presented to Jennifer Hamamoto, Managing Director, Immigration Services and Victims of Violence (VOV), and Lead Attorney at the Latin American Association (LAA). Hamomoto’s strong advocacy for immigrant survivors has led her to champion critical programming and services for survivors and their families.
[Right] Himmat Award was given to Jennifer Hamamoto.
Raksha took a moment to recognize and honor the remarkable strength and courage displayed by the survivors it serves. One of them said, “We must continue to support organizations like Raksha with open hearts, minds, and wallets because it makes an impact on those who face the darkest of times.” The evening concluded with Penn Masala’s final two sets.
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