Ekal Vidyalaya organizes a musical fundraiser
To provide resources for education to children in rural and tribal communities in India, the Atlanta Ekal Vidyalaya chapter set out to present a dance and music-studded entertainment program, with some of the best artists in Atlanta at the Global Mall in Norcross, on December 2.
[Left] Organizers and volunteers came togther for the Ekal Vidyalaya fundraiser event.
As ticket sales exceeded expectations, the attendees and volunteers eagerly anticipated the day of the program to warmly welcome an audience of more than 300 from across Georgia and neighboring states.
The event began at 7:30 pm after a delicious dinner at the Global Mall’s Impact Center, with a cheerful welcome from the GA event coordinator, Neetu Singh Chauhan, who emceed the show with great verve and enthusiasm.
The well-attended event was graced by Shawn Still, the newly elected state senator; and Madan Kumar Ghildiya, deputy consul at the Indian Consulate in Atlanta. The guests of honor, accompanied by the Ekal’s Atlanta chapter president Shiv Aggarwal; Ajay Upadhyaya; and Kusum Khurana; lit the lamp while Pandit Joshi chanted the mantras. This was followed by the rendition of the uplifting prayer song “Itni Shakti Humein Dena Daata.” The show commenced with a mesmerizing Rajasthani kathak dance admirably choreographed by the founder and director of Kalashram USA, Anuraj Sharma, who is a student of kathak maestro, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj.
It was then time for four of Atlanta’s talented and well-known vocalists to regale the audience with a repertoire of ever-popular songs. Purnima Mathur, who is an accomplished singer for All India Radio and has featured in the music talent shows, SaReGaMa-Pa and Zee Antakshari, rendered melodious classic medleys that included “Jaane Kya Baat Hai” and “Aaiye Meherbaan.” Pankaj Bhargav, popularly known as Kishore Kumar of Atlanta, followed and gave a joyous rendition of “Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan,” “Chala Jata Hoon Kisi Ki,” and “Hawa Ke Saath Saath.” A romantic duet “Dekha Ek Khwaab” was finally performed by Mathur and Bhargav.
[Right] Some of the best Atlanta singers and emcee presented at the event.
Next on stage, Shyam Gupta, who is an Atlanta Indian Idol finalist, kicked it up a notch with an electrifying attitude to match Rafi’s songs, “Chhalka Yeh Jaam,” “Badan Pe Sitare,” and “Deewana Hua Badal.” He followed this with “Tere Mere Milan Ki Ye Raina” sung as a duet with Jyotsna Nanu. Nanu, a singer, composer, and music producer, then treated the audience with her soulful vocals and dexterous techniques as she sang “Mere Dholna Sun” and “Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo.”
It was then the turn of Ajay Upadhyay, the Ekal regional VP, who sang a tuneful “Neele Neele Ambar Par.”
After some jokes from emcee Neetu Chauhan, a presentation by Preeti Tanwar followed, which highlighted Ekal’s one-teacher school model followed in all Indian states. With an annual sponsorship of only $365 per person, Ekal has brought literacy and life-enriching opportunities to over two million students in one hundred and two thousand schools. Each Ekal school provides basic education to nearly 20-30 students with an almost equal boy-girl ratio. The Ekal program of free basic primary education has been expanded to provide vocational training, social empowerment, and healthcare for adults, resulting in far-reaching changes in neglected villages of India and Nepal. Sponsors can track their school at www.ekal.org, connect with Ekal on Facebook and Twitter, or visit an Ekal school as part of the Vana-Yatra program.
[Left] Anurag Sharma gave a mesmerizing Kathak performance at the event.
Following Preeti’s presentation, youth volunteers Aayush Gaherwar, Kunal Sajjan, and Esha Sajjan engaged the audience with trivia questions, and winners were rewarded with surprise gifts.
Atlanta has many hidden gems, and a few talented singers from the audience spiced up the event. Aruna Sharma sang “Ja Re Ja Re Ud Ja Re Panchhi,” and Sripriya Srinivas, an Atlanta Idol Junior category winner, captivated the audience with her rendition of “Beeti Na Bitaai Raina.”
Soon after, the audience was transported to an imaginary Vrindavan through the scintillating, beautifully choreographed Kathak group dance performed by the students of Kalashram USA.
After the heartfelt vote of thanks by Aggarwal, the singers: Bhargava, Gupta, Mathur, and Nanu, came together for zestful foot-tapping numbers that had the audience getting up from their seats to dance, earning thunderous applause.
The show was a huge success, raising funds for 105 schools at the event.
—Neetu Singh Chauhan and Mahadev Desai.
Pictures by Rajesh Khanna.
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