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Ekal Vidyalaya raises $31,000 at Holi Sangeet Sandhya

By: Girish Modi
May 2011
Ekal Vidyalaya raises $31,000 at Holi Sangeet Sandhya Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation’s Atlanta chapter presented a fundraising gala with music by Manoj Mishra Musical Group on Sunday March 20th at the Ashiana Banquet Hall in Global Mall. Singer Manoj Mishra, accompanied by Sa Re Ga Ma Pa finalist Nirupama Dey entertained over 300 well-wishers and supporters.

Ekal has been involved in eradicating illiteracy from India since 1986. It operates single teacher informal schools in tribal and rural areas which lack access to primary education and governmental programs. The Ekal movement has sparked passion among tribal children for education, curbed alcohol consumption and superstitions, and empowered villages to become self-reliant through knowledge. There are 34,343 Ekal schools with over 962,000 students.

Since it was Holi, guests were welcomed with a gulaal/rang (dry/wet) tilak and then served dinner catered by Ashiana Restaurant, with traditional holi thandai (drink) and besan sev. Films showed Ekal schools and activities. The musical program began with lighting of diya by Ekal’s longtime supporter Dr. Krishan Gupta. Emcee Rachna Gupta introduced the artists and their three musicians: Rajendra Nakashe, on dholak and octopad; Pramod Katekar, guitar; and Ashwin Rokade, keyboard. This team gave a vibrant performance for three hours without intermission!

Manoj is not only a versatile singer, but also a good comedian and showman. He sang a few O.P. Nayyar compositions in late Rafi Saheb’s voice, then classical songs such as “Laaga Chundari mein daag” and “Madhuban mein Radhika Naache” while Rajendra brought out tabla sounds from his dholak!

Manoj excelled in alap of “Man Tadpat Hari Darshan” from film Baiju Bawra in Raag Malkauns. He created a nostalgic mood with seniors with “Gham diye mushtqil” in late K. L. Saigal’s golden voice and a Gujarati immortal song “Taari Ankh no Afini.” He also sang songs in Marathi and Punjabi. Audience members accompanied him on stage when he sang a popular qawaali from film Amar Akbar Anthony.

Nirupama Dey sang Asha Bhosle’s “Jaiye Aap Kahan Jaayenge” (Kashmir Ki Kali) and “Aage bhi jaane tu” (Waqt) and Lata Mangeshkarji’s evergreen songs “Aayega aane wala” and “Aaja re pardesi.” She also sang Lataji’s famous Bengali song “Mano Na Laage” composed by the late Salil Chowdhury. Her rendition of “Aye Mere Watan ke logo” moved the hearts of many in the audience.

Ekal volunteer and emcee Rachna Gupta solicited school sponsorships: a dollar a day will establish and run a one-teacher school for an entire year. Rotary Clubs of Clayton County (Lata Chinnan-4 Schools) & Lake Spivey (Vibha Singla-2 Schools) continued their school-matching policy and matched the first 6 schools that audience members sponsored! Some people chose to sponsor a school rather than spend on birthday celebrations, and one young boy donated the cash gifts that he received on his birthday. Ekal was ably assisted by SEWA volunteers who completed secure online transactions for donors using credit cards.
Ekal also raffled $1 tickets which resulted in sponsoring two schools. The two raffle winners generously donated the $50 gift cards donated by Rajkamal Foundation back to Ekal. It was appreciatively noted that other associations like the Maharashtra Mandal of Atlanta and Sargam (music group) have come forward to join this people’s movement.

Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America is a nonprofit that saw its beginnings in Atlanta through the efforts of Dr. Basant Tariyal, Global CEO of Ekal, and other Atlanta residents. Southeast Regional President Chander Aggarwal, Director Dr. Tariyal and Atlanta Chapter President Shiv Aggarwal gave Certificates of Appreciation to the visiting artists and vote of thanks to all the sponsors, stage decorator (Fifth Season), sound system provider (DJ Bally), Ashiana restaurant, volunteers and audience. In all, the evening raised $31,000 to support 85 Ekal schools.

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