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“Shaam-E-Sangeet 2017” raises over $50,000 for
One-Teacher Ekal Vidyalayas in India

By Rachna Gupta
Photographs by: Deepak Naik


On November 11, 2017, nearly 300 people gathered in a jam-packed hall in Global Mall to watch the performance of Geet-Rung School of Dance and Music who had created, choreographed and coordinated “Shaam-E-Sangeet” a fundraiser for Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA. The mesmerizing event 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. Sh. Shailesh Lakhtakia Business Counsel of India consulate in Atlanta, lit the lamp along with Divya Srivastava and Shiv Aggarwal which was followed aptly 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 called Ekal “a very successful mission” and acknowledged 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.

Divya Srivastava, Founder & Director of Geet-Rung 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 gradually & smoothly commenced. Music students of Pankaj Bhargava of Geet-Rung opened the evening with Suraj Ki Garmi Se, a melodious bhajan sung originally by Sharma Bandhu for Parinay movie. Sunny Sachdeva presented Geet-Rung’s artists and their myriad colors.

 Pankaj Bhargava, Saras Jain, Indrani Danave & Anita Gupta enthralled the audience with the selections of songs sung at their best. Anita set the tone for the others to follow with her Aaiye Meherbaan. Saras Jain, a Sangeet Prabhakar and trained Hindustani Classical vocalist effortlessly did full justice to difficult songs like Mere Mehboob Tujhe, and Arijit Singh numbers in his mellifluous 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, among other beautiful songs. Indrani Danave sang Paani Paani Re, Chalo Tum Ko Lekar and Mere Dholna Sun to which intricate footwork, soulful expressions and graceful movement was 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. The second segment of the program was live, joined by the instrumentalists, Shivprasad Kotagal on Tabla, a Sangeet Visharad from Baroda Music of college, Gaurav Bhagat on Guitar and Pankaj Bhargava on Harmonium. This segment in particular created the 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. Followed by more songs and dances to the live singing, the upbeat final medley of all-time disco favorites made the audience not only clap in rhythm but also had them dancing center stage! The love of singing and an innate interest in Ekal’s cause made these busy professionals bring their talent to the program.
Sound engineering very well taken care by Joji of Divinity AV.

 

Pankaj Bhargava & Divya Srivastava, ( Founder & Director of Geet-Rung )


The Ekal program of free basic education for children has been expanded to formalize vocational training, social empowerment and healthcare for adults and thus brought about far-reaching changes in neglected areas of India. It is the largest grassroots non-government organization with chapters in Australia, Canada, Dubai, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States (42 chapters).

Once audience members 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, Sh. Pravin Kakadia, a long-time sponsor and volunteer announced he would match the next 11 with his own 11 schools ($4015). “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 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 , 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!
 

 




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