Children’s Hope India – A Joyful Quest for Giving

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Chandrika Tandon receives the Lotus Award, flanked by Maya Rajani, Children's Hope India president, Tinku Jain, master of ceremonies, and Lavina Melwani, Children's Hope India co-founder.

Chandrika Tandon receives the Lotus Award, flanked by Maya Rajani, Children’s Hope India president, Tinku Jain, master of ceremonies, and Lavina Melwani, Children’s Hope India co-founder.

Children’s Hope India – The Quest for Giving

“There are so many ways to give, there are so many things to give…I wish you will all have your own epiphany and you would re-dedicate yourself on a different scale and a different level to finding your own radiance and giving that to the world; because you will find that even peace is not going to be enough – you will want blessings for yourself and the planet when you’re done – and that’s my wish for you.  The Gayatri Mantra, the beautiful six thousand year old Vedic mantra,  says: ‘Let my heart shine as bright as a billion suns.’ Om Shanti Om Shanti Om Shanti. – God Bless all of us, God bless Children’s Hope, and God Bless the planet.”

I’m starting at the ending but these closing words by Chandrika Tandon in her powerful remarks about how we define success and life’s journey at the Children’s Hope Gala got a huge roar of applause and a standing ovation.  Tandon who was honored as the Lotus Honoree at Children’s Hope 25th Anniversary Gala certainly knows a thing or two about giving: she is the largest individual donor in the organization’s history. A leader in the field of business, education and the arts, she has given of herself, her knowledge and her music.

The Sani Family was honored for their for their commitment to CHI. Sunil and Sharmila Sani received the award on behalf of the family are flanked by Maya Rajani and Dr. Dina Pahlajani, co-founder and co-president of Children’s Hope

The Sani Family was honored for their commitment to CHI. Sunil and Sharmila Sani received the award on behalf of the family. They are flanked by Maya Rajani and Dr. Dina Pahlajani, co-founder and co-president of Children’s Hope

Over 500 guests from the tri-state area had gathered at Pier Sixty in Manhattan on October 28, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Children’s Hope India, a New York-based organization dedicated to the service of underprivileged children in India and the US. attended this gala event which was full of leading names from the business and arts worlds.  India’s Consul General in New York Ambassador  Sandeep  Chakravorty and Mrs. Chakravorty were the chief guests,  and the film director Mira Nair was there in person to introduce her Broadway bound show ‘Monsoon Wedding’. The Master of Ceremonies of this 25th Anniversary Gala was Tinku Jain, noted broadcaster and philanthropist.

Mira Nair & Tinku Jain

Mira Nair & Tinku Jain

It was indeed all about giving and Grammy-nominated Chandrika Tandon’s music from her brand new album ‘Shivoham – the Quest’ set the mood of the evening – the search for love, peace and happiness. The album weaves together the voice of Chandrika with over 200 world musicians in a joyous celebration.  In fact, guests took the good vibes home since there was a gift of this CD for each guest.

 

Bob Roth is presented the Making A Difference Award by Maya Rajani and Poonam and AJ Khubani of Telebrands, sponsor of the award.

Bob Roth is presented the Making A Difference Award by Maya Rajani and Poonam and AJ Khubani of Telebrands, sponsor of the award.

 

The evening’s Making a Difference honoree was Bob Roth, who is the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation and has taught transcendental meditation to children and vulnerable populations in 35 countries. He said, “Without meditation and yoga we will never truly heal the trauma that afflicts so many children who grow up in the slums of India or the crime ridden streets of some neighborhoods in New York City. But with these ancient, evidence-based practices we can give each child a true foundation for a healthy, productive, happy life.”

The evening raised close to a million dollars for education. It was about giving through donations, silent auction and a live auction of material and immaterial things. The impassioned master auctioneer, Christie’s Sandhya Jain-Patel, raised close to $270,000 in the course of 15 minutes. Amongst the luxury items for bidding were gorgeous diamond earrings from the Madison Avenue jeweler Nirav Modi;  a fabulous Jamini Roy painting donated by DAG Modern Gallery which is in both New York and New Delhi;  and a delightful stay in a villa belonging to the Bulgari family in the wine country of Tuscany. (The red wine served that evening was from the Bulgari vineyards.)

Sandhya Jain-Patel - Christie's Star Auctioneer

Sandhya Jain-Patel – Christie’s Star Auctioneer

The immaterial things which were priceless were school buses, education and even a playground for the first girl’s secondary school being built by Children’s Hope in India – the Children’s Hope Girls Academy in Bhopal with an opening scheduled for March 2018.  This will ensure education for 800 vulnerable girls in Gandhi Nagar and surrounding villages – girls who would otherwise have been compelled to stay home and look after siblings or be married off.  Over the course of this evening, funding was raised for two school buses to transport the girls from their villages to the school, a digital learning center equipped for distance learning, a playground, and classrooms, as well as nutrition and medical care for the students.

Lita and Chandrika Tandon with Anisha Nagarajan

Lita and Chandrika Tandon with Anisha Nagarajan

Guests at the CHI Gala

Sapna Pinakin, guest, Monica Lund ad Divya Gugnani

Guests at the gala

Anita Gupta, Radha Subramanium and Rasika Reddy at the cocktail reception

The Sa Dancers in party mode

The Sa Dancers in party mode

Mira Nair gave a lively talk and introduced her much talked about Broadway bound show ‘Monsoon Wedding’ with the performers Namit Das, Anisha Nagarajan, Kuhoo Verma, Michael Maliakel, Meetu Chilana and Levin Valayil. The show had the exuberant dancers from Payal Kadakia’s SA Dance Group including Payal herself, Sumika Rajguru, Rashi Birla, Manisha Nair Sokka, Rhea Ghosh, Richa Kalra and Radhika Mehta.

The live song and dance numbers really had the audience engaged. It was truly a Monsoon Wedding in Manhattan – and there was even a fully decorated Wedding Rickshaw to help get the guests involved!
Mira Nair with the cast of Monsoon Wedding & the Sa Dancers

Mira Nair with the cast of Monsoon Wedding & the Sa Dancers

Neel Pahlajani & Sonia Patel, both long time members of CH 2 perform at the gala. There is even a chapter of the youngest CHI supporters - CH3!

Neel Pahlajani & Sonia Patel, both long time members of CH 2 perform at the gala. There is even a chapter of the youngest CHI supporters – CH3!

No evening is complete without great food and Chef Gaurav Anand had created a virtual Foodie Heaven with a gastronomical cocktail hour which encompassed everything from spinach and asparagus tikkis to Chinese dumplings in takeout boxes to Manchurian cauliflower to aromatic kebabs. The most popular person was the Pani Puri Man as he walked around with his basket of spicy street treats in the elegant cocktail area. Many of these fun appetizers were offered in toy fire trucks, carts and bicycles, adding to the fun factor of the evening. The elegant sit-down dinner was followed by a sumptuous dessert bar. This being a Saturday the crowd seemed to have no intention of going home and DJ Sharad of DJ USA kept them all happy. The event was co-ordinated by Jharna Jaisinghani of Artistic Affairs in such a seamless fashion that all you saw was the magic of the evening.

Many donors, supporters and volunteers contributed their talents to the wonderful evening which in spite of audacious fun-raising certainly managed to reach its fund-raising goals too, for the education of under-served children in both India and the New York area. Now that’s something to smile about!

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Children's Hope India 25th Year Gala

Children’s Hope India 25th Year Gala

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About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. Twitter@lavinamelwani & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

5 Comments

  1. A great recap of truly an amazing evening. I loved the tracks that were played from Chandrikas latest album which was an apt opening for an evening which was about Giving and the joy that brings not only to beneficiaries but to the Givers!

  2. Shashi Uban Tripathi on

    Shashi Uban Tripathi via Facebook

    Congrats Children’s Hope! You’ve come a long way!

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