BY PREETI TANWAR AND MAHADEV DESAI
Photos by Vinod Devlia & Brijesh Darji
Atlanta, GA, January 9, 2019: Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation organized a scintillating dance and music show – ‘Sanskriti – A Bollywood Journey” by Nritya Natya Kala Bharti (NNKB) at the Berkmar High School, on Saturday, December 1, 2018.
Ekal, a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit entity has been working since 1986 in neglected rural and tribal areas to eradicate illiteracy. It operates and supports innovative, single teacher non-formal schools for underserved communities, empowering them by providing free basic education, healthcare, and vocational training. With support from 42 United States’ chapters and others in Australia, Canada, Dubai, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and Nepal, Ekal is impacting the lives of over 1.8 million children, almost equal number of boys and girls, through 77,458 schools ( as of July 2018) operating successfully from Kashmir to Kerala in India.
Despite the inclement weather, the riveting show started at 4:30 pm, with a warm welcome to all by the Ekal GA Cultural Coordinator, Preeti Tanwar and by Ajay Upadhyay (Ekal Regional VP). The well attended event was graced by esteemed dignitaries, Consul, L.T. Ngaithe, Duluth Mayor Johnny Christ, Crawford & Company CEO Harshvardhan Agadi and Ekal President Shiv Aggarwal, who lighted the lamp.
Nritya Natya Kala Bharti (NNKB)’s entire musical segment that enthralled the audience- from “Ganesh Vandana” to the showstopper “Ghoomar” dance, was directed by Kumud and Sandeep Savla. NNKB is the Southeast’s largest Indian dance and music academy. NNKB Founder/Director Kumud Savla is an internationally recognized artist, who has performed across the globe with world renowned artists such as great tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. She has been honored by the Government of India for her international dance workshops and performances. She has been teaching Kathak classical dance for over 20 years. Her husband and NNKB’s Co-Director Sandeep Savla is an accomplished composer, and musician. The show was emceed by their daughter Samta Savla, who is a proficient Kathak dancer, who has had the honor of performing at the Indian Consulate of Atlanta, Cirque du Soleil, and the World of Coca-Cola inauguration ceremonies.
Bollywood singer Salil Bhadekar presented an engaging and well-chosen mix of songs, including some from the latest Bollywood movies (London Thumakda), some vintage items from early 70s (Chup gaye sare nazaare).The show’s delicious piece was his jugalbandi with the female Bollywood singer Laboni. They had an instant rapport with the audience. The audience cheered up and some energetic ones joined them on stage to dance to “Om Shanti Om”and”Jai Jai ShivShankar” songs. Salil’s impressive energy and melodious voice endeared him to the audience in no time. Laboni, attired in a colorful bright orange saree lent extra glow to the stage. The rousing “Damadum mast kalandar” song had all clapping with joy and enthusiasm.
The show’s special and new standout “Breathless” performance was a Kathak blended with Jazz dance set to Hari Haran’s “Breathless” song. That duet’s spellbinding performance was a real treat for the eyes and ears. Strategically placed floor microphones augmented the listening pleasure of the ghungroos, hand claps, and the rhythmic thumps of the tap dance in hypnotic Jazz dance. The harmony of the melody, beats and expressive use of the eyes was awesome. Kumud Savla’s imaginative conceptualization, and direction was admired in this masterpiece choreographed by her especially to reflect the Ekal mission of empowering women, eliminating child slavery and supporting literacy for the underserved kids. The auditorium reverberated to the rousing applause of the audience after each performance.
The audience’s comments about Sanskriti were effusive: “a complete entertainment”, “impeccable energy”, “graceful” and “inspiring” etc.
The well-coordinated show was followed by a full course delicious dinner. This was the very first time the event had the highest number of schools sponsored so far in the Ekal history, despite the smallest number (250) of audience. The event was able to raise a whopping donation of $89,000. It included the generous donation of $25000 from 27th investments and matching 30 schools donation by Crawford Company CEO Harshvardhan Agadi and 169 schools funded by the audience, NNKB & the Ekal Volunteers.
A highly commendable contribution by Savla group for choreographing an awe-inspiring, imaginative, and highly entertaining program for Ekal and helping the Atlanta Chapter to raise sponsorships for 169 schools at the event to support the overall goal of 100,000 villages by 2020 and a praiseworthy mission of Ekal. Ekal Atlanta looks forward to further such collaborations with Savla Group in coming years and to present even betters programs.
Ekal Atlanta thanked all Ekal’s Office bearers and volunteers team, who worked tirelessly to coordinate the Dec 1 event. Gratitude was expressed to Kusum Khurana and team for efficiently serving dinner, to VHPA organization for sponsoring the chai break, Preeti Tanwar for emceeing the program and keeping the audience entertained and informed of the schools sponsorships along with Neetu Chauhan, Rachna Gupta for sharing Ekal overview and facts, to volunteer Pavan Chinthakindi who ensured that all singers artists arrived on time and Ekal’s young volunteer Samiksha Gaherwar for reflecting youth perspective for the Ekal drive. Special thanks to esteemed dignitaries who graced the occasion by attending and also lighting the lamp. Deep thanks to the Crawford CEO Harsha Agadi who matched 30 schools, which really fired up remaining donors at the event and helped in going over the 100 schools goal mark! Such successful events wouldn’t be possible without the Advisory support from Shiv Aggarwal ji, Sant Khanna ji & Satish Damle ji among others, said organizers.
For details or for Ekal School’s progress, please visit www.ekal.org and join the Ekal movement to change the lives of millions of children in remotest areas of India by donating just $1 a day, $365 for the whole year.