This Dusshera the Goddess Durga herself descended to earth in a powerful tableaux at the Children’s Hope India Gala – Viva Calcutta on October 13, 2013. Over 430 guests who came to this fundraiser for children’s health and education at Pier Sixty in Chelsea Piers, New York, saw this breath-taking 200 lb idol seated in a pandal of radiant hues of red, gold and orange.
A day of celebration indeed as it was not only Dusshera and the last day of the Bengali Puja holidays but also an evening to enjoy the seductive charms of the city of Calcutta, now known as Kolkata. The festive evening, which had a keynote address by Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, raised $450,000 for CHI projects.
Children’s Hope India honored Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, with the Special Impact Award, given for the first time in the organization’s history, to pay tribute to Nooyi’s strong and successful leadership at PepsiCo and to the inspiration she provides to the younger generation.
The evening began with an opening invocation to the Goddess with ‘Kali’, an original dance theater experience by Surati choreographed by Rimli Roy and set to music by Sumit Roy.
Guests got a chance to pose in front of a gigantic image of the iconic Howrah Bridge, a city landmark, and also taste street foods like puchkas and jaal moori in stalls set up with many Calcutta delicacies. The festive dinner too had many Bengali specialties rarely seen in New York. The silent auction with everything from a sketch by noted Calcutta artist Jogen Chowdhury to much coveted Jets Coach Club tickets to witnessing a live cardiac surgery at Lennox Hill Hospital raised over $25,000.
The host of the evening was the popular TV personality Tinku Jain, who is also an Honorary Advisory Board member of Children’s Hope. She is an eloquent spokesperson for Children’s Hope and introduced the audience to the work of the organization. Guests included Ambassador Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay, Consul General of India, Ajay Banga, President and CEO of Mastercard, cooking icon and noted actress Madhur Jaffrey with Sanford Allen, Meera Gandhi of the Giving Back Foundation, among many other movers and shakers from the worlds of art, business, and philanthropy.
Kavita Lund, president of Children’s Hope, said, “We have all come together here to celebrate and support the children of India as they struggle to meet the challenges of a changing world. Throughout this evening you will hear about the transformations Children’s Hope is making in their lives, with your help.”