Manavi's Annual Dinner.
The event was held on March 31st 2006 at the popular restaurant 'Akbar,' in Edison. The evening kicked off with the Director of Manavi, Maneesha Kelkar, welcoming the guests and giving a brief synopsis of the organization's activities. She then introduced the speaker of the evening, internationally renowned writer Bapsi Sidhwa. Her critically acclaimed novel, Cracking India, which explores the Partition of India from a child's perspective, was made into the movie Earth by noted Canadian director Deepa Mehta. Ms. Sidhwa discussed the process of adapting the book into a movie and regaled the audience with a slide show of events from the filming. Copies of Ms. Sidhwa's novels were being sold at the dinner and she agreed to a book signing.
After Ms. Sidhwa was done, two current residents of Ashiana, Manavi's transitional home, stepped up to the podium and shared their personal experiences with violence. They talked about their struggle to overcome the guilt, shame and emotional upheaval of domestic violence, and thanked the Manavi staff for helping them discover their inner strengths in Ashiana's safe, secure and supportive environment. The audience was deeply moved by their stories and profusely applauded their narrations.
Manavi had more entertainment in store for the Dinner patrons and next up were New York based group 'The Nayikas Dance Theater Company' which performed the classical Indian Odissi dance. Their repertoire of feminist based works supported the theme of women's empowerment. The dancers' graceful and vivid portrayal of women as 'Devi', the Indian Goddess and destroyer of evil, brilliantly expressed their feminist philosophy. The performance was followed by dinner after which our DJ for the night, DJ Ankit, took over the proceedings. His catchy tunes drew the audience onto the dance floor and everyone let loose and danced up a storm.
Nearly three hundred people attended the event and supported us in our efforts. We had a large number of sponsors and raised a net amount of $25,000. Manavi volunteers spent hours helping to arrange the event and turned up in large numbers to assure the smooth flow of the evening. Special thanks must be given to the Silent Auction Committee which did a superb job of organizing the auction. Most of the auction items were bid on during the course of the night and the total collected was a significant contribution to Manavi's annual budget for the forthcoming year. We must also acknowledge members of the Manavi Board and Benefit Committee for their support and hard work in organizing the event. A final thank you to everyone who attended and supported us in our struggle--you help us keep the faith.