DIWALI, DANCING & DOING GOOD: LOCAL FOUNDATION CELEBRATES 20 YEARS
The Puranik Foundation hosted over 300 guests at its inaugural gala, Diwali: A Celebration of Lights, on Saturday, October 12th. Diwali is the festival of light.
As I walked into the corridors of the event center, the faint sounds of drums echoed in the background. The décor was so vibrant and lively, I felt like I had been transported to India. Bright orange, red and purple flowers, bright colorful lanterns and flowing silk cascaded from the ceiling leading down the main entryway and then I entered the most important room. The room with the tree, that’s right I the room with a tree.
While many of you might think it might be strange to put a tree in a room for a gala event the significance behind it made it that much more special. For those of you that don’t know the background, the tree was an homage to ‘Mamaji” one of the founders of the Rekha & Sudhir Puranik Foundation. The story begins with “Mamaji” seeing the lack of access to education for the local children in Pune, India. Wanting to give back and fill the need for education. “Mamaji” started teaching a group of 5 children under a tree. What started with 5 children grew to what is now the Vision International Learning Center with over 110 students living on campus.
Not only did the tree serve as an homage but gala guests we able to tie a leave to the tree with one wish or prayer written on the paper leave. At the end the tree was hanging with beautiful leaves of different colors swaying on the branches. As I looked around at all the guests dressed in their most colorful attire, getting their mendhi (henna) done, walking by the market places and picking out bracelets and bindi’s and visiting the astrologer, I thought this was the most beautiful event I’ve ever been to.
What made the night even more magical was the purpose of why we were there. The Diwali Gala served as an introduction of the Puranik Foundation to the Houston community and to shed light on the amazing work being done. When dinner was ready, we were escorted into the dinning area led by Dhol drum players. If you have never heard of Dhol players type that into youtube and witness the awesome music and hyping effect they have.
Dinner was family style and we were served a variety of delicious Indian cuisine. Everyone was chatting animatedly and excited to partake in such good food and even better company. To me, the highlight of the night was hearing from the students at Vision International Learning Center. They sent a video message to us thanking us for visiting them on our Impact India program and looking forward to coming to study in Houston sometime next year.
We also had the opportunity to hear first hand from our Impact India Alumni and parents the how life changing their time in India with the Puranik Foundation was. Next, we heard from Mamaji herself and about her mission to bring access to education for those children from underserved communities often not given the opportunity to study and carve a different path for themselves. Her love, patience and dedication to the Vision International students is inspirational.
Overall, if I could describe the Diwali gala in one word it would be “inspirational.” From the décor to the activities to the food to the students performing it was definitely a magical night. If you are interested in reading more about it you can read about it here (attach links about Diwali gala in the media)