Chicago IL: Top 20 organizations from all over Chicago, including Desi Junction Radio, FIA, Jeen Varghese, and Chicago for Chennai Group, organized a phenomenal Chennai Flood Disaster Fundraiser on December 20th, 2015, between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM at the Waterford Banquet Hall in Elmhurst, IL. Over 800 persons, belonging to different regions and religions, attended the event to show their support and solidarity to the people of Chennai.
Jassi Parmar, CEO of Desi Junction Radio said that bringing all the communities of India together under one roof for a noble cause was not only a historical initiative, no one has ever done before, but also gave a great sense of achievement to the organizers. He added that fifty plus volunteers, vendors, performers, sponsors, and donors contributed in a big way to the stupendous success of the event.
Jeen Varghese, Community Leader said that Chennai and surrounding areas in the State of Tamil Nadu have been devastated by the torrential rains and massive flooding. “Damage has been enormous – 250 lives lost, 2 million people displaced, $ 3 Billion impact on the economy, and $ 15 Billion in infrastructure damages”, she added and made a fervent appeal to people to contribute to the relief operations.
Within no time, a whopping $ 45,000 was raised at the event, which will be donated to Association for India’s Development in order to enable it to take up relief-oriented initiatives in Chennai. The donors were not confined to India alone; a significant number of non-Indians too contributed to the cause. Following were the top 10 donors: Senthil Kumar Soundarapandian, Shobashalini Chokkalingam, Nirup Krishnamurthy, Shyam Krishnamurthy, Balaji Padmanabhan, Durai Ramachandran, Sri Rajini Sabarathy, Anand Srinivasan, and Suganya Prathap.
Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Eminent Community Leader, based in Illinois, said that the floods in Chennai have touched a chord among the Indian Diaspora in the U.S. “The Indian-Americans, even though thousands of miles away from India, are comrades-in-arms, and are ever ready to reach out to their fellow-Indians, whenever required”, he added.
Krishnamoorthi underlined the need for achieving the long-term solution to the problem of recurrent floods in different parts of India by following the environmental norms of construction and a more efficient urban planning with stringent implementation. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Smart City Mission is an opportunity to revisit the potential impact of haphazard development that is happening in the urban centers in India”, he added.
“What we did today was only a humble beginning; we are committed to engage in the long-term process of rebuilding of the communities once the relief agencies address their immediate priorities”, said Ravi Rawat from Bombay Chopsticks and Perl Banquet, with a sense of enthusiasm. “We have taken a pledge that our efforts will not end until the affected people back home get a new beginning”, he added.
“The print, electronic, and social media in Chicago, which gave sufficient attention to the Chennai floods, became the agent of mobilization and resulted in a huge crowed at the event today,” Chandrakant Modi, President of Asian Media USA pointed out. “Social Media is flooded with heart touching comments about the Chennai’s plight in general and the Fund Raising Event for it in particular”, he added.
Neetu Chandra, the highly sought-after Global actress from India, who graced the event as Guest of Honor, without any cost to it, at the invitation of Desi Junction, said that natural calamities like floods are the litmus test for the communities to show to the world that they can come together in times of great crises and can help each other.
“The acts of bravery demonstrated by Chennaites to rescue people caught in the floods by forming chains and multifarious instances of love, kindness, and resilience have become a source of inspiration to people, across the globe, in grappling with the natural calamities”, Neetu Chandra said. “On account of the innumerable tales of humanity that emerged from rain-battered Chennai, Chennaites have occupied a special place in my heart”, she added.
The instantaneous offer of Neetu Chandra to dance with everyone who donates $ 500 was not only a pleasant surprise for the audience but also turned out to be an instant hit. And many of them grabbed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity without even batting an eyelid. This was followed by a dance riot on the stage by Neetu Chandra and her hardcore fans, a stream of donations, and, naturally, a big smile on faces of the organizers.
Jassi Parmar, Ravi Rawat, Neil Khot from FIA, Surender Mathur, Neela Patel, and Jeen Varghese jointly presented an Award to Neetu Chandra in recognition of her contribution to the Indian films.
“Neetu Chandra is blessed with a golden heart; her presence at today’s event, despite her multifarious professional appointments, proves this beyond any doubt”, said Raj Sharma, Promoter for Neetu Chandra. “She will be happy to associate herself to similar events in future, aimed at the amelioration of the lot of poorer sections of society”, he added.
A high-voltage entertainment program that followed the fundraising process was the biggest highlight of the event. The singers presented a large numbers of hit tracks from Bollywood and uplifted the mood of the audience. The dancers not only showcased their ability to perform different genres of dances but also conveyed a gamut of emotions.
The artists belonging to Yeh Cheez Group, Desi Junction, and Comedy Junction and a large number of professionals, including Rinki Talati, Nisha Saraswat, Rashik, Megha Mathur, Maegha Saraf, Sawpna Balakrishnan, Sharanya Gururajan, Chandrakala Vijay, Ravi Shankar Subramanyan, Noman Khan, Nisima Patel, Suman Sharma, Ruby Saraf, etc. participated in the entertainment program and captured the hearts of the audience.
The event commenced with one minute silence to pay tribute to those who perished in Chennai disaster, which was followed by “Vande Mataram” sung by Sharanya, Ravi Subramaniam, Chandini Duvvuri, and Suman, and “Ganesh Vandana”, performed by Megha Saraf. The event concluded by singing of the National Anthems of India.
The event was professionally managed by Jassi Parmar, Jeen Varghese, Ravi Rawat, Ravi Subramaniam, Senthil Kumar, Murugesh Kasilingam, Sharmila Varadarajan, Neil Khot, Shyamala, Nirup Krishnamurthy, Sri Lala, Pritesh Gandhi, Surender Mathur, Ranga Rajan, Vandana Walia, Chandini Duvvuri, and 50 plus volunteers from various organizations.
A large number of Chicago-based eminent organizations, including Desi Junction Worldwide Radio, Jeen Varghese, Happiness Junction, India House, Waterford Banquet and Conference Centre, The Art of Living, Sai Saffron Chat House, TV Asia, TANA, Arya Sounds, Wintrust Commercial Banking, GLO, Massage and Spa, Asian Media, Mysore Woodland, Deccan and Spice, etc. sponsored the event.
Ten restaurants, namely, India House, Indian Harvest, Vishnu Vilas, Cuisine of India, Sai Saffron, Curry Bowl/Mysore Woodland, Dakshin, Hyderabad Biryani, Deccan and Spice, and Vishnu villas, generously sponsored sumptuous dinner for all the attendees, which was relished by one and all.
Dr Chandrakant Modi spoke about the services provided by Asian Cremation USA (ACU), a not-for-profit organization, for the dignified funeral/cremation. He added that the details are available at its website: www.asiancremationusa.org On this occasion, on behalf of ACU, an Award for Outstanding Service to the Community was presented to David Pimm, President and Funeral Director of Bohemian National Cemetery, located in Chicago. Jassi Parmar conducted proceedings of the event with a professional touch.