BY ACHALA KANUNGO AND MAHADEV DESAI
Photo credit Rajesh Khanna Photography
Atlanta, GA, October 20. 2023: The Ekal National Conference is an annual event where like-minded individuals, volunteers, and leaders unite to discuss, plan, and execute strategies to further the organization’s mission. The event is a testament to the collective dedication of over 120 volunteers from the USA, Canada, and India who attended this extraordinary gathering.
Ekal Atlanta, under the leadership of the Chapter President Shiv Aggarwal, had the honor of hosting the event. The unwavering commitment and hard work were evident throughout the conference, from meticulous event planning to the heartwarming gala on Saturday evening. Atlanta Chapter’s efforts have always transcended borders, as they actively extend their helping hand to serve rural areas in India. The Chapter strives to meet its goals and beyond as it knows the importance of Ekal USA’s contributions, which accounted for one-third of the total funds.
Ekal’s National Conference started with an auspicious lamp lighting ceremony. A significant event featured engaging discussions, informative presentations, and enriching experiences for the Ekal mission of education of underprivileged children, women empowerment, Computer Labs, E-Learning centers. Other programs like Gramothaan Yojna, Ekal USA Catalyst Group, Poshan Vatika, Arogya, Integrated Village Development and efforts to train Acharyas were highlighted. The event aimed to continue the mission of Ekal Vidyalaya, inspired by the words of Swami Vivekananda: “If a child cannot go to school, the school must go to the child.” The primary goal for the year 2024 was to raise one million dollars to support this noble cause.
Ekal’s mission of involving youth and expanding its reach in South India was discussed. The “Jugalbandi” app used by Indian farmers and the application of learned scholar advice to “oil the body” before seeking donations were also mentioned.
The event commenced with an address by 7 regional and 11 Chapter heads, who highlighted their accomplishments and challenges, the importance of faster responses from India, logistic and event coordination and suggestions for new initiatives like Ravan Dahan, Ekal tree, and more.
The gala on Saturday evening was graced by State Rep. Matt Reeves and local donors from the Atlanta area.
Ekal Atlanta Chapter President Shiv Aggarwal sponsored the tailoring centre $30000
Harbans Singlaji sponsored tailoring centre $30000
Dr Nita Gandhi $15000
Dr Jagdish and Madhu Seth $15000
Harsha and Geeta Agadi $15000
The event was emceed by Atlanta Chapter volunteer, Neetu Singh. The event started with Musical performances featuring iconic songs like “Yeh Shaam Mastani,” “Pyaar Deewana Hota Hai”.
There were performances by the volunteers of Atlanta Chapter such as a song by Atlanta Chapter Sr VP Ajay Upadhyayaji, songs by other Chapter volunteer Suresh Iyer ji. Shyam Gupta ji sang songs like Yeh Chaand sa roshan chehra, Deewana hua badaal, chookar mere dilko.
NNKB presented a semi-classical piece on the song “Breathless”, which fuses both Kathak as well as modern and lyrical techniques. Jigna and her friends presented a riveting dance, and to mark the commencement of Navratri festival, a beautiful energetic garbo called “Vaagyo re dhole”!
The captivating fashion show directed by Sirisha and performed by her friends, represented a set of highly inspirational and motivating women who have made the change in their own way to themselves and to the society.
The magic show by Subhash Jain also enthralled the audience.
In addition to singing, Shyam Gupta also provided the sound systems for the event.
Atlanta Chapter Volunteers served delicious Indian foods under the leadership of Kusum Khuranaji. The team graciously provided scrumptious Indian breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tea and refreshments were provided by The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Atlanta. Attendees were also handed lunch packets for their travel back home.
The event left volunteers reenergized and motivated to continue their dedicated efforts to make a positive impact in the lives of children in need. The next year’s conference will be hosted in San Antonio, Texas, promising even more opportunities for growth and impact.
The event concluded with announcements of the new board members for 2024; a spiritual note with a mantra and Illuminating Hope for a Brighter Future!