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Music in the Time of Covid: A.R. Rahman to be Honored at Children’s Hope India Gala

Music in the Time of Covid: A.R. Rahman to be Honored at Children’s Hope India Gala

  • ‘Ragas & Rhapsodies: A Virtual Celebration of Resilience’ will also feature Ila Paliwal and celebrity chef Vikas Khanna

In this grim time of the pandemic, what can be more joyful than having the iconic A.R. Rahman visit you in your home, on the wings of music, along with singer Ila Paliwal and the celebrity chef Vikas Khanna.

All three luminaries embody hope and resilience and are the perfect guests for a time when there’s such uncertainty and depression across so many countries. They are being honored at the Children’s Hope India Gala, appropriately titled ‘Ragas & Rhapsodies – A virtual Celebration of Resilience.’

In these times of quarantine and social distancing, this well-loved and much anticipated annual gala is being held not at its usual Pier Sixty location in Manhattan but is being brought virtually to you in your very own home. Where 500 movers and shakers used to gather in a glittering setting facing the Hudson River, the event now has a very important audience of one – each one of you in the intimacy of your own surroundings.

As you may know, Children’s Hope India is a nonprofit organization dedicated to children’s health and education, and I am a co-founder of this 28-year-old organization. The pandemic has been a great challenge to the vulnerable children in our 20 projects in India and as we try to address the many problems of lost family incomes, distance learning and food insecurity, we on the board of Children’s Hope have had the added challenge of raising funds for our projects without being able to hold a large live fundraising event.

Our solution has been to gather our supporters in an innovative virtual gala – it is on Sunday, October 4 at 7pm EST, with a second streaming of the gala for Indian supporters on October 5 at 6pm IST. It can be seen on Facebook and YouTube and is free with registration. We hope you’ll make any small donation and so make it a celebration for the children too, during this pandemic. We have been so grateful to have the support of A.R. Rahman who is such a whole-hearted supporter of children’s possibilities and their potential.

Reena Ninan, noted TV reporter and anchor, is CHI ambassador and will co-host this VIP event to benefit children and families from vulnerable and marginalized communities, with a special focus on fundraising for education, wellbeing and nutrition outreach programs.

“In the wake of the pandemic, the communities we serve have had to adapt to ever-changing and challenging circumstances, but they have continued to display an inspiring resilience,” says Dina Pahlajani, CHI’s president and co-founder. “The need is interventions and community outreach programs that ensure at-risk children have access to education, mental health and nutrition support, along with medical care.”

‘Ragas & Rhapsodies: A Virtual Celebration of Resilience’ features performances from some of today’s most innovative and beloved champions of the arts and their power to heal, connect, and inspire in the current crisis. This includes exclusive interactions with A.R. Rahman, Ila Paliwal, Vikas Khanna with Ram Sundaram, Co-chair of Child Mind Institute and a champion for children’s mental health.

There will also be two lively performances from East and West: Aatma Performing Arts, a professional dance company and award-winning dance institution specializing in Indian and western dance forms; the Yale Whiffenpoofs, the world’s oldest and best known collegiate a cappella group.

Children’s Hope India will present its 2020 Global Icon and Humanitarian Award to Oscar and Grammy-winning composer and humanitarian A.R. Rahman. Vocalist Ila Paliwal is being honored with the 2020 Making a Difference Award, highlighting the message of hope celebrated in her work not only as a classically trained Indian vocalist, songwriter, composer, producer but also as a philanthropist. Paliwal released her latest album, The Earth Symphony, last month and donated a portion of album sales to CHI’s work to bring art and music education to vulnerable children.

The gala recognizes its 2020 Action Hero Honoree — noted chef Vikas Khanna for his steadfast commitment to delivering meals to vulnerable populations during the lockdown, including dry rations to some CHI communities in Jodhpur and Bhopal.

All proceeds from the gala will go toward the Children’s Hope India COVID-19 Relief Program. As Anuja Khemka, CHI’s executive director points out, “With the generosity of our community, we will provide digital curricula and remote learning for all students, innovative mental health, meals and care to help weather the storm created by COVID-19.” 

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To date, the program has already distributed 540,000+ meals, 15,000+ gloves and masks, and 2,500+ soaps, sanitizers and hand washing units to urban slums, rural villages and refugee settlements around India.

About Ragas & Rhapsodies

“Ragas & Rhapsodies: A Virtual Celebration of Resilience,” will take place on Sunday, October 4, 2020 live on Facebook at 7pm EST. A second showing will take place on Monday, October 5, 2020 at 6pm IST, also on Facebook. This hour-long, virtual event will be hosted by Reena Ninan, journalist and former CBS News correspondent; and is free with registration. All proceeds from the Gala will support COVID-19 relief. To register or learn more, please visit

Today, Children’s Hope India supports more than 20 projects and 300,000 children across India and the United States to improve children’s health and education prospects. To learn more, please visit

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who blogs at Lassi with Lavina.

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