- This year’s bash coincides with the foundation’s 25th anniversary of working on empowering children in rural India, particularly in the areas of livelihood, health, and menstrual equity.
Diwali will be coming early this year to New York City, as the Desai Foundation is gearing up for its annual gathering. To be held on Oct. 12 at HK Hall in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, ‘Diwali on the Hudson’ is expected to attract tristate area’s Indian American movers and shakers.
This year’s biggest draw is Indian American pop artist Rhea Raj, who will perform her latest release “Outside.” Produced by Lunchmoney Lewis, the single is going viral on Tiktok as the next international hot-girl anthem.
The charity gala will feature an open bar, music from DJ Suhel, and food from Desi Galli. All funds raised will go directly to long-term COVID relief efforts in rural India. This year’s Diwali bash coincides with the foundation’s 25th anniversary of working on empowering children in rural India, particularly in the areas of livelihood, health, and menstrual equity.
The annual event celebrating the festival of lights is the foundation’s effort to bring in the community to get involved with their work. “In my house, Diwali is a big holiday and there really wasn’t a public Diwali party 10 years ago,” Desai Foundation president Megha Desai told American Kahani. “So we wanted to have a Diwali party where we wanted not only the desi community but beyond that to be exposed to the celebration and learn a little bit about our work,” she said. “The idea is to have some fun and celebrate Diwali.”
Expressing excitement in hosting the glamorous event for the past 10 years, barring 2020, Desai reflected on the significance of Diwali, the festival of lights, and compared it to the work her foundation does on the ground to help elevate the women and children in India’s villages. It has 30 programs in several Indian states. The organization has two award-winning flagship programs: Asani Sanitary Napkin Program for menstrual equity; and Heroes for Humanity which which launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation is also celebrating the Clinton Global Initiative’s recognition of their work, particularly the Heroes for Humanity Initiative , Desai noted.
Established as a family foundation in 1997, the Desai Foundation converted to a public foundation a little under a decade ago. “Once we realized that our modules worked, we wanted to scale,” Desai said. “And the best way to do it was to bring people to the table, open our doors and bring in partners.” The foundation now serves 2,500 villages in 10 states in India.
Not only does Desai enjoys hosting the annual party, she also gets “a kick out of tapping into the next best thing and bringing that to the community.” That’s why “working with Rhea Raj and “getting to know her and her team was fun,” she added. The foundation has teamed up with some reliable partners and has been working with them for long, which also helps, she noted. “The other big task of planning an event like this is getting the word out and making sure people understand that now more than ever raising money for rural India is critical,” she stressed. Because at the end of the day it’s a party, but it’s a party for a purpose. So we want to try and make sure the people understand the why.”
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