Newsletter August 2004

Fund raising events

As reported in the July edition of the Ekal News, the musical duo of Shri Ashok Pandey and Sushil Baweja have been mesmerising audiences with their masterful renditions of bhajans and other musical scores throughout the USA. We bring you reports of their concerts from two of the regions.

Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia and West Virginia Chapter of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation celebrated its year 2004 fundraising event from 14-20 th of June. During this time artists performed at four different locations. Ekal volunteers had organized all four events. In Maryland Shashi Shrivastav highlighted the value of volunteerism and the impact of financial donation in sustaining the efforts of children in need of education. These values are universal and are upheld and propagated in an economically strong country such as US. In this reference she praised the services of Maya Angelou public charter school in Washington, DC where the average costs of $25,000 per child per year is covered by donation and 60 full time volunteers check the homework each night. She impressed upon the audience to render this kind of support to EKAL, so that millions of illiterate children residing in India’s rural areas could take part in shaping the future of our motherland.

In Maryland the evening’s guest of honor, Swami Dheerananda of the Washington DC Chinmaya Educational Mission, delivered a subtle tribute to Ekal’s work in his presentation, “The Power of Thought”. He brought the complex concept of how our “Thought” shapes our “Destiny” through the path of action and knowledge.

With this background to seek support for Ekal Vidyalaya the world-class musicians Ashok Pandey and Sushil Baweja took the crowd to heaven with their melodious musical performance. They captivated the audience with a nice blend of traditional voice, harmonium and tabla. In contrast to the highly scripted and minutely choreographed routines favored by some professional musicians, Pandey and Baweja ‘s performance demonstrated a casual, relaxing flair that was more impressive for its effortlessness. Drawing from a vast repertoire of classical bhajans and ghazals, the two began with lyrics drawn from the revered poet Tulsidas. They later even ventured so far as to take song suggestions from the audience. Baweja, famed for his excellence with both voice and the harmonium, encouraged the audience to sing certain lines of popular songs, and often took a break from singing to address the audience directly. Pandey mesmerized the audience with his ability to reproduce the “Mahabharat” battlefield music in his tabla. In brief moments between songs, he demonstrated a vast array of dynamics and rhythms on his simple set of hand drums.

Both artists paused at key points to share insights with the audience. Pandey reflected that “Indian music is feelings, the tabla provides only the vibrations”. Baweja added occasional touches of humor in impeccable and often acrobatic Hindi.

A Charity Musical Evening program was held under the auspices of
Ekal Vidyalay Foundation of U.S.A., Chicago Chapter at Temple Judea, Skokie
last Sunday,Aug 1st,2004 for the benefit of their vast project currently under way in India
with a goal of setting up 100,000 one-teacher schools in the tribal areas of the
country.The function began with the lighting of the traditional lamp, symbolizing
enlightenment and success by Dr. Bharat Barai.
Artists Sushil Baweja and Ashok Pandey toured the tri-states areas
covering Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa and staged shows in Bloomington, Peoria and
Iowa City besides Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. In Skokie another eminent and
popular singer, Malini Avasthi joined the troupe. Excelling each other in
displaying their talents they brought joy to the audience. Sushil Baweja and Malini
Avasthi complemented each other in singing some of the most desired devotional
songs and ghazals.

Besides the generous donations by Bharat and Panna Barai, pledges for nearly 40 schools were received during this tour.


Tour of Shyam ji

Shyamji Gupta embarks on a tour of the USA and Canada on the 28th of August,2004. His trip would be covering 11 cities in the USA.Besides the US & Canada he would also be covering some countries of Europe including the UK, Germany, Belgium & Holland. The purpose of the trip is to motivate and monitor the working of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation & to promote the formation of new chapters in hitherto untapped regions of the world.We wish him all the success in his endeavours.


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