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Sonal Mukhi

The cool temperatures could not deter some 600 adults and children from celebrating Holi "The Festival of Colors" the way it is traditionally celebrated in India. An IDRF fundraiser, this fun-filled event was organized at Milan Restaurant and Banquet Halls in Shrewsbury on March 13th. While the participants had fun, they also had the satisfaction of knowing that their contribution was going to Ved Mandir, a non-governmental organization in Jammu & Kashmir working for the victims of terrorism.

The event was co-sponsored by Value Mortgage Corporation, Milan restaurant and India New England News.

The event started with cultural programs. IDRF showcased some extraordinary young, local talent. Popular local singers, Chitra Dixit and Ismael Kapadia, entertained the audience with foot-tapping numbers relevant to the festival of colors. "Bhumroo" and "Rang Barse" were the highlights. Bollywood Talent Competition winners "Pataka Group" danced to the film number "Koi Mil Gaya" in contemporary costumes. A group of four young girls performed a Dandiya dance in attractive traditional attire. Following them, the Satsang Balagokulam group welcomed the season of spring by dancing to the number "Rind Posh Mal". Local dance teacher Ranjani Saigal's students danced for the song "Maiyya Yashodha" in colorful costumes. The event ended with a lively dance for the super hit number "Mera Piya Ghar Aaya" performed by a couple of young girls. The entire show was a spectacular display of Indian tradition, culture and fine arts. The enthusiasm and effort of the parents and coaches that went into producing these programs are truly commendable.

Furthermore, twenty-five teams participated in the preliminary round of Antaakshari. Of those, five teams were selected to compete in the singing contest. The first-prize winners included both the Navrang and Darthmouth Dewaane teams, while the second-prize winners included Mauj team. Prizes consisted of gift certificates from Milan restaurant and CDs & DVDs from India New England.

After the cultural programs, Holi-Ka-Dahen, or bonfires and poojas, took place. This event then led to the main attraction, "Colors." The participants sprayed each other with colors and danced to the tunes of "Rang Barse" and "Dola Re Dola". They braved the chilly weather to enjoy this segment of the festivities for over an hour. More than 100 pounds of different colors were sprayed. Many children told the organizers that they had been looking forward to this event for a long time.

A prize distribution ceremony for the Boston area essay contest winners, which concluded in January, took place as well.

IDRF raised $3,300 in net proceeds through food sales, event sponsorships, and $5 event entry fees per adult. These proceeds have been sent to Ved Mandir for the construction of Balika Niketan, which provides food, education & shelter to orphaned girls who lost their parents due to terrorism and other causes. For many years, Ved Mandir has been running boys’ orphanages, old age homes, medical clinics, and schools. The construction of the girl’s orphanage, to be completed in October 2004, costs approximately $60,000.

Buoyed by the success of its events in the past, IDRF Boston is organizing two events, "The Sacred & the Sensuous" dance concert by Neena Gulati and Triveni Ensemble on April 25th, and the 4th annual Six-A-side Cricket tournament in July. Eight-two teams took part in this tournament last year, helping IDRF raise more than $10,000.

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