Indo-American News: June 2, 2023

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • Indo American News 2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77077 • 713.789.NEWS (6397) • Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News Published weekly from Houston, TX W E D D I N G S , S P E C I A L E V E N T S , T E N T E D E V E N T S , O U T D O O R C O U R T Y A R D 3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y , T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a . c o m Friday, June 2, 2023 | Vol. 42, No. 22 $1 See article on Page 2, photo collage on Page 3 CRY Houston Gala, Neelam Kothari Take National Total Over $1M

CRY Houston Gala, Neelam Kothari Take the National Total Over $1M

houston: Bollywood actress Neelam Kothari Soni found herself in the starring role of a lifetime this past month – albeit quite different from any she’s played over her 40-film career, or her recent comeback thanks to Netflix’ “Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Lives” reality series.

As the guest of honor for Child Rights and You (CRY) America’s 2023 Gala series, Neelam led the charge toward a “box-office blockbuster” of a fundraiser series that netted over $1 million toward life-changing support for underprivileged children in India and the U.S.

CRY America is a US nonprofit that supports projects in India and the U.S. that ensure access to education and healthcare for underprivileged children, as well as protection from child labor, early marriage and trafficking. Since 2004, with the support of over 25,000 donors and over 2,000 volunteers, CRY America has impacted the lives of 786,985 children living across 5,027 villages and slums through support to 90 projects in India and the US.

CRY America Gala events ran from April 28 through May 21 in Seattle, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City and Houston, raising a total of $1.08 million toward 40 projects in India and the U.S. currently supported by the nonprofit. Titled “YOU are the ‘Y’ in CRY”, the galas trained the spotlight on the donors, project partners and media supporters who have been integral to establishing CRY America as a leading child-rights organization.

Dina Patel, Fundraising Manager of CRY Texas was ecstatic about the Gala at the Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria held on Sunday, May 21. “We raised more than $300,000 for the children and communities we serve. We are extremely grateful to all of the donors, sponsors, volunteers and attendees.”

In addition to Neelam Kothari Soni, the Gala honored long-time radio celebrity Meena Datt. Gala Chairs Juuhi and Prakash Ahuja, were aided by national advisory board members Dharam Bali and Juuhi Ahuja; the Texas Advisory Board, Gala Committee, and Texas Gala Manager, Chetan Patel.

“The CRY America team - Shefali Sunderlal, Patrick D Bocco, Lipika Sharma, Supritha Shetty and Communications team in India made this a labor of love and passion.

Entertainment was by Sitarist Rishab Rikhiram Sharma playing contemporary sitar fusion music and by Ekta Popat of Storytellers School of Dance who performed colorful and intricate dance numbers.

Neelam urged gala attendees to open their hearts (and, adding playfully, “your wallets”) and do-

nors heeded her earnest requests to “make CRY happy, make the children happy – and make Neelam happy,” contributing generously.

CRY America CEO Shefali Sunderlal credited the Dinner Committees, volunteers and staff for making the gala series a huge success. She said, “Our donors ensured that thousands of children will have a better future with their generosity.”

In addition the gala featured a description of CRY projects by Lipika Sharma on the work in India. A young beneficiary of the Kolkata project Sanlaap, Kishan, joined by video to talk about his journey from being an at-risk orphan in the slum to becoming a youth leader in his community.

Kishan now mentors other children and is pursuing a masters degree in social work. In the past year, 70 formerly at-risk children passed their school exams. Additionally, over 30 adolescents rescued from the sex trade have been linked to livelihood resources.

The Houston Gala featured a live auction conducted by Dr. Subodh Buchaar featuring a violin bass guitar autographed by Paul McCartney; a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey; a Star Wars cast movie poster; dinner at Musafeer restaurant; a Llardo piece and dinner at Kiran’s restaurant.

As no Indiafocused event would be complete without a bombastic Bollywood finale, the gala wrapped up with guests and performers crowding the dance floor in a jubilant show of solidarity for child rights.

Neelam hit the dance floor herself and mingled with the guests.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • June 2, 2023 2
Gala chairs Juuhi and Prakash Ahuja receive award from Dr. Raj Bhalla. Radio host Meena Datt receives award from Guest of Honor Neelam Kothari.
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • June 2, 2023 3 CHARITY

Fort Bend Interfaith Council Hosts Dinner & Dialogue

Kashmiri Biradari Celebrates Jyestha Ashtami

houston: Jyeshtha Ashtami commonly known as ‘Zyetha Aettham ‘ in Kashmiri is a festival of Mata Ragnya Bhagwati held every year in Kashmir at KHEER BHAWANI Temple,Tulmula.

This auspicious day falls on the eight day of bright half ( waxing fortnight ) of Jyeshtha month of Hindu Soli-lunar calendar.

The historic shrine of Goddess Ragnya (Kheer Bhavani or Ragnya Bhavani Mata) is one of the most revered Hindu temples of Kashmir. It is said that Mata Ragnya, a vaishnav incarnation of goddess Durga resides here. She is

also Maa Triporsundari incarnate herself.

This year Zyetha Aetham festival falls on Saturday, 27th May 2023 in USA. Hundreds of devotees from across Texas from the Kashmiri Pandit community attended the age old festival at Houston, Texas with full gusto and vigour. A traditional Yagnya / Homa was performed accompanied by devotional bhajans at the Hindu Worship Society temple at Houston. After the completion of Yagnya, authentic Kashmiri satvic bhojan including Kheer was also served to all the devotees.

houston: Over 100 representatives from 13 Fort Bend faith communities came together last week for the annual Interfaith Dinner and Dialogue. Sponsored by the Fort Bend Interfaith Council, the dinner is a chance for people of all different faiths to break bread together and learn something about each other’s religions.

“It was fascinating to learn about the things that we have in common,” said one attendee. “But it was also interesting to learn about some of the practices and beliefs that are unique to certain faiths.”

Horizon Baptist Church in Mis-

souri City was this year’s host congregation. Religions represented included Baha’I, Muslim, Buddhist, Methodist, Hindu, Baptist, Ismaili Muslim, Jain, Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Sikh, Catholic, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian.

The Fort Bend Interfaith Council was organized as a way to help

people of different faith communities meet and work with each other in a meaningful way. Each year the Fort Bend Interfaith Council sponsors an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service in November, Martin Luther King Youth Day of Service in January, and the Interfaith Dinner and Dialogue in the spring.


Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • June 2, 2023 5 IN MEMORIUM
From left: Ghasem Bayet, Bahai (2 and 3rd can not identify) Valerie Tolman, Thoreau Unitarian Universalist; Aresha Davwa, Ismaili Muslim; Rachana Shah, Hindu; Bhupender Singh, Sikh; Cyra Kango, Zorastrian; John Viu, Bhuddist; Anthea Pierre from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Pramod Bengani Jain; Aswin Dave, Hindu; John Strader, Horizon Baptist Church
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IndiaTX Announces Overwhelming Response to Indo-American Trade Show at Stafford Centre

houston: IndiaTX, a leading platform for Indian-American businesses, is proud to announce the Indo-American Trade Show, the largest trade show of its kind in Houston, TX. The two-day event will take place on 09th and 10th June at the Stafford Centre and is expected to host over 10,000 attendees. The event will bring together Indian-American business leaders and decision-makers from various industries to showcase their products and services, connect with potential clients, and establish valuable partnerships.

The Indo-American Trade Show will feature 50+ exhibitors from various industries, including prominent companies such as MassMutual, Joy Alukkas Jewellery, Power Home Remodelling, Deep Indian Kitchen, Bzach, Peacock Restaurant, Leaf Filter, Bytelink Systems, Bellows Systems and many more. The two day show includes many speakers providing industry insights on a variety of topics. The event promises to be a great networking opportunity for the Indian-American business community.

“The response to the IndoAmerican Trade Show has been

overwhelming, with almost all our booths sold out,” said Mr. Rajan Thomas, the founder of IndiaTX.

“It’s inspiring to see the community’s excitement and support for this event. We have just a few booths left, and we’re even considering expanding the exhibitor area to accommodate more people.”

The event is set to be the largest trade show of its kind in Houston, and will bring together IndianAmerican business community leaders and decision-makers. The organizers plan to host many events and invite keynote speakers to talk on a variety of topics. Over 10,000

attendees are expected, making it a great opportunity for IndianAmerican businesses to showcase their products and services to a highly targeted audience.

IndiaTX is also giving brands an opportunity to advertise their company at the event. This is a unique opportunity for companies to showcase their brand to a highly targeted audience.

Interested businesses are encouraged to act fast, as only a few booths and advertising opportunities remain. To participate, please visit or call (713) 999 5352.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • June 2, 2023 6

Houston IT Firm Techwave Earns President’s Volunteer Service Award

houston: Techwave, a prominent global IT and engineering service firm, receives the prestigious “President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA)” in recognition of its unwavering commitment to volunteerism and community service. This esteemed accolade highlights our steadfast dedication, honoring our employees for their positive impact on communities globally and serving as an inspiration to others. It serves as a testament to our resolute dedication in confronting and effortlessly tackling the pressing challenges.

Techwave prioritizes volunteerism and community service, encouraging every Techwavian to contribute to the betterment of the community. One of our notable initiatives includes partnering with the Houston Food Bank and America’s Grow-a-row for a Seed to Table initiative. Techwavians actively participated in various stages of the food chain, such as planting seeds, harvesting crops, and distributing food to local families in need. We covered the associated expenses, including seeds, crop management, packaging, and transportation, demonstrating our commitment to making a difference.

In addition, throughout the year, Techwavians enthusiastically volunteered their time and effort to assist the Houston Food Bank in providing nutritious food to individuals in the Greater Houston area

who are grappling with chronic health conditions as part of their Food for Change Program. During the challenging times of the Covid pandemic, Techwave launched the Feed the Frontline initiative, where our team personally showcased support to frontline workers and restaurants that were impacted by the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Speaking of the Celebration, Mr. Raj Gummadapu, CEO of Techwave said, “We are happy and delighted to be honored with the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award. This recognition truly humbles and honors our team at Techwave. It underscores our unwavering commitment to giving back and creating a positive impact in communities worldwide. We firmly believe that through the power of volunteerism, we can effectively address the pressing challenges our world faces today”

Adding to it, he said “Our employees have consistently demonstrated their passion and dedication by actively engaging in various community initiatives, volunteering their time and expertise to make a lasting difference. We take immense pride in our employees, whose efforts have transcended local boundaries, making a global impact and inspiring others to join our cause. Their dedication and passion have touched communities far and wide, serving as a catalyst for positive change.”


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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • June 2, 2023 7
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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • June 2, 2023 8 COMMUNITY COMMUNITY MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A CRIME In partnership with The Harris Center and law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office ensured 4,000+ mentally ill, non-violent offenders received mental health treatment instead of going to jail. If someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call Harris Center for Mental Health at 1-713-970-7000


D.A.V. School Wins PSIA State Championship for Second Year in a Row

houston: D.A.V Montessori & Elementary School Wins the PSIA State Championship for the second year in a row!!!

We totally earned bragging rights as our brilliant students won the PSIA Elementary Division State Championship 2023 with 24 awards in various categories. Of the winners, eight placed 1st, eight placed 2nd, and three placed 3rd. Thank you to Doug Ray for coming out to present the trophy. Thank you to all the teachers for all their hard work as they worked tirelessly with the students after school, helping them prepare for the District & State meet.

19th May 2023 was an exciting day at DAVMES as we got ready for an in-person celebration after a long time. We won the PSIA State Championship again & honoring our graduating 5th graders, we had a lot to celebrate!!

The celebrations began with prayers by our 2nd to 5th graders under Acharyaji’s guidance followed by the melodious songs by Ms. Smriti’s music students.

We are so proud of each & every one of our 7 graduates. It was emotional to hear them speak about their personal journey & experiences at DAVM and the high regard & love they have for their teachers & peers.

Continuing with our tradition of honoring & recognizing the teachers for their service & commitment to the school, we honored Ms. Sukhinderjit Kataria (10 years), Ms. Preeti Rana (10 years), Ms. Geeta Kadakia (5 years). A special shout out to Paresh Desai ji, our school driver who completed 7 years of service & has

not taken a single day off. We also recognized Ankur Kadakia for all the volunteering he has done over the years.

Our talented teachers hit the ball right out of the park with the brilliant show they put together. Each performance from the preschoolers to the Elementary students was unique & showcased such a wide range of items. The Yellow class students taught us a beautiful lesson about education & its ability to empower us & improve our lives. The Blue class students left the audience spellbound as they came on stage & told the story of our solar system. K.G students mesmerized the audience & transported us all back to India as they showcased India’s strength & pride. They showed their support for India by joining the move Har Ghar Tiranga. It was a trip down memory lane for most of us as the 1st Graders presented a “Commercial Break” from the 90’s.

The 2nd & 3rd graders danced to the song Believer by Imagine Dragons. The finale of the show was a skit by the 4th & 5h graders with an important message, to try & give your best without worrying about the outcome.

We were honored to have the famous radio host Meena Dutt ji, join us in our celebrations.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 • June 2, 2023 9

‘Mughal-e-Azam’ Play at NYC’s Times Square with Stunning Flash Mob

new yorK City: The USA’s iconic Times Square transported New Yorkers back in time with its Bollywood movie magic. ‘Mughal-E-Azam: The Musical’, a Broadway show is here in the USA with its 13-city tour. Offering New Yorkers a glimpse, the Mughal-eAzam play group transformed the street with a mesmerising flash mob as dancers gracefully performed the iconic song “Jab Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya”.

While the 13-city tour of ‘Mughal-E-Azam: The Musical’ kickstarted in Atlanta, the short glimpse in Times Square was what caught everyone’s eyes. Feroz Abbas Khan’s ongoing play tour based on the classic film by K Asif is here in the USA to take visitors on a journey back in time to the Mughal era. Dressed in beautiful white and red-hued anarkalis, the dancers presented a flash mob on Times Square.

As the vintage score, “Jab Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya” played, they beautifully performed a Kathak number. Onlookers across various nationalities watched in awe as the dancers twirled gracefully and the

iconic Hindi song melted into their hearts. The official account of the play shared a reel of the same. In the caption, they mention that the Broadway-inspired musical first originated in India to immortalise the love for the classic film Mughal-e-Azam.

In their words, wow, it has reached a major milestone. Elegant Kathak dancers presented a stunning flashmob for the ex-

clusive promotions of the show’s North American tour. The director of the Mughal-E-Azam play, Feroz Abbas Khan revealed to Outlook India that the dancers created a carnival-like atmosphere on Times Square. They are now looking forward to bringing this epic musical to a diverse global audience in the USA.

Actor, Rajesh Jais who gave the voice-over for the play stated to In-

diaTimes that ever since its inception in 2019, they’ve done over 300 shows. In his words, this time it was very special as the artists performed at the coveted Times Square.

Houston Masala Radio’s Sunil Thakkar was at Times Square to serve as the emcee. He is expected to perform a similar function during the play’s tour of the US.

“Mughal-e-Azam” is a choreographed Broadway-style Indian musical that pays an extravagant homage to the 1960 Bollywood film. This large-scale stage production premiered its North American tour in Atlanta. I saw it on the Memorial Day weekend.

I remember Feroz Abbas Khan’s evocative play Tumhari Amrita, and I was curious to see how he would interpret K. Asif‘s “Mughal-e-Azam.” It was surreal to experience Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni’s soundtrack and lyrics echoing in the Cobb Auditorium. The songs were sung live by the singers to a pre-recorded orchestral and choral score.

The LED screen, projection and stage display of the court scenes, shish mahal, and the war sequences were commendable. The actors conversed in Urdu and Hindi with unforgettable lines. Two-sided screens displayed English subtitles. But for me and many who have the dialogues, songs and even expressions of the much loved original “Mughal-e-Azam” memorized, it was like being in a mesmerizing dream. -- American Kahani

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, june 2, 2023 •
June 2, 2023

‘Godday Godday Chaa’: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

It’s hard to imagine weddings today without the participation of women. Yet, sadly, in the not-sodistant past, there was a time when traditionally in Punjab, women (especially in the villages) did not accompany the baraat (groom’s wedding procession). The latest Punjabi release, Godday Godday Chaa examines this commonly observed practice, wherein women would stay behind and be denied a part in the merriment.

Directed by Vijay Kumar Arora, whose last release Kali Jotta (2023) took a hard look at patriarchy and gender violence, Godday Godday Chaa delves into the myriad ways in which societal norms and toxic masculinity shrivels the lives of women, suffocating them and denying them the ability to just be themselves. However, unlike the former, this is a more light-hearted, entertaining take on the issue.

Sonam Bajwa (Rani) is an educated woman who wishes to pursue her studies and get a job but she is married off instead to Bagga (Gitaj Bindrakhia). When she reaches her in-laws’ home, she realises that the women long to be included in wedding festivities but society (basically men) does not permit them to do so. So, they are relegated to their homes, making do with leftovers, unable to partake in the lavish feast, dance and ribaldry and are expected to be content watching videos of the festivities.

Although the film is over-dramatised in parts, the issue is one that deserves attention.

Sidhu’s writing beautifully captures the lives of women, their simple desires and their ability to innovatively turn the patriarchy on its head by playing the victim to the hilt. One particular scene where Nirmal Rishi and Rupinder Rupi talk about the helplessness of women who are simply cattle to be led by their husbands, is simply ingenious! Sidhu also balances scenes of toxic masculinity by presenting the possibility of a different kind of marriage in the union between Rani and Bagga.

Bajwa has wonderful screen presence and Tania is hilarious with her over-the-top histrionics. Gitaj Bindrakhia, who was seen in an intense role in Moh (2022), too is effective in his role. The supporting cast deserves a special shout out as they play a huge role in creating the perfect atmosphere for the film.

The music of the film is memorable with the fun wedding celebration song “Nazaare”, the romantic track “Vekho Vekho Chand Nu” and the peppy “Sakhiye Saheliye”.

The issue touches Rani’s heart and she decides to take up the cudgels for women and bring about a significant change in their lives. However, it is no mean feat and despite the women in the village getting together to accomplish their mission, they face fierce resistance from the men.

Written by Jagdeep Sidhu of Qismat (2018) and Sufna (2020) fame, the film transports us to yesteryears, to the era of the radio, VCR and landline telephones wherein a wire could be simply cut to disrupt communication!

Channeling nostalgia through popular Hindi films, especially those of Madhuri Dixit, makes for some hilarious dialogues and scenes. While the comedy makes for many rib-tickling moments and the dialogues are witty and punchy, the film poignantly brings forth the plight of women as silent sufferers, and criticises the society that condones patriarchal violence.

Sonam Bajwa and Tania shine in the film and Arora directs their performances perfectly. This is the second time that the two leading ladies have come together in a film after Guddiyan Patole (2019).


This fun entertainer with a social message is sure to draw big crowds at the box-office.

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Cast: Sonam Bajwa, Tania, Gitaj Bindrakhia, Gurjazz, Nirmal Rishi Director: Vijay Kumar Arora Rating: 4 stars -- Indian Express
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