Event Information:

  • Fri

    MILPITAS, Calif. — A sold-out crowd of 500 packed the India Community Center here for its ninth annual gala Sept. 29


    MILPITAS, Calif. — A sold-out crowd of 500 packed the India Community Center here for its ninth annual gala Sept. 29 that raised over $700,000 and presented the much-awaited Seva awards that honor nonprofits for their work in mobilizing youth, innovation, contribution to the local community and scale of outreach.

    icc-gala2The Bollywood-themed gala, which was a mix of true cinema-style entertainment, glittering saris and Armani suits, got a dose of some real Bollywood with emcee Omi Vaidya, the Indian American actor whose 2009 Hindi movie “3 Idiots” was the year’s biggest grosser. Vaidya’s witty standup and trademark Hindi renditions were an instant hit with the audience, but the crafty actor stayed true to the cause of the evening in urging the community to support the ICC.

    ICC Board member Venky Ganesan cheered ICC supporters for their continued support to the popular event and spoke of the immense impact ICC has on our community as a platform for education, for supporting so many nonprofit programs, and for being a place that connects us with each other and our culture.“The ICC brings us, people like me and you, back to our roots. It gives me and my children a chance to experience our heritage together,” Ganesan said.

    “I’m touched and humbled by the outpouring of support for ICC from our community that I have seen this evening. We have raised an unprecedented amount of money this evening and this is truly gratifying,” added Tanuja Bahal, executive director of the ICC.

    icc-gala3The evening stayed true to its theme as the ever-popular ICC senior group got the audience howling with some seriously energetic gyrating to the tune of “I am sexy and I know it,” while UC-Berkeley singing group Dil Se brought the Bollywood twist to the tradition of a cappella.

    And while the Mona Khan Dance Company literally brought the “Bollywood Through the Ages” theme to life with its eclectic performance, the surprise element of the evening were the ICC board members and trustees who banded together for an impressive performance on the aptly-chosen “Desi Boys.”

    The highlight of the evening was the Seva Awards where a total cash prize of $20,000 was given to four nonprofits in the categories of Youth, Scale, Local Community and Innovation. The Seva awards are part of the Sevathon initiative, which is an annual walkathon that promotes the spirit of “Seva” or “Service” where participants can walk/run for any one of the 60-plus participating nonprofits.

    icc-gala5“We had 63 nonprofits in Sevathon this year…this is truly an event the captures the essence of the community and for me personally it has been a rewarding experience to meet these exemplary people who do so much for their community,” said Raju Reddy, ICC Board member and one of the Sevathon chairs. “From a high-tech engineer who left his lucrative career to eradicate curable blindness in India to a young mother who had tragic loss of her child and turned her personal tragedy into an opportunity to help other special needs children… these are the real heroes in our community whose stories need to be told. Seva awards arean effort to recognize this organization and the people behind these organizations,” said Reddy.

    Roshni, an organization that works to bring employability and life skills to bright girls from some ofIndia’s poorest households, won the Youth Award for an organization that has been founded by youth, led by youth or has active youth involvement.

    The Akshaya Patra Foundation (USA) that combines good management, innovative technology and smart engineering to deliver school lunches to millions of children in India at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in other parts of the world, won the Seva Award in the Innovation category.

    icc-gala6The Local Community award that recognizes an organization for serving the local Bay Area community was won by Narika, which works to prevent and eradicate domestic violence and exploitation in South Asian communities in the San Francisco Bay area