In the series of Annual Ekal Concert 2007, Washington DC chapter of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation USA, has celebrated it on August 4th 2007. This series aims to present a healthy entertainment through arts and music simultaneously a resource of fund raising activity of a chapter/region.
Fundraising events are a way to seek generous contributions for one-teacher schools so that the benefit of education can be brought to the doorsteps of each child living in tribal and rural India. Indeed the world is fast becoming a family since Arch's young artist from Thailand, Taiwan, Spain, South Korea, South America, Germany and India have been traveling across USA as a group for months to stage "The Path to Peace" so that an Indian child can read and write. It is my hope that the Indian community in USA would extend its full support to the artist, value the subtlety, dedication and discipline of their art while sending their own contributions to Ekal in 2007.
At the August fundraising Rev. Mansfield "Kasey" Kaseman was our guest who spoke on behalf of founder and chairman Sri Raj Shah of Capital Technology Information Services (CTIS) in Rockville, Maryland. Rev. has served as a pastor of community ministries giving voice to conscience and serving human need in Boston, MA, New Haven, CT, Tallahassee, and Fl and for 26 years in Rockville, MD. Kasey is currently chief community services advisor at CTIS. A significant event in Kasey's life was when he was trained in Gandhi's non-violence to provide security for Martin Luther King, Jr. It is with gratitude for the fond memories and commitment to the vision of Ekal Vidyalaya that he spoke on August 4th. Rev and Smt.s. Kaseman also provided funds for Ekal School.
The performance entitled 'The Path to Peace' the Legacy Concept Series is inspired by the inner Journey of Mahatma Gandhi. A few of Mahatma Gandhi's eternal views on education are:
* "The drawing out the best in child's body, mind and spirit."
* "This very poor country of mine is ill able to sustain such an expensive method of education. Our state would revive the old village schoolmaster and dot every village with a school both for boys and girls. "(Mahatma Gandhi at Chatham House, London, October 20, 1931)"
* An education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, to assimilate the one and eschew the other, is a misnomer."
The real difficulty is that people have no idea of what education truly is. We assess the value of education in the same manner as we assess the value of land or of shares in the stock-exchange market. We want to provide only such education as would enable the student to earn more. We hardly give any thought to the improvement of the character of the educated. The girls, we say, do not have to earn; so why should they be educated? As long as such ideas persist there is no hope of our ever knowing the true value of education. (M. K. Gandhi True Education on the NCTE site).The "ARCH" artist used light, sound, dance forms and multi-media to communicate with the audience the concepts of truth, faith, fearlessness, ahimsa, satyagraha and freedom and democracy. The concept and choreography was by Sri Sridhar Shanmugam, Executive Director of Arch Worldwide. Sridhar has been both an international ambassador and a pilgrim for the arts. He was trained in the most prestigious school of dance from Tamil Nadu – India and later started working with Chandrasekhar, the legendary Dancer in 1983.
Andrew Sherman provided music for the event. His music has attracted praise from New York (NYTimes: "beautiful and sensitive playing") to Paris (Liberation: "Fabulous") and Australia (The Age: "a sound as pure as moonlight"). In addition to presenting his original ensembles, he has performed with a huge variety of major artists from Frank Sinatra, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, to New York's premier new music ensembles, ISCM, EOS Orchestra, Bang On A Can, MATA, and of course is well known for his work in the Philip Glass Ensemble. Sterman's concept of music is wholly new concept.
This year Washington DC had two fundraising events. First event was on June 16th at the India center in Charleston West Virginia and the second at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre 603 Edmonston Drive Rockville, Maryland 20851 on August 4th 2007. Both events were great success in all respects, particularly in terms of attendance and performance. About 150 people attended the Path to peace in West Virginia. About half were non Indo- American. This was very large audience given the relatively small size of the Indo American community in Charleston and represents good progress for broadening the support base for the Ekal Vidyalya program.
The performance was exceptional and was appreciated by the entire audience. The quality of the choreography, dancing and music was excellent. There was pin drop silence during the performance and the artists received an extended standing ovation. This was the first presentation of contemporary Indian dance in West Virginia and Maryland.
Sridhar Shanmugam and his group were amazing. Despite a long journey, short resting period cut even shorter by flat tire, the Arch group presented a wonderful exciting performance full of energy at West Virginia. Organizers from West Virginia and Washington DC Chapters are deeply appreciative of Arch's devotion to the cause of Ekal Vidyalaya. We extend our gratitude and best wishes to "The Arch" and it's artist.
Ekal DC youth and other volunteers worked tirelessly to make this event a success. Dr. Shanker Gupta coordinated the event. Special thanks are due to Sri Rameshwar Paul who prepared the brochure for the event, Dr. R.S. Dwivedi welcomed the audience, Dr. Sudhir Sekhsaria presented Ekal Power Point presentation and Dr. Rajiv Kumar gave vote of thanks. Following organizations were recognized as Friends and Supporters of Ekal in the August 4th brochure: Art of Living Foundation, Chinmaya Mission, DESI (U of MD), Durga Temple, Hindu Temple of Metropolitan Washington, India House of Worship, India School, Indian Medical Physicians Association, Jain Society of Metro DC Area, Marg Foundation, Natya Bharati, Rajasthali Association, Sri Mangal Mandir, Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, Tamil Association, Telgu Association of NA, TIE-DC, and Vedanta Center of Greater Washington. Ekal DC has launched an initiative to involve local organizations for supporting the noble cause of education. We request all the organizations to join hands with Ekal in irridicating illiteracy from tribal and rural India.