On Saturday, attendees of the Dhun concert in Statler Auditorium were regaled by the musical talents of Indian sitar player Ustad Shahid Parvez, and tabla player Janab Akram Khan. The evening concert featured classical Indian music, and was organized as a fundraising effort by Asha Cornell for educational projects in India. Well-known in his native India, Parvez demonstrated his skill with his sitar, a 17-stringed instrument, while Janab Akram Khan delighted the audience with his dexterity on the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument that consists of a pair of drums.
This fundraising event is one of the many events that Asha Cornell has held since its inception on campus in 1995. Giridhar Jothiprasad grad one of Saturday’s volunteers explained Asha’s mission of awareness.
“Asha was originally founded in 1991 by a group of University of California, Berkeley students, in order to catalyze socio-economic change in India through the education of underprivileged children. And though Asha primarily concentrates on education projects in India, we also work on other awareness projects as well. Last year, we brought over a documentary series that was filmed all over South Asia, not just in India,” he said.
With chapters all over the world, Asha has funded more than 600 projects in over 20 states in India. Because of its core volunteer base, the proceeds from Asha Cornell’s Dhun concert will go directly to fund projects in India. “One important thing about Asha is that we have zerp percent overhead, so any money raised [in this concert] goes directly to educational projects, apart from the fact that we have to pay the performers,” Jothiprasad said.
In addition to raising awareness about educational projects in India, Saturday’s concert brought classical Indian music to a diverse audience.
“[The concert] brings together music-lovers. It’s not just the people from India here [in Cornell] that have been supportive, but also the Ithaca community as well,” said volunteer Mansi Kasliwal ’05.
One of the concert’s attendees commented on the musicians’ lively musical improvisations. “I think [Parvez and Khan] had a really good on-stage chemistry. It was interesting to be exposed to a different mode of musical composition,” said Augusto Ferrer ’06.
In past years, Asha Cornell organized fundraising dinners where up to 60 people were invited to make home-cooked dishes from different regions of India. Last semester, the theme was “Children At Risk,” with fundraising targeted towards disabled and disadvantaged children. In addition to organizing individual fundraising events, Asha Cornell plans to collaborate with other organizations to better achieve its goals.
“One of the things we want to do for the future is to establish links with the United Way because then it’s easier to get the local community involved if we work through [them],” Kasliwal said. “We [are] also trying to build and sustain a long-term effective donor base where people donate on a monthly and yearly basis, so that Asha won’t rely entirely on fundraising, but can instead focus on expanding its existing projects, and developing new ones.”
Archived article by Kim Mok