Of all the ballrooms across the city Saturday night, certainly none was more colorful than the Pratham Gala at the Hilton Americas-Houston. The packed space was awash in bold and beautiful hues thanks to the sold-out crowd of Pratham supporters who raised more than $1.4 million dollars for the organization dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children, youth, and women in India through education.
The sold-out event was a mix of glam and truly heartfelt moments, thanks to the impressive women featured at the gala.
Bollywood star and former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen wowed the crowd, many of whom clamored around her taking selfies along the way. She encouraged guests to follow her on Instagram for glimpses of her everyday life while stressing the importance of education for all. “Education is a birthright for every single life. None of us live in isolation,” Sen said. “If you want to understand compassion you have to have empathy.”
Sen took her own advice and acted as impromptu translator for Sanjana Das, a young woman who attended Pratham schools and was able help support her family while working in the hospitality industry. Her testimony brought many in the room to tears, prompting shouts of “You Go Girl!” while she was speaking.
“Pratham gave me wings and a backbone,” Das said.
Before the evening began, both the United States and Indian national anthems were sung and the Rice Rasikas dance troupe performed. KTRK Channel 13 meteorologist Casey Curry served as the evening's mistress of ceremonies.
Those spotted in the crowd included Consul General Anupam Ray, Pratham USA chairman Deepak Raj, Pratham Houston president Ash Shah, vice president Asha Dhume, Pratham USA CEO Rukmini Banerji., Dr. Aashish Shah and Roseann Rogers with their son Nikil Shah, Carl Hahn, Sharan Gahunia, Ruchi Mukerjee, Smita Singh, Pankaj and Asha Dhume, Rukmini Banerji, Riya Varadhachary, Pooja Vettical, Mini V, Simran Kapoor, and Sandhay Ayyar.