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Charleston women bring India's Bollywood glamour home

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Six professional Charleston women are the force behind transforming the capital city on March 16 with the glamour and fun of Bollywood.

The third annual "Bollywood Night" is named for the hugely successful Hindi-language film industry synonymous with the beautiful people, glamour, food, fashion, music and dance of India.

Event Chairwoman Nilima Bhirud is effusive when she speaks about Charleston and her desire to support local charities with proceeds from the event. "Our families have prospered in Charleston," she says, "and we want to give something back."

Dr. Bhirud is an internist with Charleston Area Medical Center. Her organizing committee includes Madhu Chaturvedi, Jyoti Desai, Meenu Patel, Shoba Sampath and Varsha Vaghela. The women represent the medical, education, computer engineering, microbiology and financial services communities.

"We love Charleston!" Bhirud says. "This event is for anyone and everyone who wants to be exposed to a different culture."

Attendees of "Bollywood Night" 2013 will enjoy authentic Indian cuisine catered by the Saffron Patch, a restaurant in northern Ohio using 38 different herbs and spices in a wide range of dishes. Sampath is bringing silent-auction items such as jewelry and clothing from her recent trip to India, and entertainment will feature performers from Lee's Studio of Dance, a former Miss India pageant winner, a Zumba troupe from Huntington and traditional Indian dancing.

"Bollywood Night" has grown steadily over the past two years. In 2011, the first event at the India Center sold out at 200 tickets; in 2012, it sold out the Beni Kedem Temple at 450 tickets; this year, the women reserved Charleston Embassy Suites to procure space for 500 attendees, and tickets are going fast.

"Last year's attendees were pledging to buy tables of tickets for this year's event," Bhirud says. "We knew we would need a large space." She is grateful for the support the event has received each year, and adds that the India Center continues to sponsor "Bollywood Night."

Bhirud says her committee members have children who attended school in Charleston and went on to study at nationally recognized universities, often with international students from various advantaged countries like Saudi Arabia. Now in storied universities such as Princeton and Duke, she said these young people have thrived on their education from Kanawha County public schools.

Bhirud points out the ability to attend arts events and to take advanced-placement course options as among the advantages offered in Charleston that have served children in the Indian community so well. "Our children say to us, 'Mom, we never missed out on anything!'"

This year, 100 percent of the profits from "Bollywood Night" will be donated to the West Virginia chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure because one of the organizers recently lost a family member to breast cancer. In previous years, the "Bollywood Night" committee donated all proceeds to the Charleston YWCA domestic violence prevention programs. Bhirud says the organizing committee is open to considering requests from any local charity for support.

Tickets for "Bollywood Night" are 100 percent tax deductible and may be purchased online from Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Want to go?

WHEN: 6 to 11 p.m. March 16

WHERE: Charleston Embassy Suites

TICKETS: $75

INFO: www.komenwv.org

Reach Elizabeth Gaucher at Elizabeth.Gaucher@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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