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The benefit event on June 7 features a triple bonanza:  a play by YGeeM, music by Ilayaragam, and a comedy by AABA.  The event benefits two organizations—Akshaya Trust and India Literacy Project, and encourages and supports local talent.
An assessment of the modern times entrenched in various gadgets, and gently creating a reverence for the ways of the old is not an easy task.  This is what the science fiction based comedy Tamil play Swadeshi Ayya aims to achieve. It is directed by theater and film artist YGee Mahendraa.
The play talks about the anguish of Shankararaman in dealing with the change in times.  His continual reminders and advice to stick to old world culture annoy his family to such an extent that they decide to send him to an old age home. Bitterly hurt by their attitude, he, along with a scientist friend, uses the concept of going back in time to ‘kidnap’ his family through time to the Madras of 1945. What did the adventures of the family during the pre-independence era, their encounters with varied people, and a special meeting with Mahatma Gandhi result in?
Bay Area based music band, Ilayaragam will present Invoked, a soul soothing live music concert, presenting songs through the core elements of orchestration that go with the vocal element. Weaved around the finesse of the great composers of our times, the trinity of MS Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraja and AR Rahman.  Gopal and Rangarajan of Ilayaragam will perform the evergreen classics of these composers.
Amateur Artists of Bay Area (AABA) is a theater group formed by artists Ashok Subramanyam, TT Ravi and TS Ram. Their first play was Vada pOchE, and their second venture is the short skit Kasi Halwa to be staged for this benefit.

The terrible sight of raw hunger and homelessness made Narayanan Krishnan forgo a lucrative job abroad and stay back in his hometown of Madurai and start on his mission of eradicating homelessness and helping the helpless, one district at a time. Thus, Akshaya Trust was founded in 2003 to provide shelter and tend to the forsaken, mentally ill and sick people left on the streets of India. They began in the city of Madurai.  To this day, Akshaya continues to serve the helpless and homeless everyday throughout the year.  In Narayanan Krishnan’s words, “When you combine the actions of many passionate individuals, the results can be monumental.”
India Literacy Project (ILP) was founded in 1990 by a group of Indians inspired by Parameshwar Rao, a nuclear scientist trained in the United States who returned to India in 1967 to dedicate his life to improving lives of the rural poor in India. Today ILP is an active organization with over 100 volunteers in the United States and in India. With the help of individual and corporate donors, ILP is raising awareness to achieve 100 percent literacy in India. ILP has gained significant influence through its success of developing effective models of intervention that can be replicated anywhere in India.  Key areas are quality education programs for children with sustained enrollment, and development programs for women focused on functional literacy and job-training skills.  An example of the ILP’s success is the project in Poonamallee of Tiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu, which helped influence governmental changes on a statewide scale.
Latha Kalaga of Akshaya and Venki Venkatesh of ILP are the forces behind these organizations in the United States.

June 7, 4 p.m. Carrington Hall, Sequoia High School, 1201 Brewster Ave., Redwood City.  Tickets online at (408) 892-9907, (510) 579-7541, (510) 406-0047. Donate at

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...