For Immediate Release

Raksha, Penn Masala Join Forces for Fundraiser
Benefit Gala Raises At Least $30,000


Atlanta, Georgia -- Monday, Oct. 4, 2004 -- Raksha, the Atlanta-based non-profit organization, and Penn Masala, a Hindi A Cappella group, joined forces Saturday, October 2, to host the sixth annual "Ek Shaam Raksha Ke Naam" (An Evening in the Name of Raksha) at Earthlink Live in midtown Atlanta.

The gala, Raksha's signature fundraising event, was attended by nearly 800 people and raised, according to initial estimates, at least $30,000. The event marked the second collaboration between Penn Masala and Raksha in as many years.

Between two sets of performances by Penn Masala, the evening included a presentation by Raksha on the upcoming vote -- scheduled for November 2 -- on a state Constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Georgia. Featuring spoken word vignettes by Raksha staff, Board members, volunteers, and activists, the performance focused on the impact such a ban would have on the civil rights of a vital part of the community.

The presentation also addressed the proposed CLEAR act -- a piece of legislation that would give local and state law-enforcement agencies the authority to enforce immigration laws -- and various aspects of the Patriot Act.

"In the name of true community-based collaborations, Raksha gave individuals affected by public policies the space and time to call on community members to do the right thing and challenge state-sponsored injustice," said Raksha staff member Priyanka Sinha. "It was heartwarming to see the eager and supportive audience response which speaks volumes about the great compassionate community we have in Atlanta."

Khurram Hassan, Raksha's Executive Board President, said he was pleased with the community's support and the successful collaboration with Penn Masala.

"Penn Masala had an immediate reaction of excitement from the 'Ek Shaam' audience last night and they never lost that connection. Penn Masala's combination of Desi and Western songs, of beats and melodies, and of humor and jokes, kept the audience excited through out the evening," he said. "Penn Masala's second partnership with Raksha ended with the same success as their first visit last year."

Penn Masala began in the spring of 1996 when several freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania decided to combine South Asian music with a western musical style. It is a rotating group of 12 to 14 members, and as they graduate, new members are recruited to join.

After two years of arranging music and performing around the United States, Penn Masala accepted a record deal to record an album. The group recently released its album, "Soundcheck," featuring the hit single "Na Tum Jano," and is working on its fourth release.

"We personally love Atlanta and we had a wonderful time the last time we were here," said Penn Masala's manager Samir Amrate. "So, when Raksha called and asked if we could work together again, it was a no-brainer."

After the evening's festivities ended, an after-party followed featuring DJ Sketch and DJ Bally.

Ek Shaam '04 was sponsored by a number of companies and organizations.

Utopian Events designed the stage production.

Some of the other sponsors included Bank of America, Georgia Pacific, Emdee Corporation, Indore Oil, Bhindi Jewelers, AirTran Airways, Coca Cola, Georgia Pacific, W Hotel, Norman Rashid and Diane Leonall, Annapurna Restaurant, Desi Masala, Khabar, Little India, Rivaaj magazine, and two anonymous donors.

Delta Air Lines and Global Groceries donated 100,000 SkyMiles each.

About Raksha
Raksha is a Georgia-based nonprofit support and referral network that promotes a stronger and healthier South Asian community through free and confidential direct services, education and advocacy.

More information about Penn Masala is available at their official Web site at www.pennmasala.com

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Opening Doors to a Stronger and Healthier South Asian Community
Raksha, Inc.
P.O. Box 12337
Atlanta, Georgia 30355

Phone Number | 404.876.0670
Help Line | 404.842.0725
Fax Line | 404.876.4525
Web | www.raksha.org