Bollywood Night, the annual fundraiser for the Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation, brings an exotic evening of dance and entertainment to the Helena Civic Center, 7 p.m. Oct. 12.
This fun night for all ages features Bollywood DJ Prashant Kakad and his accomplished troupe of dancers, who lead the crowd in a Jai Ho! Dance Party. Costumes are welcome and many partygoers don Bollywood or Indian attire for the evening. The event also includes live and silent auctions, an Indian photo booth and a bazaar.
TCEF Executive Director Karma Tensum says the annual event, now in its sixth year, evolved from a series of small Tibetan dinners and fundraisers that the organization once relied upon to raise funds.
“It was a lot of work and often for very little money,” he recalls. “So about seven or eight years back, at one of our board meetings, we decided to focus our energies on just one major fundraising event in a year.”
The board agreed that something splashy, fun and unique would fit the bill. “Someone suggested something related to Bollywood because of the inherent fun, music and dancing – that’s how we first conceived of Bollywood!”
The event now attracts anywhere from 300 to 500 attendees, often clad in colorful saris and turbans. Tensum believes the theme helps put the “fun” into fundraising, especially with Bollywood DJ Prashant Kakad. “He’s a gifted entertainer and he can teach the Bollywood dance moves like no one else,” says Tensum.
Plus, lead dancer Brittany Newton and the crew of Bollywood performers “bring a color, a rhythm and music that is totally different from what we have in Montana.”
Tensum, who rarely dances, says he’s even inspired to take to the dance floor and learn some new moves. “For me personally, I love to reconnect with all the wonderful people who support TCEF and it makes me smile to see them all dressed up in Bollywood clothing. I rarely dance but I do at our Bollywood Night event!”
The Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of the Tibetan culture and the education of its children in exile. Currently, the organization supports more than 100 children, including several college students, as well as nearly 100 Tibetan elders. In addition, TCEF is constantly engaged in educational projects, mostly in remote communities in India and Nepal.
“We are definitely transforming lives through education,” says Tensum. “We’ve helped so many children from remote, impoverished regions and families, children whose lives would have been so different without intervention through education.” He notes that some of those students are graduating and finding careers or engaging in further studies.
The annual Bollywood Night brings together a close-knit family of TCEF supporters and friends. “For me, it’s a high-energy night,” says Tensum. “My juices are flowing because it’s a big night for TCEF, but it can also be a lot of fun with the wonderful music and being with people who support your work – it makes me happy to see them having a great time!”
Heavy hors d’oeuvres and a collection of desserts from local Helena bakers are on the menu; a beer and wine bar is also available.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Call 406-461-8745 or visit tibetchild.org.