Tapestry of Faiths Weave an Enchanted Evening and Honor Hindu Pioneers

IM 2in

Front row, sitting, from left:  Gita Gidwani, Shashi Mahajan, Madhu Gupta, Nirmal Mahajan, Sushma Mahajan, Neera Shetty and Anya Shetty, Shashi Mahajan, Aruna Mahajan, Deepali Shah and Shelly Mahajan
Back row, standing from left: Baldev Mahajan, Rajinder Mahajan, Vishaw Mahajan, Virendra Mahajan, Dev Mahajan, Nikhil Shetty, Rajesh Shetty, Narinder Mahajan, Ashok Gupta and Nihar Shah.

HOUSTON: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston held its seventh annual Tapestry Gala on Thursday, May 21 at the Hilton Americas Houston and raised $950,000.  The event celebrated Houston’s great diversity in cultures, ethnicities and faith traditions with guests of different religions, many wearing traditional ethnic clothing.  The evening raised funds for the organization’s many services with Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLC leading the way as Presenting Sponsors.

The Tapestry Gala was chaired by Paula Sutton and Bill Gross, Karen and Jay Harberg and Leena and Ash Shah with honorary chairs Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn. The evening honored Dr. Sushma and Devinder Mahajan with the Tapestry Award (see below), which recognizes community leaders who have shown remarkable dignity through tangible work for the betterment of Houston and the world. A large contingent of South Asian donors – 48 listed in the event program – support IMH’s work.

The evening also celebrated Elliot Gershenson, President and CEO of IMH with a touching retirement tribute given by Bill King and Frazier Wilson, Vice President of Shell Oil Company Foundation. Gershenson will be succeeded by Martin Cominsky who will take over reins on June 1.

IM 1in

Children from DAV Montessori performing.     Photos: Alexander Rogers, Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design

The mistress of ceremonies was the well-known Indian radio show host Meena Datt, who welcomed more than 750 guests to the ball, including, IMH Chairman Charles Foster and his wife Lily, Philamena Baird, Neda Ladjevardian, Harry and Marian Tindall, Diana Untermeyer, Regina Rogers, Ambassador Arthur Schechter, Fred and Kay Zeidman, Consul General of India Parvathaneni Harish, Reverend Bill Lawson, and Marie Bosarge.

Guests entered the ballroom which was adorned with lavender hydrangeas and peach roses generously donated by Kroger and arranged with crystal and candle centerpieces by Darryl and Company.  The evening consisted of a fabulous four course dinner of traditional Indian fare catered by Dawat Catering (owners Mahesh and Alpa Shah were present too) and a beautiful program celebrating diversity with a number of performances including violinist Achron Gabriel Maffuz-Anker, vocal pieces by Kenneth Gayle Productions, as well as Bollywood dancing by Infused Performing Arts and DAV Montessori School.

The event benefited IMH, a non-profit organization that brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration and service.  The organization provides four main services to the Houston area: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston, Refugee Services, Disaster Preparedness and Interfaith Dialogue.

                                        Jawahar Malhotra and Dr. Harish Chnadra contributed to this story

IMH Honors Devinder & Sushma Mahajan

Sushma and Devinder Mahajan are the founding members of the Arya Samaj of Greater Houston and the Vedic Culture Center. ASGH manages two schools: DAV Montessori School, a one-of-a-kind in North America, and DAV Sanskriti Sunday School. Devinder Mahajan has served as president of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha (Congress of Arya Samajs of North America) for four years and currently serves as a member Emeritus. Devinder is the founding president of Jeevan Prabhat USA, which looks after the boarding, lodging, and education of underprivileged children in India. He is also a founding member of the Mahatma Gandhi Library, serves on the board of Patanjli Yogpeeth, and is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Hindus of Greater Houston.

Dr. Sushma Mahajan is the past president of the Indo American Charity Foundation and has served on the board of Pratham for 10 years and on the board of IMH since 2008. Sushma and Devinder have two daughters and 5 grandchildren.

Devinder and Sushma were born and brought up in India. Devinder earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in structural engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He retired from Dow Chemical in December 1999 as an Associate Consultant.

Sushma received her medical degree from All India Institute of Medical Science and completed a specialization in pathology in Cleveland, Ohio. After practicing pathology for 30 years, she retired in 2005. During her career, she was on the faculties of the University of Texas-Houston, M.D. Anderson Hospital, and Texas Southern University.