Abdullahs Host Glitterati In Aid Of Kashmir's Children25 April 2010
New Delhi: Charity, glamour and a dash of politics rustled up a potent mix to promote the cause of children in Jammu and Kashmir affected by the 2005 earthquake as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and wife Payal hosted the political and social glitterati to a lavish dinner-cum-ball here. The tables at the Durbar Hall of the Taj Palace were paid for by the 150-odd guests and the proceeds went to Payal Abdullah's charity foundation Rahat, which is rehabilitating quake orphans, pregnant women, widows and destitutes, rendered homeless by the temblor. The focus of the organisation is education and mother-and-child care. 'Glamour and politics lend meaning to a charitable cause,' observed a guest as the first VIP couple trooped into the Shah Jahan Hall for pre-dinner cocktails Saturday night. The dress code was a fusion of power and the latest fashion on the couture street - high on sequins, chiffons, zardosi work, metallic shades and low cuts for women; while the men stuck to the formal black two-piece suits and trendy bandhgallas. Payal Abdullah shone in a deep purple chiffon sari and a matching halter-neck embroidered choli. A bouffant bob completed the look. Husband Omar and father-in-law Farooq Abdullah were attired in western-style bandgallas while her sons sported casual school blazers. The guest-list cut across Bollywood, the fashion industry, politicians and sports celebrities. While crowd-pullers like actors Sanjay Dutt, Rahul Bose, Pooja Bedi, designers Ritu Beri and Anjali Taneja and Olympic medallist Abhinav Bindra kept the media on its toes, the socialities were represented by the creme of the country's business fraternity and media barons. Politicians included the likes of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and several Congress MPs. But the thread that bound them all was compassion for humanity. 'Rahat helps underprivileged children. This year, we are trying to help children in Jammu and Kashmir. We are paying for the education of several children who have survived the earthquake and have set up schools in remote areas. We are also providing them basic healthcare. The children are coping well in the aftermath of the earthquake because they have the ability to bounce back,' Payal Abdullah told IANS. Rahat was set up in 2005, barely days after the earthquake that killed over 70,000 people. 'It was one of the earliest relief organisations to rush aid to the victims,' Payal said. In 2006, Rahat adopted Mohd Owais, a grade II student of the Air Force School in Jammu, who lost his father in the quake. Omar Abdullah said the fund-raiser, which would become an annual event from next year, 'was a token of gratitude to all those who have stood by Rahat for the last five years'. As the chief minister fielded volleys from an inquisitive media, actors Sanjay Dutt and Rahul Bose kept the lensmen busy. 'Recently, I completed a 50-day shoot for a movie 'Lamhe' in Kashmir. I came across several children who were still in the grip of trauma even after five years. I photographed them and handed a CD of the images to Omar to highlight their plight,' Dutt told IANS. The actor campaigns against cancer, addiction and children's empowerment. Rahul Bose said he agreed to compere the event after Payal briefed him about Rahat as the 'cause was close to my heart'. The actor manages his own organisation, Foundation of Children's Education, which works for underprivileged children. Olympic medallist Abhinav Bhindra, who set up his own charity platform to promote sports in villages and among underprivileged children in Chandigarh last week, said: 'I am happy to be associated with Rahat because I am a bit of a samaritan myself.'