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Tickets to annual Bollywood Night fundraiser close to selling out

Tickets to the annual Bollywood Night fundraiser are going fast and — if previous years are any indication — will sell out soon.

Dr. Nilma Bhirud started the fundraiser in 2011 after she noticed a lot of her friends were interested in Indian food.

She decided to arrange a dinner with Indian entertainment to raise money for local charities.

That year, Bollywood Night was held at the India Center along Corridor G. Each of the 280 seats sold out.

“It was very popular,” she said.

Organizers moved the event to a larger venue, the Beni Kedem Temple on Quarrier Street, for 2012’s event. There were 450 seats available but they sold out, too.

Last year Bhirud moved Bollywood Night to the Embassy Suites in downtown Charleston, which could accommodate 500 guests. The event again sold out.

This year’s event, coming May 17 to the Charleston Civic Center, is bigger than ever. There are 800 seats available but they, too, are going fast.

Event co-chairwoman Shoba Sampath said about 720 tickets have already been purchased. She says all the tickets probably will be gone by next week.

“Bollywood” is a popular term used to describe Mumbai, India’s film industry, but the word also has become shorthand for the large dance numbers usually featured in those films.

Bollywood Night 2014 will feature several different dance groups performing ballet, belly dancing, Latin dance and Bollywood-style dance numbers. There also will be a fashion show featuring local women in traditional Indian clothing, along with a silent auction featuring items from India and donations from local businesses.

Nawab Indian Cuisine in Huntington will cater the buffet dinner.

Sampath said it’s like attending an Indian wedding, just without the wedding ceremony.

“They get to taste the Indian food, be in Indian culture and see international dancing,” she said.

Although previous years’ events have raised money for individual charities, proceeds from Bollywood Night 2014 will go to Manna Meal, West Virginia Health Right and Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center.

“I thought, so much work goes into this, why don’t we include a few other charities?” Bhirud said.

Sampath said they wanted to raise money for the events because so many people in her community have come to West Virginia and were welcomed into the community with open arms.

“They’ve taken us in as part of the family and because of that we have thrived. This is our way of saying ‘thank you,’” she said. “We thought we’d do what we can to pitch in.”

All donations are processed by the United Way and distributed evenly between the three charities. The event has already raised close to $120,000.

“It’s raising money in a fun way,” Bhirud said.

Bhirud said one of her colleagues from Charleston Area Medical Center couldn’t contain her excitement after an earlier Bollywood Night.

“She said ‘Dr. Bhirud I’ve never attended a fundraiser like this.’ She said ‘I feel like I went to a Broadway show.”

“Everybody goes away feeling good, that they’ve helped somebody and had fun in the process,” Sampath said.

Bollywood Night 2014 will be at the Charleston Civic Center on May 17. The event begins at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $100 apiece, but are 85 percent tax deductible. To purchase tickets or get more information about Bollywood Night 2014, visit

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or Follow him on Twitter at

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