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Meet the Local South Asian Artists from SEWA-AIFW 2021 Gala

An elderly Indian woman wearing a sari holding her hands together in a greeting. There is the SEWA logo and the text "Gala 2021."

On March 6, SEWA-AIFW had its annual gala. Though the event was virtual, we felt real community and togetherness. Thank you to all our attendees and supporters!

Under normal circumstances, we would have had an event in person. However, there is a silver lining to a virtual event: we got to showcase some more wonderful artists in our community!

If you attended the gala, you already know. If you couldn’t attend, that’s alright — we’re showcasing the artists here, too! But before we continue, we’d be remiss if we did not thank all our amazing sponsors and our generous patron, Dr. Dash Foundation!

Dr. Dash Foundation is a charitable organization that has been in operation for the past 30 years. Founder and chairman Dr. S.K. Dash focuses on education, health, and welfare through philanthropy and corporate social responsibility initiatives, and is a steadfast supporter of the South Asian community. Thank you!

And Thanks to our Sponsors: Rohini Ramanuj | Asian Women United of MN (AWUM) | India Association of MN | Chaudhary Law – Immigration Attorneys | Pratap Immadisety | Razia Akhtar & Clarissa Lobo of Coldwell Banker Realty | Hyderabad Indian Grill – Fridley | The Spice Bazaar | RGK Dance Studio | Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans (CAPM) | Dasharath Yata

Meet the Artists

We had the privilege of hearing from several artists, each with their own media specialties. There were singers, dancers, spoken word, and visual artists who used their talent to spread the joy of springtime.


First, we have a video made by Ritika Ganguly, Alia Jeraj, and Shinjan Sengupta. Ritika delivers powerful poetry and song over a story told through shadows and light by Alia. Join them on the journey below…

Apertures, a creative portrayal of domestic violence by Ritika Ganguly, Alia Jeraj, and Shinjan Sengupta

The Artists Behind Aperature

Artist Ritika Ganguly leaning towards the camera wearing an ornate Indian shirt with earrings and bracelets.

Ritika Ganguly, PhD., who narrated this piece, is from New Delhi, India, and now lives in Minneapolis. She is a vocalist, composer, and anthropologist. Her consulting practice and artistic practice both strive for an equality based on difference, rather than on the similarity of things, people, and knowledges.

Ritika is an award-winning composer and artist who has trained in several Bengali music genres as well as contemporary Indian musical theater. Her vocal and compositional work bring disparate musical styles, literatures, and disciplines together.

You can learn more about Ritika here.

Artist Alia Jeraj in front of a flowery background with dark curly hair and a nose ring.

Alia Jeraj, who created the visuals of Aperature, is an artist and educator in the Twin Cities. Her background is in Western classical vocal music, though she has shifted her interest to folk music and now studies with Ritika. She is particularly interested in songs from Gujarat, an Indian state on the Arabian Sea that borders Pakistan.

As a 2020 Naked Stages Fellow, Alia is creating and will perform a one-person show about culture, memory, and migration. Alia’s collaborations include Artemis, Nanilo, Mixed Precipitation, and Our Space is Spoken For.

You can learn more about Alia here.

I Am Spring

Next, we have a video by Roshan Ganu. Roshan created the visuals and perfomed the narration. The visuals are set to “I Am The Spring” by Morcheeba. Roshan’s work was inspired by SEWA testimonials. Join Roshan for spring in a familiar place…

The Artist Behind I Am Spring

Artist Roshan Ganu smiles for the camera in front of a blank background. She's wearing a black shirt with a large red earring and dark hair.

Roshan Ganu is a mixed media storyteller, originally from Goa, India, who now lives in Minneapolis. She has conceptualized and art directed stories for Minneapolis Institute of Art and Minnesota Opera. Roshan has taught comic making workshops at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Soo Visual Art Center, Socially Engaged Craft Collective and through her community art project titled ‘Aapli Library’, supported by Springboard For The Arts.

Her work has been recognized by Star Tribune, SOTA podcast, MPLSArt, and more. Rosha’s work has been exhibited at Artistry-Bloomington Center for the Arts, Soo Visual Arts Center, and ArtReach St.Croix-Stillwater.

She is currently preparing for her upcoming show at the Duluth Art Institute scheduled for this Fall. Click here to visit her online gallery and web site.


We had two musical performances by Swaravedika, which is Sanskrit for “a platform for music.” Swaravedika is a nonprofit founded and managed by a group of young and talented Indian-American singers. Their mission is to use music and fundraising as tools to supply underprivileged children in India and the US with basic necessities and educational supplies. It has been a privilege to have their support for this event and for other programs we have conducted this year.

The first song was “Hum Haar Nahin Maanenge,” by A.R. Rahman. It was performed by Akhila Mamandur, Madhav Danturthi, Priya Kanajam, and Shriya Nandagiri.

“Hum Haar Nahin Maanenge” by A.R. Rahman, performed by Swaravedika

The second song was “Yunhi Chala,” by Hariharan, Kailash Kher, Udit Narayan. It was performed by Akhila Mamandur, Madhav Danturthi, and Priya Kanajam.

“Yunhi Chala,” by Hariharan, Kailash Kher, Udit Narayan, performed by Swaravedika

Akhila Mamandur, Madhav Danturthi, Priya Kanajam, and Shriya Nandagiri are the four Swaravedika singers who performed for us. Akhila, Madhav, and Priya are also some of the nonprofit’s founding members. Shriya has won several local and national singing competitions in the US.

Swaravedika has chapters in ten US states as well as India and Singapore. Click here to learn more about Swaravedika and their work.

MN Fitoor

We were lucky to hear an award-winning performance by the University of Minnesota’s Acapella group Fitoor! Instead of instruments, the singers beatboxed and created beats verbally, making this a unique and fantastic performance!

Fitoor is the University of Minnesota’s first premier South Asian fusion acapella team. Click here to follow their performances and activities on their Facebook page.

R.K.G. Modern Indian Dance Academy

Our final artistic performance was a dance, titled “Malang,” performed by Renu G. Kumar. Renu is the award-winning founder, artistic director, choreographer, and principal dancer at Modern Indian Dance Academy.

Check out her wonderful performance!


Meet Renu

Originally from Muzaffarnager, Uttar Pradesh, India, Renu has trained extensively in Classical North Indian Kathak, Folk, and Bollywood dance. She is a lifelong dancer and artist, and has channeled that passion into R.G.K. Modern Indian Dance Academy since 2004.

Through R.G.K., Renu works to promote and create pieces in many styles of Indian dance. Since its founding in 2004, R.G.K. has served over 1,400 students and created more than 77 unique pieces that have been published both here in the US and internationally.

You can learn more about Renu and R.G.K. Modern Indian Dance Academy here.

Our Speakers

In addition to the fantastic artists who joined us, we were privileged to hear from some wonderful speakers. These speakers have been incredibly important supporters. We cannot overstate our gratitude for their reliable and invaluable support.

In order of appearance:

  • SEWA-AIFW Founder & Executive Director Raj Chaudhary
  • Minnesota Governor Tim Walz
  • 3rd Congressional District Representative Dean Phillips
  • Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Mary Manning
  • Consulate General of India Anil Kumar
  • Dr. Dash Foundation Founder & Chairman Dr. S.K. Dash

You can hear from all of our esteemed guest speakers, the artists, SEWA-AIFW board and staff members, and more below, as well as on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

To watch the full 2021 Gala, visit our Facebook and YouTube.

Check out our events for all upcoming SEWA-AIFW activities.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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