On Monday, the city’s leading celebrities and corporate honchos – actor and activist Suhasini Maniratnam, singer Srinivas, carnatic vocalist Sudha Raghunathan, Oriental Cuisines chairman and Chennai Mission founder M Mahadevan and Savera Hotels executive director Nina Reddy – came together to announce the fourth edition of the ‘Battle of Buffet,’ a one-of-its-kind fundraising event held annually for NGOs as part of the ‘Joy of Giving Week’. A fitting gift to the ‘Father of the Nation,’ as it is always held in the week of Gandhi Jayanti from October 2-8.
The aim is to raise Rs 2 crore this year for 68 NGOs in and around namma Chennai. “Usually the NGOs spend ` 6-7 lakh in order to raise about Rs 9-10 lakh,” Mahadevan said. “But the ‘Battle of Buffet’ serves as a platform to NGOs to raise funds at zero cost.”
Battle of the Buffet
Needless to say, the event would not have been possible without the active support of the luxury hotels and leading restaurants in the city. It is their gesture of giving. So, come October 6, chefs of leading hotels such as GRT Grand, The Savera, Shyam Group, Taj Hotels, The Park, Le Meridian, Copper Chimney, Courtyard by Marriott, Radisson GRT, Oriental Cuisines and China Town, will put together their best food on the table and savouring them will be close to 2,500 Chennaiites, donating Rs 5,000 to the causes they care about.
“This is a unique opportunity for the NGOs to raise money through a completely sponsored event. It will be an evening of the finest cuisines by all participating five star hotels coming together under one roof at the same time at the Chennai Trade Centre in Nandambakkam,” Mahadevan said.
Exhorting industry to lend a helping hand, Mahadevan said the corporates could buy a table at `1 lakh, which would entitle them to 10 dinner coupons. “Fifty per cent of the amount would be allocated to the NGOs of the corporate’s choice, while the rest would be distributed to deserving NGOs identified by the organisers,” he added.
Sindhubhairavi star Suhasini Manirathnam said, “The ‘Battle of Buffet’ is a miracle,” she said. “It is very difficult to connect people who want to help and people who need help.”
Recalling her own experience, the actor said people also had a nagging doubt about whether they were being cheated. “Fund-raising is a thankless job. It is difficult to convince people to part with their money,” she said. “The Battle of Buffet provides a platform which ensures that your money is going to the right person for the right cause.”
Treat for the ears too
For singers like Sudha Raghunathan and Srinivas, blessed with a golden voice, what can be a better way of giving than to mesmerise the audience with their music. Last year, it was a novel experience for students of the corporation school in Thiruvanmiyur when Sudha Raghunathan performed live before them. “They said they had never been to a kutcheri, only watched it on TV,” she said. “I sang semi-classical Bharatiyar and Bharatidasan songs and they enjoyed it.”
Besides regaling the audience at the buffet, she will sing for corporation school students in MGR Nagar on October 6. She also hopes that she will be allowed to perform at the Puzhal Central prison.