(Georgia, California, Florida, DC) A different kind of calendar aptly named “Saris to Suits Empowered Women 2014” featuring American women of South Asian heritage, who have faced great challenges, persevered and succeeded as physicians, journalists, activists, musicians, and as business owners, is generating overwhelming response from across the globe. The calendar was featured on BBC News and network television, as well as periodicals in India, the UK, Qatar, and Guyana.
Proceeds from ‘Saris to Suits’ calendar sales are going to many organizations that help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Atlanta Metro-based Raksha (meaning ‘Protection’ in many South Asian languages) is the primary beneficiary where three of the ‘role models’ in the calendar reside. The others are Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center in Sarasota, FL, and female causes in Chicago, California as well as abroad.
“Raksha hopes that partnering with ‘Sari to Suits’ we can wipe away the stigma of addressing domestic and sexual violence in the South Asian community in which violence at the hands of loved ones is often swept under the rug.” Said Raksha’s Executive Director Aparna Bhattacharyya. “This project will help start dialogues in our community so we can be proactive in ending these forms of violence and work towards stronger and healthier communities.”
The calendar is the brainchild of Patti Tripathi, a journalist and Founder of TriPath Media, a media training and strategy consulting firm based in Florida and DC. “We wanted to feature someone like the new Miss America Nina Davaluri, who is educated, charitable, talented, articulate and exudes charm, dignity and grace and made history by winning the coveted Miss America title as an Indian-American despite great odds stacked up against her,” said “Saris to Suits” Founder Patti Tripathi, one of the first South Asian American journalists to anchor national news on television. Tripathi could not speak English fluently at age 12 and had not seen a television set for the first decade of her life.
“I wanted to help save some lives after a scheduled speaking trip to Lavasa, India was canceled because of highly-publicized gang rapes,” saying she’s a ‘sister rising’ after sacrificing her TV career which was her American dream, then brushing off the cobwebs to reinvent herself as an activist and as a businesswoman after succumbing to pressures to have ‘arranged’ marriage, with devastating professional, personal, and health consequences. Domestic violence, she points out, comes in many forms and does not discriminate against geography or socio-economic background. “The U.S. ‘justice’ system needs cultural sensitivity training.”
“I wanted to feature role models, rather than models. Looks are inherited. Education, accomplishments are earned.” Said Tripathi. “Some are survivors of violence and real life examples of perseverance.” The ‘Saris to Suits’ trademark implies these savvy and worldly women who travel fluidly between continents, chasms, and communities. “The hope is the annual calendar will “INSPIRE and EMPOWER” the future generation to “RISE” for equality and against injustice.”
**Atlanta-area Empowered in the “Saris to Suits” calendar are: Dr. Aarti Pandya, a Gujarati surgeon/classically-trained vocalist. Lalita Balakrishnan, a Marathi/Malayali who’s a Hindustani classical musician and hip-hop producer, and Sonia Moghe, a Marathi broadcast news journalist, raised in Texas.
**California Role Models in the inaugural calendar include: Dr. Giatri Dave, a radiation oncologist/TV medical advisor of Gujarati heritage residing in Fresno, CA; Chanda Zaveri, CEO of Actiogen Corporation of Marwari heritage from Kolkata, India residing outside Los Angeles; and Shefali Razdan Duggal, a political activist of Kashmiri heritage residing in San Francisco.
**Tampa Bay-area “Saris to Suits Empowered Women” include: Dr. Chippy Nalluri, a cardiologist born in Kerala practicing in Sarasota; Puneet Kaur Sandhu, a journalist/creative writer of Punjabi-Sikh heritage born in the UK and living in Clearwater, FL, and Marsha Nicholas-Nigri, a teacher/restaurant owner of mostly South Asian mix born in Trinidad living in Sarasota, FL
**North East area Empowered include multi-cultural network news anchor/journalist Kiran Chetry who was born in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Month of May is dedicated to Mothers and daughters.
Saris to Suits Empowered Women 2014” can be purchased online: www.SarisToSuits.com or through Raksha.