On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, Lara Land, yoga instructor and owner of Land Yoga, brought India to Harlem in a Bollywood-style fundraiser at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster. Despite the last bitter chills of winter, the event brought out over 200 guests, many donning traditional Indian attire. Pops of silken color splashed through the crowd, saris were flowing (along with the cocktails, of course) and bare midriffs abounded. The tone of the evening was festive, however, people came together for Land’s Taste of India in support of a very serious cause.
Odanadi is a twenty year old organization that works closely with communities and individuals across India to prevent, rescue and provide safe haven for victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, slavery and domestic abuse. Taste of India was part of a worldwide movement – Yoga Stops Traffick - which involves over 100 yoga studios in more than 26 countries, coordinating in March of every year to raise funds for Odanadi and its causes.
“India is the epicenter of human trafficking, with more than 100 million victims, including 1.2 million child prostitutes,” says Land, who visits the country annually to study and volunteer. “It tops the list of countries when it comes to transit, destination and source of human trafficking victims. According to the United Nations, the most dangerous place in the world to a girl or woman is India, and 200,000 Indian children a year are sold into slavery, many by their parents for as little as $17.” Statistics like these, and her involvement over eight visits to India, have compelled Land to action for Odanadi, whose name means “soul-mate” and whose work has brought more than 140 traffickers to justice.
The evening was hosted by Daytime Emmy Award-winning producer and interviewer Steph Watts. Highlights included Bollywood dance mixes by DJ to the stars David Chang, Indian-inspired cuisine, Henna artists, a silent auction, and a special performance by Beauty and a Beat Dance Company (pictured above; photo, Will Haraldson).
Lara and the Land Yoga team are still smiling over the fundraiser’s success. She said there were just too many people to thank and added, “I was seriously overwhelmed by the way the Harlem community came together over this. Everyone was there, and joyously there. I felt so supported.”
For Land’s 10th visit to India, 2015, she wants to do something special: She is working on a tour for people who want to visit, engage in service, spiritual practice, or just see the country. Visit landyoga.com to stay-tuned!