The Annual Red Saree Event Celebrates Women’s Empowerment & Supports Survivors

A wave of empowerment and support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence rippled through Jersey City recently as the 6th Annual Red Saree Event, hosted by Bolo Behen (Speak Sister), took center stage. This initiative of Hudson Speaks Against Sexual Violence, offering vital services to South Asian women in Hudson County, ignited a powerful dialogue through insightful speeches, vibrant cultural performances, and moments of recognition.

The event unfolded with Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar, Bolo Behen’s Senior Program Coordinator, extending a warm welcome, while Natalie Akel, Hudson Speaks’ Outreach Coordinator, illuminated the organization’s comprehensive services. Aishwarya Sharma, a youth leader and Data Specialist, and Registered Nurse Ramana Bhatta skillfully steered the program as moderators.

Distinguished voices graced the stage, each offering unique perspectives. Chief guest and esteemed Nepali film actress, Bashundhara Bhusal, set the tone with her presence. Keynote Speaker, New Jersey State Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight, championed women’s rights, while City Councilwoman for Ward-B Mira Prinz-Arey and Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Captain Javier Toro emphasized collaborative efforts for survivor support. Further enriching the dialogue were specialists Karen Escalante from the Department of Children and Families, Dr. Denise Rodrigues from The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Tami W Henry from the City of Jersey City Women’s Advisory Board, Stacey Lea Flanagan from City of Jersey City Health & Human Services, Denise Fernandes from Fernandes Initiatives, Santeresa from Inspired by You, Pradeep Pariyar Thapa from Nepali Diaspora Alliance, and Kishor Panthi from Khasokhas.

Beyond words, the event resonated with cultural vibrancy. A captivating welcome dance choreographed by renowned Nepali filmmaker Vijay Man Nakarmi, founder of Basant Dance Center, enthralled the audience. Renowned artists Hridayashi Dangol, Katyayeni Shah, Kohinoor Shrestha, Niva Shrestha, Sanjina Ranjit, Divya Paudel, Durga Khatri, Yasoda Guni, Baishali Shrestha, and Krishna Shrestha brought their graceful movements to life. The evening was further adorned by the captivating performances of senior Nepali actress Basundhara Bhusal, Mahadev Tripathi, Kabina Singh, Basanti Rai, Ranjita Gurung, and Shriya Chapagain, while the soulful voices of Bima Kumari Dura, Nisha Sunar, and Zara Reet Prasain filled the air with melodies.

Adding a touch of heartfelt recognition, Jagdishor Panday, a respected Nepali journalist, received a city citation from Council President Joyce Watermann, while Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar was honored by Inspired by You for her unwavering dedication.

Throughout the evening, the aroma of traditional Nepali and South Asian cuisine filled the air, fostering a sense of community and cultural exchange.

The 6th Annual Red Saree Event transcended an evening of celebration; it became a powerful testament to the unwavering spirit of women, the vital role of cultural sensitivity in support services, and the collective strength needed to create a safer and more empowered future for all. As the red sarees, symbolizing courage and determination, flowed through the venue, a beacon of hope shone brightly, leaving a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of all present.