After a glittering and high voltage debut in Kolkata in 2019 and an equally successful return in 2022 — where 15 women were awarded for their path-breaking contributions to their professions and also impacting society positively — The Devi Awards was back again this year to felicitate 12 more such dynamic women.
The Devi Awards was started with the vision to recognise the contributions of women from all walks of life who have triumphed in their respective fields and uplifted fellow women and men through their respective journeys. After 23 chapters in Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar and Chennai — the Devi Awards (conceived in 2014), came to Kolkata for the first time on August 31, 2019, to celebrate women achievers from Kolkata and Eastern India, in general.
Neha Periwal, director, The New Indian Express welcomed the guests at this edition which was held at ITC Sonar, saying, “In this venerable land of Bengal, the primordial deity has always been Kali or the divine mother — even the trinity being subordinate to her. In India, we have believed Devi personifies all that is divine, as the universal mother. We, at The New Indian Express Group, uphold that strong independent women are the backbone of the nation. We act on our beliefs by organising the Devi awards. Our Devis are those women who have had the inner strength to overcome obstacles and achieve their end goals.”
This year, the event saw an engaging session with Rongili Biswas, singer and academician; and Jaya Seal Ghosh, dancer and actress; moderated by author and senior journalist, Kaveree Bamzai of The New Indian Express Group — on the influence and inspiration of art, culture and the performing arts in contemporary society. While Biswas mentioned the impact of arts in shaping politics and vice versa by mentioning her father — music composer, singer and activist Hemango Biswas; Ghosh’s commented on the power of art in unifying people.
Biswas said, “When you are talking about politics, no art can be divorced from it. My music has started from the idea of an archive inspired by my father who believed folk music should inform our protest songs and cultural figures should learn from it.” Ghosh added, “For being human, art is important. Art gives us unity. When I go to my guru, all our students are from different places but we are pursuing one art form. All this knowledge makes us complete as a person. It leads you on a spiritual journey.”
Actress and politician Kushboo Sundar who was the chief guest, also fielded questions with panache during a meaningful conversation with Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express. She said, “It’s important for women to stand by each other. Times have changed and I’m glad we are coming into a different age in society where men come together to see women succeed as well. We celebrate Devi awards and it shows we are together and focuses on how important it is to encourage women. A little pat and push can make a lot of difference.”
This year’s recipients included entrepreneur Saloni Jhunjhunwalla; fashion designer Rimi Nayak; educationist and fashion entrepreneur Shivika Goenka; architect and heritage professional Nilina Deb Lal; actress Paoli Dam; actress and director Churni Ganguly; singer Iman Chakraborty; actress and politician Satabdi Roy; co-founders of fashion label Karomi — Sarita Ganeriwala and Sarika Ginodia; conservationist Tiasa Adhya; and actress Jaya Ahsan.
Needless to say, the award ceremony was an eclectic showcase of powerhouse talent. Kolkata, at least, hasn’t seen so many accomplished women gather under one roof, in a while, and that too on a platform celebrating them. The recipients received their awards from Prabhu Chawla; Kushboo Sundar; Joita Sen of Senco Groups and Diamonds; Madhu Neotia, founder, The India Story; Neha Periwal; and Lakshmi Menon, CEO, The New Indian Express; and opened up about their success stories. Sen said, “Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to speak on our IPO success which was the lifelong dream of my father-in-law that the brand remains even beyond us.”
“I must thank The New Indian Express Group for giving me this lovely evening along with other inspiring achievers. It has been an honour and I am deeply humbled,” said Churni Ganguly while Paoli Dam averred, “I would like to Thank the New Indian Express for the surprise Devi Award this evening. It’s lovely to see so many women achievers from every field. Devi Awards is celebrating and felicitating those women who have worked so relentlessly to do something for them and the people around them.
“I am so grateful to receive this award. It’s always so special to do something for children to make them happy,” said Shivika Goenka, who just gifted the city a stunning global school called RP Goenka International School, earlier this year; while fashion designer Rimi Nayak also said, “A Devi to me is someone who fights against all odds and breaks the barriers to achieve their goals.”
Some of the noteworthy attendees at this edition of the Devi Awards were actor-director Kaushik Ganguly; actor Ujaan Ganguly; French Consul General Didier Talpain; actress Ushashi Ray; actress Swastika Dutta; actress Priyanka Mondal; actress Darshana Banik; choreographer and dancer Sudarshan Chakravorty; and director Shiboprasad Mukherjee, among others.
This year, the Adani Group was the presenting partner of the glitzy event and the associate partners included Senco Gold and Diamonds, National Jute Board, Visit Saudi, LNB Group, Life Insurance Corporation of India and KGA Electronics & Home Appliances; with Diageo India as the celebration partner; Selvel One as outdoor partner and Ahujasons as the gifting partner.