By: Anita Ganesan, Saheli Volunteer
Yogi Rana is the owner and one of the DJ’s of Boston Sound and Light Company, an Indian based entertainment and audio-visual company and also one of the key donors for the organization Saheli, Saheli, Support and Friendship for South Asian Women and Families and Friendship for South Asian Women and Families.
“I have a motto wherein, you can only provide happiness to others if you are happy yourself. Five years ago I may not have had the financial capacity to help this organization, but I certainly donated my time in helping them with their annual charity functions,” says Rana about what made him start donating his time and money to Saheli.
Yogi, also known as DJ Yogz, was born in England, but has grown up in the Boston area since he was 4 years old. As his family were first generation immigrants in America, his ties to the Indian community offer a unique perspective of rags to middle-class story. Through various life struggles, Yogi has always been sensitive in wanting to give back to his Indian community. As an outlet, Yogi picked up music from his father of who used to play a variety of instruments in a Punjabi band while in England. The two would practice music in their garage in Somerville, playing and practicing Bollywood classics from the 60s, 70s, and the 80s.
Yogi then achieved a scholarship from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge to play the violin. Unfortunately, he never pursued the scholarship beyond attending a few classes, because to him the way he practiced with his father was drastically different than actual schooling. What he considered “confusion” back in the day landed him accidental success as “fusion” with Boston Sound and Light Company. Yogi pioneered the mixing of Bollywood and other genres of music in Boston! His team is known today as one of the leading wedding vendors in the scene (Indian and not). Yogi prides himself that through music he is able to bring communities together, preach diversity thru dancing, and be in the position to give back to the same community and music that shaped him.
To thank him for all that he has done and the inspiration he has provided to countless others during Saheli hosted events, I have had the privilege to interview Yogi Rana via email on why he supports Saheli, Support and Friendship for South Asian Women and Families.
Saheli Boston: When did you start donating your time and money to Saheli?
Yogi Rana: Saheli has been in my mind and heart for nearly a decade, although I finally started contributing to the cause about 5 years ago. I have a motto wherein, you can only provide happiness to others if you are happy yourself. Five years ago I may not had the financial capacity to help this organization, but I certainly donated my time in helping them with their annual charity functions. At first I waived my expense, then over the years educated my team to do the same. And now we are in the position of raising money and awareness to contribute directly to the cause.
SB: Of all the organizations, why do you feel close to Saheli?
YR: I rather not get too specific, but one of my sister-in-laws was impacted by some abuse several years ago. To be honest, I was never close to this sister-in-law, nor do I claim to know everything about the abuse, but coincidentally due to a health condition she had passed away. Out of respect, I attended her funeral and witnessed foreigners speaking at her wake. I was curious as to who these people were, and why they chose such a forum to speak. As they continued to speak and pray for my sister-in-law, I quickly realized they were the support system for my bhabhi, they were Saheli. I was astonished and proud to witness a charity actually being put to work, and locally. There are several charities in the Indian community that aim to improve situations far from me, but this once hit home, literally.
SB: What advice do you have for readers that want to get involved with Saheli, as a volunteer or donor?
YR: As with a majority of people of whom aren’t fully guaranteed that helping charities actually helps people, I’m one of those skeptics! I worry about corporate overhead and politics getting in the way of charities actually working. However, I have personally witnessed Saheli working, and that’s when I had no association to it at all. After getting to know the board, the volunteers, and even the donors, I’ve realized that this charity is like a family. The message of Saheli is simple, innocent and for the good. More than helping women, it empowers all of us that represent the Indian community to respect and love each other.