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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


(Pic: Kalyani Giri receives the Distinguished Service Award - Through Journalism from Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami

Former Durban woman writes her name into fame in the US.

A former Durban woman who is now a distinguished journalist in the United States has been honoured for serving her community through the pen.

Kalyani Giri, 48, formerly of Reservoir Hills who is now settled in Houston, Texas received the award for Distinguished Service Award - Through Journalism from Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, the pioneering Hawaii-based publisher of Hinduism Today magazine. She was honoured for helping promote and uplift the community through her prolific writings on various subjects.

The award, instituted this year, is a prestigious recognition by the largest Indo American organisation, Hindus of Greater Houston, and will be given once every four years to one illustrious person in various fields of work or service. Giri is the first and sole recipient of the Distinguished Service Award 2009, chosen unanimously by the Hindus of Greater Houston Board of Directors.

Her parents Nadarajan and Kanthimathi Naidoo are respected lifelong cultural activists residing in Durban along with the rest of her extended family.

Giri was educated at the St Anthony's School, a Catholic school in Durban. Hailing from a Hindu family steeped in the Indian cultural arts, with music taught to her by her mother from a very young age, she was inspired to study Carnatic music of southern India, which was not offered in South Africa during the apartheid years because of the cultural embargo. To accomplish this, she left for India and enrolled at the Queen Mary's College in Chennai. While studying in India, she discovered a natural aptitude for writing and became a contributing editor with Pondicherry's Youth Age magazine.

When the opportunity to leave India for the United States came up, she began her career in the USA by writing for the Houston-based Asian Woman Magazine, which accorded women an effective forum for expression on women’s’ issues. Soon journalism became her primary vocation, and she has since written articles for local and international publications such as Hinduism Today, Indo American News, Voice of Asia, India Herald, and India Post - to name a few. Her interviews with people, their lives and achievements, and community events documented with a uniquely personal touch, make for fascinating reading.

In 2002, the Asia Houston Network, an affiliate of the Houston city Mayor’s office, conferred the Asian Women in Media Award to Giri in recognition of her contribution to the community through media.

Community activist and media liaison Vijay Pallod, who has collaborated with and guided Giri for over 15 years on thought-provoking issues facing the Hindu-American community, lauded the significant role played by her and spoke from his heart at the award ceremony.

Renowned musician David Courtney who along with his wife Chandrakantha, a Hindustani classical vocalist of note, has known Giri for the past 26 years, says: “Kalyani is like the invisible glue which has held together countless endeavours of the last couple of decades. Her involvement in numerous ventures both before the programs as well as in follow up reporting afterwards has often made the difference between a venture’s success and failure.”