Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Tiger Ball Salutes India, the Bayou City’s Diversity and One Incredible Local Family

The Asia Society's Showcase Night Does Not Disappoint

BY // 06.15.21

The visuals were striking: arches of fuschia bougainvillea, an overhead panoply of vibrant saris, profusions of fresh flowers and the luminescent costuming of guests. But even more compelling at Asia Society Texas Center’s Tiger Ball was the message of global unity delivered so eloquently by Moez Mangalji who with his wife, Sultana, were the evening’s honorees.

With “Incredible India” as the theme, the Mangaljis, of Indian origin, clearly represented Asia Society‘s mission of promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships between Asia and the West.

Theirs is the story of successful immigrants born in Uganda of Ismaili Muslim faith, educated in England, expelled with other Asians from Uganda in the early ’70s, and having lived in England, Canada, Japan, India and other countries before arriving in Houston four decades ago. Today, Moez is a principal in the family-owned Westmont Hospitality Group, the largest privately-owned hotel group in the world .

“We have learned some of the best lessons in life from our friends from different cultures,” he says. “In fact, I believe we are all global citizens. We all live in an increasingly interconnected world and all of us embody the values of pluralism and interconnectedness. ”

The interconnectedness and splendid diversity of Houston was evident in the glittering national dress worn by the 520 guests who gathered in the “gala pavilion,” a massive tent erected on the Asia Society parking lot and decorated to the aforementioned hilt by The Events Company. In a salute to the honored country, many donned classic Indian attire. For those who might have chosen other national dress or opted for the requisite black-tie, Asia Society was ready with traditional silk scarves for the gents and colorful bangle bracelets for the ladies.

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Gracie & Bob Cavnar, Kase & Eileen Lawal, honorees Sultana & Moez Mangalgi, Bonna Kol at Asia Society Texas Center’s Tier Ball (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

The success of this evening could be measured not only in the exceptional congeniality of guests (for many, it was the first post-pandemic outing) but also by the $1.3 million that was raised for Asia Society. Helming the colorful evening were gala chairs Gracie and Bob Cavnar, Claudia and Roberto Contreras, and Eileen and Kase Lawal.  Among honorary chairs attending were Whitney and Jim Crane, Asha and Farid Virani and Nidhika and Pershant Mehta.

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Guests also had the opportunity to provide support for the COVID-19 crisis in India through the Aga Khan Development Network’s pandemic relief efforts. The Mangaljis are deeply involved with the Aga Khan Foundation in which both have held leadership positions both internationally and regionally.

It was a lively evening that included a Bollywood-inspired dance presentation by Los Angeles-based Karmagraphy, a lavish Indian-themed dinner from City Kitchen and post-dinner dancing to the Bollywood spins of DJ Yogi of Karma DJs.

PC Seen: Asia Society president Bonna Kol, Asia Society board chair Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron, founding chair Roger Wallace and Mary Wallace, Nancy Allen, Sushila and Durga Agrawal, Laurie and Milton Boniuk, Divya and Chris Brown, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Anne and Albert Chao, Rose Chen and David Webster, Monjula and Ravi Chidambaram, Sneha and Nick Merchant, Lily and Charles Foster, Kathy and Glen Gondo, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Lynn Wyatt, Kathy and Marty Goossen, and Pakistani Consul General Abrar H. Hashmi and Sami Hashmi.

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