I bought tickets to a dance performance thinking my daughter would enjoy it (at the back of my mind of course was also the ‘culturally enriching’ quotient) and there she was, putting up quite a fight as it would eat into her play time. Working out a deal that we would leave if she didn’t like it, we reached Kashinath Ghanekar Hall in Thane just a wee bit late.
Once we sunk into our chairs, my little one transformed into a committed spectator. The acts that changed her mind were dance dramas by cultural group ‘Sankhya Dance Creation’ and an Odissi dance recital by ‘Aratrika Institute of Performing Arts’.
Set to a Sanskrit hymn ‘Jatajuta Samyuktam’, part of it depicting goddess Durga killing the demon ‘Mahishasura’, the Odissi dance performance was a delight to watch -the legend of Durga was brought to life through graceful movements and mellifluous music.
Following it was a dance drama ‘Chitra’ narrating the story of love between Chitrangada warrior princess of Manipur and Arjun, one of the principal characters of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Choreographed by Vaibhav Arekar and Sanjukta Wagh, it was inspired by the poem of the same name by India’s poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
I’ve described the story in the captions accompanying the pictures below. However, you can click on the link here for the Wikipedia version.
What brought the audience to their feet in applause was a solo performance by Vaibhav Arekar based on ‘Debotar Grash’ depicting the relationship between a young boy and his mother. Exasperated by his insistence on undertaking a sea voyage, she tries to intimidate him by saying she’ll throw him into the sea. He doesn’t pay any heed and eventually she gives in.
During the voyage, a storm threatens to capsize the boat. Superstitious passengers tell the woman that misfortune has befallen them only because she promised to sacrifice her son to the sea god and has now gone back on her word. Her pleas that those words were spoken only in anger and were meaningless fall on deaf ears, and her son is mercilessly thrown into the sea.
You will see only this one picture of the act here simply because I was too emotional to take more. In any case, images would not do justice to the performance and the effect it had on the spectators – as a mother, I almost cried for the loss of that woman. I heard a few others sniffling and trying to inconspicuously wipe their tears before the lights came on in the auditorium.
In the end, I was thankful not just because we watched this beautiful act of visual poetry but also because we are fortunate to have such a rich cultural heritage. What has been your favorite cultural experience?