The 3rd Naada Bindu Festival for the Arts: Sacred Encounters
- Usha Sundaresan
Pics courtesy: CNB

April 27, 2013

The 3rd Naada Bindu Festival for the Arts was presented by Chinmaya Naada Bindu from April 19 to 21 as a 3-day residential arts retreat at the Chinmaya Vibhooti Ashram in Kolwan near Pune. Aptly titled ‘Sacred Encounters,’ the holistic aspect of the arts came through clearly in this thoughtfully curated festival, which combined impressive performances by 9 world-renowned performing artistes and their accompanying groups along with arts workshops and spiritual discourses.

The inaugural event on April 19th set the tone with a heartwarming musical invocation by children from the neighboring villages receiving free music training under Chinmaya Naada Bindu’s social responsibility scheme.  The festival’s first evening performance began with masterful Carnatic music by the renowned sister duo, Ranjani and Gayatri of Chennai ably supported by H N Bhaskar (violin) and Delhi Sairam (mridangam).  Their voices complementing, merging, paralleling in a plethora of variations, they kept the audience spellbound.

Invocation by children

Ranjani and Gayatri

The second day began at 6.45am with the serene Hindustani vocal concert by Jayateerth Mevundi.  The finesse in rendition of raag Bhairav alone went to prove why he is referred to as Bhimsen Joshi in the making. The accompanying artistes Keval Kavale (harmonium) and Shantanu Shukla (tabla) proved their mettle. The birth of Sri Rama was then vibrantly celebrated with a discourse by Swami Tejomayananda, Global Head, Chinmaya Mission along with bhajans and a colorful tableau enacted on stage by volunteers.  Swami Tejomayananda compared life with music and how life can be a melody and not a malady!  ‘Bhava’ is an important element in music, so also is the right attitude to life.  When all the elements like ‘raga’, ‘laya’, ‘tala’, ‘sur’ are in place, then music is pleasant.  Similarly, if life too has all the elements in their place, it will be pleasant.  The ‘Sa’ (“Shadja”) as the foundation note in music is present in every ‘raga.’  So also, if devotion to the divine is made the base of our life, then life will always be a sweet melody.

‘Parama Tatvam,’ the thematic Bharatanatyam dance presentation by Rama Vaidyanathan stood out for its perfection of technique and choreographic brilliance.  Her ‘Ardhanarishvara Ashtakam’ by Adi Shankaracharya emphasized the male and female aspects of creation with alternating grace and vigor.  In her depiction of a verse from Bhagavatam, Krishna was shown as being viewed through the eyes of different characters such as kings, wrestlers, devotees, friends, citizens and elders and Kamsa himself.  It intelligently brought out the nine emotions (navarasa).  The concluding Marathi abhang of Janaabai “Utha Panduranga” was a joyous treat.  Rama Vaidyanathan’s accompanists K Venkateshwaran (vocal), Karaikudi Sivakumar (nattuvangam), Viju Shivanand (violin) and Arun Kumar (mridangam) excelled in bringing out every nuance of the dance through their music.

Rama Vaidyanathan

Lalgudi Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi

Rakesh Chaurasia and Rupak Kulkarni

Seraikella Chhau

Lalgudi Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi captured the hearts of the audience with their divinely inspired Carnatic violin performance on 21st April morning.  Their Ragam Tanam Pallavi was the highlight of their performance. Rakesh Chaurasia and Rupak Kulkarni offered a flute duet with Pandit Kalinath Misra on the tabla.  Their mischievous repartee among themselves and with the audience truly resonated with the audience.  They rendered raag Ahir Bhairav with alaap, jod, jhala with a skillful instrumental question and answer with Pandit Kalinath Mishra, ending with soulful medley of bhajans and dhuns in Pahadi and other ragas. In the words of Swami Tejomayananda - a fluteful and sportful, a fruitful and soulful offering!

The final performance of the festival was the Seraikella Chhau by 12 drummers and dancers from Jharkand.  Their faces covered fully by masks and clad in splendid costumes the dancers depicted images from nature such as Night & Moon, Eagle & Serpent, Flower & Spring etc. The performance of this all male group led by scholar/performer Shashadhar Acharya had a touch of fantasy, mystery, and enigmatic quality. 

Two lecture demonstration sessions were well attended and greatly enjoyed by the audience.   The Lalgudi duo spoke superbly on the nuances of the techniques in Carnatic violin.  To demonstrate the unique Lalgudi style, which is close to the Gayaki style, they played two pieces – one, a composition by Mahakavi Bharatiyar and a Tillana composed by their guru and father Lalgudi G Jayaraman.

Ramaa Bharadvaj & Rama Vaidyanathan

Audience at the lec-dem

The workshop on Bharatanatyam by Rama Vaidyanathan was moderated skillfully (and with humor) by Ramaa Bharadvaj – director of dance for Chinmaya Naada Bindu.  Together they touched on many subjects including historical connections of Bharatanatyam, its contemporary influences, choreographic inspirations, spiritual significance, and even on the role of anklet bells in Bharatanatyam. In the words of a young student from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology, “Until this presentation we were not convinced about Bharatanatyam’s relevance to us.  The passion and conviction of these two artistes have convinced us now.”