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Bhavanjali: Sam Ved's offering of love
- Anupma Sharma

September 26, 2018

The first lamp is the Guru and the lamp that is lit from it is the disciple. True to these words, Uma Dogra, the first and only Gandabandh shishya takes her Guru Pandit Durgalal's mission forward. Moving away from the boundaries of grief she brings the boundless joy of her Guru's persona to life. For his 70th birth anniversary celebrations, to honour his life and his works have been planned throughout the year.

The first in this series was held on 9th Sept 2018 at Marathi Sahitya Mandir, Navi Mumbai. Dedicated to the mission of promoting Indian classical arts, Kathak exponent Uma Dogra founded the Sam Ved Society in 1990. Sam Ved pays homage to the master's undying spirit through two main festivals - Pt. Durgalal Festival and the Raindrops Festival of Indian Classical Dance. Raindrops Festival is a premier event in Mumbai's cultural calendar for the past 28 years. It has till date opened its doors to over 250 artists, many of whom are leading exponents in their fields.

Sarita Kalele

Mandakini Trivedi

It was a beautiful assemblage of stalwarts, rasikas, admirers, students and well wishers. Bhavanjali began with offerings by Sarita Kalele to her dada guru in the form of a Shiva stuti. A senior disciple of Uma Dogra, she presented Dhamar Taal in 14 matras with poise and rhythm. Thaat, Amad of the Jaipur gharana had an unmatched grace. She ended on a playful and evocatively sung Hori, Na maro Shyam pichkari, with layers of emotions dipped in colour. Sarita left a collage of colours on stage imbibed from her guru.

Renjith Babu and Vijna Vasudevan
Laced with wondrous subtlety was the Kunti Rahasya presented by Mandakini Trivedi, a senior Mohiniattam exponent, choreographer, writer trained initially under Guru Kanak Rele, and later under masters Kalyanikutty Amma, Satyabhama and more recently Kalamandalm Leelama. The turmoil of Kunti as she introduces herself on stage, disembarking from a boat to meet Karna, is a mystery till date, to reveal the secret of his birth on the eve of the war. This is an excerpt from Rabindranath Tagore's 'Karna-Kunti Samvad' translated into Hindi by late Veena Alase and set to tune by Prof. C.V. Chandrashekhar. The childlike innocence of an adolescent girl, her gait was becoming. The caressing, blossoming of love scene set the stage abloom. Her accordant submission to the sun god, followed by her embarrassment, the joy of seeing her baby set the stage on fire. Mandakini exuded the first flush of youth, till she casts away the child into the river, repressing all motherly feelings and emotions with such ease. Grace marked the entire act while a sea of emotions unfolded. She summed up with a shloka Purnam adah, shanti patha from the Ishavasya Upanishad set to tune by N.N. Sivaprasad. The choreography gave a meditative experience through the slow unfolding of movement and the use of karanas from the Natya Shastra.

The last offering for the day was Bharatanatyam by Renjith Babu and Vijna Vasudevan, a pair of dedicated dancers and life partners. Coming from the Kalakshetra tradition of Bharatanatyam, Renjith, a Kalakshetra alumni and Vijna trained by The Dhananjayans, were a sonnet together. They presented Dashaavataara from Geeta Govindam, a 12th century composition by Jayadeva, with music and dance composition by Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar. The composition flowed in their movements and breathing life into each character was a soulful experience. The next was an abhinaya composition narrating Krishna's fun-filled interaction with Radha when he meets her for the first time. Krishna attempts to win her heart by offering his possessions like his peacock feather, anklets etc. The play was so real, we felt as though we were skipping along with the ensemble on stage. Taking her along on the magic of his musical flute had a divine note to it. Glimmering together, Radha and Krishna as if in unison with the energy of the universe was a treat. As if to submit prayers to a departed soul who inspires, guides his students and lives eternally, they performed the viruttam. A dedication to the inner light that is within us which each one of is searching for, which would guide us through the journey of life to the ultimate state of bliss. Together the artistes prayed for the Guru's happiness and peace through this offering of love - Bhavanjali.

Anupma Sharma is a Research Scientist in Biology and has been trained in Kathak dance by late Pandit Brijraj Mishra.