Padma Vibhushan and MP Dr Sonal Mansingh showcased how Prabhu Shri Ram and Sitaji lived their lives and handled extraordinary situations with a scintillating performance titled “Katha Siya-Ram Ki” on day one of the two-day Kala Yatra festival
Globally renowned ambassador of Indian art and culture, dancer and guru, Padma Vibhushan and Member of Parliament, Dr Sonal Mansingh presented Ramotsav, a two-day festival that began at the Kamani Auditorium April 29. This is the 45th year of the institute and the festival Kala Yatra organised by Shri Kamakhya Kala Peeth—The Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CICD), a cultural institution, which she had founded way back in 1977 with a lot of hard work and perseverance.
The colourful event, Ramotsav, was inaugurated with the lighting of a ceremonial lamp by RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat, who was guest of honour, and Shri Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Labour and Employment and Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Both were felicitated by Dr Sonal Mansingh.
The two-day KalaYatra festival opened with a scintillating performance titled “Katha Siya-Ram Ki”. Choreographed by the diva of dance, the performances showcased deft blend of dance, music and theatrics. The dance guru demonstrated to classical art lovers that she was not only the most accomplished classical dancer but also a master storyteller, especially when it came to narrating the story of Prabhu Shri Ram. She brought alive with her impeccable abhinaya, myriad emotive nuances, through her expressive eyes and erudite narration on how Prabhu Shri Ram and Sitaji lived their lives and handled extraordinary situations with calmness and wisdom. The audience who turned out in full strength were left spellbound by the divine aura created by Sonal Mansingh’s performance and the splendour of the grand ambience complimenting her stature as an unparalleled artist.
Pointing out that for two consecutive years, Coronavirus had created havoc in people’s lives, Sonal Mansingh said, “Those into performing arts were the worst sufferers during the pandemic. Even daily wage workers got packages from the Government. I am talking about freelance artists here. So I am very happy that at least now we have finally got an opportunity to continue with our lives; things are opening up. There is a ray of hope. Everyone should pray that there should not be any variant of this deadly virus. I pray to Kamakhya Ma to keep the virus at bay.”
After the performance, Sonal Mansingh made sure that all her disciples bowed before RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwatji, who came up on the stage to bless and encourage all the young artists, for mesmerising the audience with their deft footwork, coordination of expression and living up to the exalted standards of their guru.
Highly impressed with the performance of the legendary dancer and her dedicated team on the first day of Ramotsav, RSS Sarsanghchalak enthusiastically blessed the CICD repertory after watching the entire show that lasted nearly one hour 25 minutes.
Praising the presentation, Mohan Bhagwatji said, “We were taken to that bygone era by this performance by Didi and her team. Our arts have the strength to take us to ancient times. Our folk artists should now derive strength and Coronavirus-like obstacles should not come in their way and create havoc in their lives.”
Amidst thundering applause, Mohan Bhagwatji, said, “Tomorrow (April 30) is Didi’s birthday. On behalf of all of you, I convey my heartfelt gratitude to her and wish that her tapasya continues.”
As the Sarsanghchalak, who is moulding millions of young minds to be in sync with Bhartiya culture and tradition, Mohan Bhagwatji is seen as the torchbearer of Hindu sanskriti.
Interestingly, Sonal Mansinghji’s deep reverence for Kamakhya Devi could be gauged from the fact that a centre seat in front row at Kamani was dedicated to her and was adorned with a shawl as well as prasad was offered as a mark of respect for the deity. The multi-dimensional personality, who is an authority on Indian classical dance forms, distributed prasad to all her disciples after their riveting performance.
Throwing light on how she started off Centre for Indian Classical Dances, Sonal Mansingh said it was now known as Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth. “It was started on April 30, 1977. I was in full swing of performance then. However, many friends told me that singers teach and perform till the age of 90 but it becomes exceedingly difficult for dancers to continue till that ripe old age. This is how I was persuaded.”
Noting that it was easy for government organisations to carry out activities related to performing arts, Sonal Mansingh said, it is also easy for those who have families to support, “but someone like me who ran away from home at a time when many of you were not even born, and staying alone in Delhi, I had to start from scratch. Its Maa’s blessing that from our institute thousands of boys and girls have learnt about Sanskriti and they are now placed worldwide. Most have opened their institutions, some have made a career out of dancing.”
Shri Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Labour and Employment and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said, “Three-four years ago, I had a long conversation with Didi, she told me that she had been loyal to her dance. I went through her biography; her grandfather was Governor, his first fight was with Morarji. She learnt Odissi and other dance forms. Didi is a disciple of Kamakhya Devi. She is a big name at Rajya Sabha. She taught those learning politics that it was important to know one’s sanskriti.”
Summing up, Sonal Mansingh said, “I pray to Kamakhya Devi that all of you stay healthy, safe.”
On April 30th, the auditorium was teeming with dignitaries, rasikas and celebrities from town and outside Delhi too, not only to watch the grand finale of the Kala Yatra but also to wish Sonal Mansinghji on her birthday. RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Dattatreya Hosabale, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister for State for Tourism, Culture and Parliamentary Affairs, and Shri Ram Bahadur Rai, President IGNCA inaugurated the second day of Ramotsav.
The evening’s performance began with Dashaavatara, which is an awesome description of the evolutionary cycle from the Indic lore. It underlined the ten incarnations of God Vishnu from the primordial to modern times and how the aeonic cycle will end only to begin again. This was yet again a unique choreography by Guru Sonal Mansinghji which was presented by the repertory of Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth under her direction. The magnetic performance kept the audience spell-bound.
Dr Ratheesh Babu, an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer, was the next performer. His recital–Piba re Rama Rasam composed by Sadashiv Brahmendra depicted three different episodes from Adhyathma Ramayana i.e., Adi Kavi Valmiki, Sita Apaharan by demon king Ravana and Jatayu Moksham, lastly God is with you and within you, depicted by the episode where Lord Hanuman tore open his chest that shone with the images of Prabhu Ram and Sita Mata. Babu’s powerful performance and versatility struck an awesome chord between the artist and audience.
The KalaYatra festival came to an end with the spirited drumbeats from God’s Own Country presenting a Kathakali recital titled-Ram-Parashuram: An episode from Sita Swayamvaram, by the artists of International Centre for Kathakali, New Delhi. The festival concluded with a thunderous applause and standing ovation.
Lauding the brilliant theme and festival curated by Sonal Mansingh, RSS Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale said, “She has been a towering guru and flag bearer when it comes to nurturing culture in all its manifestations as well as education and dance as part of the entire spectrum in carrying forward India’s cultural legacy. We need veteran gurus like Sonal Mansingh.”
The evening had yet another surprise in store for all – the birthday celebration of Guru Sonal Mansingh by her disciples, well-wishers and rasikas, who crowded around her to be blessed. It was a touching moment of love and respect showered on a person found in centuries, who has sacrificed, contributed and propagated the Indian cultural traditions for more than half-a century for the world to absorb and nourish aesthetically.