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Life without Basic Amenities: A Review of Arpan


Clean, readily available water is one of the basic essential for the existence of life. Water purifies and cleanses all. But, what if the water itself is impure and contaminated to begin with? Here in the U.S., we all take our luxury of running water and superior infrastructure for granted. However, there are parts of the world that do not have even the basic amenity of clean water. This is the message that Arpan: An Offering tried to convey through the Nritta, Natya, and Nrittya components of Bharatanatyam. The students of Nritya Sankalpa should be commended for their self-less act of kindness. Being American-born Indians, they had many excuses that they could have used: ‘we’re just young people we can’t change the world’ or ‘we live in the U.S., we can’t do anything for kids in India’. Yet, they didn’t turn away from their responsibilities to their less fortunate peers. Instead, they took the initiative, under the leadership of Kanya Manoj, and utilized their talents and skills to improve the quality of life of school children in the village of Vengal, India. Many times we as humans only think about what other people can do for us. But these girls, ranging in age from 6 to 17, thought of others and did something productive. 

The program was held on April 8th at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, Georgia. A great deal of hard work was put into organizing this program. The senior students of Nritya Sankalpa choreographed a piece, and they also taught the younger students some of the pieces in the absence of their guru, Savitha Vishwanathan. Although I am an American-born Indian, and I do not know much about the art form, the vibrant colors and graceful movements of the performers had took me to a whole new world of song and dance where everyone speaks the same language of music. An accompaniment of the jazz song “Love me or Leave me” by Billie Holiday to traditional Bharatanatyam movements truly exemplified how art is universal and understood by all. I personally enjoyed the harmonious flow of Western music and Eastern dance. It visualized the ideal balance of both Indian and American culture that every second generation Indian strives to achieve in daily-life. Fifteen-year-old Kanya Manoj showcased the Abhinaya aspect of Bharatanatyam to the brilliantly choreographed movements of her guru, Savitha. To add to the elegance and magnificence, special guest artist Paulomi Pandit came to partake in the program. She choreographed and performed Vaishnava Janato, a bhajan, one of Mahatma Gandhiji’s favorite. An apt piece for the program’s cause, it describes the devotee who knows the pain of others and helps them. Although bhajans do not usually accompany Bharatanatyam, Paulomi’s flowing movements and the music’s peacefulness make it a beautiful and memorable piece. The program had an immense offering of a variety of dance, from traditional to folk, for all tastes to enjoy.

The grand finale to the program fully captured the underlying message of the program. The piece, including all of the participants of the show, was in truth an exquisitely grand finale. The dance began with a mother narrating a story to her child about a poor rural school far, far away. The story continues as the better-off children from halfway across the world help their less-fortunate counterparts. Towards the climax the more fortunate children pour precious, pure water into the palms of their anxiously awaiting friends. Watching this scene, I literally had chills going down my back. The eternal message of the more fortunate helping the less fortunate surpasses all boundaries of caste and religion. It is the message of humanity. This philosophy is what keeps civilization together; the loss of which throws civilization into a downward spiral of chaos and violence. In this day and age of violence and terrorism it is quite reassuring to know that there is still hope for humanity. This just goes to show that even the smallest good deeds go a long way in making the world a better place for life to thrive for ages to come. 
Arpan: An offering of hope for Vengal, & a fundamental message for the world.

(Raju Kaladi is a sophomore at Georgia State University, studying Urban Policy Studies. He is an American-born Indian but says he is  well aware of his rich heritage. His family is from the Southwestern, coastal state of Kerala, India. He speaks his native language of Malayalam and enjoys art of any form whether it is music, dance or fine arts.)

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