Ramayana Reflection Series V

Posted on August 4, 2011 by

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May 21, 2011 marked the Chhandam School of Kathak’s cornerstone school production – Ramayana.  The show featured over 350 students, live musicians from India, and appearances by the Chitresh Das Dance Company.  Students, parents, and participants took the time to share their experiences on the performance and being a part of the spectacular production.  Kathaka will be featuring these excerpts in a five part series.

Rajashree Sarukkai, Parent & Sloka Chanter

It is a mixed bag of feelings! A surge of energy at the same time a sense of emptiness . I personally have this temporary feeling of peace…and sadness.

I consider us very blessed to be part of Guruji’s vision and creative artistry. Also, for the first time we (chanters) got to see the raw as well as the finished product…..share philosophical discussions and laugh with him until tears rolled down our cheeks.

Each and every one of us coming from different walks of life, when we come together as a community there is this unspoken bond that surfaces leading to a great deal of respect for one another. This is the bond created on the grounds of utmost selflessness, dedication and passion. It takes a village full of beautiful minds to understand their guru..not just to imbibe the skill but to keep it alive!

Thanks to you and the entire CDDC for inspiring our children.

Hope you rest well before you go into full throttle once again.

Alok Shivpuri, Parent

How will a 5-year-old manage without her parents for almost 12 hours?

This was the first thought that occurred to me when I learned about the details of participation in Chhandam’s Ramayana show. Not once I was concerned about her being able to perform live on stage in front of hundreds of people, I was more worried about how she’ll cope up without afternoon nap, new environment, new faces and maybe some chaos associated with the show preparation.

Rewinding few months back – My daughter was interested in learning some Indian dance. I had heard about Chhandam School of Kathak, and as soon as she attained her minimum age requirement, I had planned for her to be enrolled. In January, I went to the San Jose Chhandam branch on a Sunday morning. Luckily, the session had just started, and the teachers there invited my daughter to participate if she wanted. After some initial shyness, she did participate with other kids and learned about Kathak, Puja position and Tatkar. I too was fascinated, and the striking thing for me was that parents were allowed to sit there and watch the kids performance and progress. I enrolled her and started her journey of learning Kathak.

The next few months were very interesting and I came to know about a lot other things and chances to participate as a student as well as a parent. My daughter was learning Kathak and I was learning more about Chhandam, Ramayana show, summer camps, Guruji, listening to teachers, meeting other parents at a Chai get together etc. My daughter’s interest also grew, and it was a lot of fun for her as well. She even practiced her steps while brushing her teeth. Seeing her interest, I enrolled her to participate in the Ramayana show.

As a Ramayana participant, you are required to practice, and rehearse, sometimes across the bay and late on a working day. One week before the show, a full dress rehearsal takes place and your kid will be alone with a volunteer for around 4 hours. And on the day of the show, your kid will have to be at the theater for around 12 hours.

Given the duration a participant has to be left alone, I was a little concerned. But the whole staff and more importantly, the moms who volunteered for each group did such an immensely great job that I was simply blown away. Everything was very well taken care off – security for the kids, making sure that the drop-off and pick up is documented and followed, the kids are engaged, relaxed and well fed, makeup for the show, getting kids ready to be on and off the stage, handing the kids back to the parents on rehearsals as well as show days, and above all, making sure that the kids remember this as a great experience, learn something, contribute as well as have a lot of fun.

For me personally, the biggest moment naturally was to see my 5-year-old on a stage in front of a big audience. But what my kid also learned was something bigger than this – she learned the concept of performing as a team. Success can be achieved together and small mistakes can be overcome if everyone comes together as a team and perform. I also felt that this provided a boost in her as well as my confidence to trust her capabilities more.

Today when I asked her what she has to say about her Ramayana experience, her response was – “I loved it Daddy, as it was a lot of fun!” I didn’t feel the need to ask anything else.

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