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She uses music therapy for mentally disabled

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DEVOTION IS THE BUZZWORD: P. Umachandra Maheswari
DEVOTION IS THE BUZZWORD: P. Umachandra Maheswari

S.S. Kavitha

Forms a trust to promote classical music in an area where there is no government school

MADURAI: Solaippan (6) and Karthick (13) of Srivilliputtur and Gowrishankar of Chennai, mentally challenged children, are able to sing slokas and small keertans.

They continue to learn classical music systematically. It is made possible thanks to the efforts of P. Umachandra Maheswari, managing trustee, Andal Institute of Musical Arts and Charitable Trust.

She is instrumental in conducting music classes and therapy for them.

Ms. Umachandra Maheswari, who has an undergraduate degree in Performing Arts, South Indian Classical Vocal, and a postgraduate degree in Tamil Literature from Madurai Kamaraj University, formed the trust in 1997 to promote classical music in an area where there is no government music school and to help mentally disabled children.

"I decided to teach music to mentally retarded children after seeing the positive impact of music on my 50-year-old mentally retarded brother Seetharaman," she said, added that with motivation from R.K. Balasubramanian of Bureau of Parliamentary Work, Chennai, and well-wishers, she started the trust. Mr. Seetharaman, who also had fits, soon regained normality after hearing classical music.

He even went to the level of suggesting corrections to a student, she said. "Music is my passion. It breathes life into me. I teach music for healing too," she said.

Though Ms. Maheswari has lost one of her legs in polio attack, she continues to work for the needy, with support from philanthropists. She arranged marriages for poor girls with assistance from Rotary Club and hosted seminars, including a two-day state-level seminar on `Sampradaya Sangeetam' at Srivilliputtur in October.

She has also planned to conduct a national-level seminar on `Divinity and nationalism in Indian music' in February.

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