How art can awaken

Bharatanatyam dancer Pavithra Srinivasan on her Chicago performance to mark Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech

Published - October 25, 2018 04:27 pm IST

NEW DELHI, 11/08/2018: For The Metro Plus:  Pavithra Srinivasan at the Parampara 2018 music festival at the Kamani in New Delhi. Photo: V_V_Krishnan

NEW DELHI, 11/08/2018: For The Metro Plus: Pavithra Srinivasan at the Parampara 2018 music festival at the Kamani in New Delhi. Photo: V_V_Krishnan

“The two biggest takeaways from my visit to Chicago — the essence of Hinduism is inclusivity, a reason why it is referred to as Sanathana Dharma and understanding the values of one’s dharma can make the world a better place,” says Bharatanatyam dancer Pavithra Srinivasan, who opened the cultural evening at the World Hindu Congress held from September 7 to 9.

The event marked the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s famous Chicago speech at the Parliament of World’s Religions.

“As an artiste,” adds Pavithra, “it felt nice to listen to the views of speakers at the various forums such as economic, social and women at the three-day event.” She tried to reflect the broader definition of religion in the pieces that she performed.

“Art helps you develop a wider perspective and look at the world beyond geographical, linguistic and religious divides. The Chicago experience further strengthened my belief in the idea of oneness. The stories that were narrated at the women’s forum, especially struck a chord, as they were about struggle, hardship and success. Amidst the exchange of ideas, I realised the significance of art in fostering cultural ties. Art, particularly Indian art has the power to rise above differences.”

Much thought went into her line up for the event. “I wanted my repertoire to match the spirit of the occasion,” says Pavithra, who began by dancing to a chant from the Rig Veda, ‘sam gachathvam sam vadathvam’. It was the theme of the first WHC held last year in New Delhi. The chant means ‘Unison in our voices, Alignment of our minds and harmony in our march’. The composition also touched upon the theme of this congress ‘Sumanthrithe Suvikranthe’ (thinking collectively, acting valiantly). This was followed by the Mangalam chant composed by the late Pt. Ravi Shankar, which celebrates every aspect of the Universe — from its constituent elements to its constellations, permeating all life forms.

“The performance would have been incomplete without reflecting upon Swami Vivekananda’s inspiring message. I chose a Bengali poem for the same. After an Ashtapadi and tillana, I concluded with my spiritual guru Swami Dayanand Saraswathi’s ‘Bharata Desha Hitaya’ that describes the glory of India, Hindu dharma, seva and samskara; urging one to be committed to the service of humanity,” sums up Pavithra, who feels such opportunities are a way to understand and appreciate your dharohar (heritage).

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