I bought tickets to a performance thinking my daughter would enjoy it (at the back of my mind of course was also the ‘culturally enriching’ quotient) and there she was, putting up quite a fight as it would eat into her play time.
Working out a deal that we would leave if she didn’t like it, we reached the venue just a wee bit late. Once we sunk into our chairs, my little one transformed into a committed spectator.
The acts that changed her mind were dance dramas by cultural groups ‘Sankhya Dance Creation’ and an Odissi dance recital by ‘Aratrika Institute of Performing Arts’. Inspired by creations of India’s poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore, the dance drama ‘Chitra’ narrated the story of love between Chitrangada, warrior princess of Manipur, and Arjun, one of the principal characters of the epic Mahabharata.
What brought the audience to their feet in applause however, was a solo performance by Vaibhav Arekar based on ‘Debotar Grash’ depicting the relationship between a young boy and his mother.
Exasperated by his insistence on going on a sea voyage, she threatens to throw her child into the sea. Eventually, she relents and during the voyage, a storm threatens to capsize the boat. Superstitious passengers tell the woman that misfortune has befallen them only because she promised to sacrifice her son to the sea god and has now gone back on her word. Her pleas that those words were spoken only in anger and were meaningless fall on deaf ears, and her son is mercilessly thrown into the sea. You will see only one picture of this act on my blog, simply because pictures would not do justice to the expressive performance and the emotional effect it had on the spectators – as a mother, I almost cried for the loss of that woman. I heard a few others sniffling and trying to inconspicuously wipe their tears before the lights came on in the auditorium.
In the end, I was thankful not just because we watched this beautiful act of visual poetry but also because we are fortunate to have such a rich cultural heritage. What has been your favourite cultural experience?