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New England Shri Raghavendra Swami Brundavan Celebrates Shri Vadiraja Aaradhana

Malini Rao

New England Shri Raghavendra Swami Brundavan (NESRSB) and RKP Balaga proudly celebrated Shri Vadiraja Aaradhana on June 15, 2019 at Mary Rowlandson Elementary school in Lancaster MA. This Aaradhana celebration was a FREE event open to the public and was a unique cultural event focused on Guru Vadiraja’s compositions, life and teachings in the form of a ‘Gaayana Ghosti’ or group singing, a dance ballet by Vidushi Pooja Kumar Shyam and a music concert by the renowned Ganakalabhushana Vidwan Shri R.K. Padmanabha. The event was well attended and the audience was enriched by each segment of the program.

Vadiraja Thirtha is a 15th century Dvaita saint, poet and mystic who was the pontiff of the Sodhe Mutt and established the Paryaya system of worship at the famous and sacred Udupi Krishna temple. He also fanned the Haridasa movement in Karnataka by translating Acharya Madhwa’s treatises into Kannada and making it available to a wider segment of people.

Ganakalabhushana Vidwan Shri R.K. Padmanabha is a Carnatic music stalwart and a devotee of Vadiraja swami. He has not just impressed people with his emotional renditions and technical virtuosity but also as a multi-faceted artist, composer, organizer and social reformer. In this event too, RKP, as he is referred to affectionately, started off with Ghosti Gayana or group singing – a format he has promoted to be an agent of social reform and also a way to foster and nurture timeless compositions in the Carnatic style in the new generations and the public at large. Members of NESRS Brundavan and the Indian community in general joined him enthusiastically on stage and rendered several compositions of Shri Vadiraja amongst other songs.

This was followed by the felicitation of Vidushi Aparna Balaji and then a spectacular Bharatanatyam ballet called ‘Vaaji Vadhana’ by Vidushi Pooja Kumar Shyam and conceptualized by Anuradha Sridhar. Pooja, along with 5 of her students from Cleveland and Boston area presented many different breathtaking segments including pieces from Lakshmi Shobhane, and a celebration of the grace of Hayavadana on Vadiraja and also the association of Bhootanatha with Vadiraja. Pooja showed her own technical prowess as a dancer but also exhibited endless creativity in bringing alive each segment with her theatrical choreography without compromising tradition and purity of the dance form. Simple additions and accessories to the costumes and one major prop – a beautiful white horse representing Hayavadana provided the visual cues for the audience to immerse completely in the stories being rendered. It was amazing to learn that Pooja’s students (Mayuri Venkatesh, Chethana Devi, Sarayu Gogisetty, Ritu Somayaji and Sookthi Hunoor) had mostly learned this all new choreography over skype and yet, the coordination and details were impeccable. The performance was further embellished by the very melodious singing of Arthi Kumar Angl whose perfect diction in Kannada added a clear narrative. The recreation of Hayavadana, the mystical horse that would feed on the offerings by Vadiraja everyday, was stunning on stage and his divine dance performed by two students wearing the large horse prop was unique and well-coordinated. The classic and iconic pose of Hayavadana feeding off of the plate held on top of Vadiraja’s head was nothing less than a divine vision and will be a precious memory for devotees for a long time. Pooja teaches dance and creates these custom ballet performances for organizations, events and causes and may be reached at (440) 865-1996.

The event closed with a concert by RKP where he first demonstrated his signature style with a alapana in multiple ragas. Then he presented some of his own compositions celebrating Vadiraja and Rudrapatna, the town he hails from. He also rendered a Vadiraja composition celebrating Hari and Hara as two aspects of God.











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