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Tamil Sangam Celebrates Pongal

Prem Natarajan

The New England Tamil Sangam (NETS) celebrated Pongal on February 19 by organizing a Pongal Vizhaa program featuring performances by members of the local Tamil community.  The program started with a song
performance (Thamizh Thai Vazhthu) by kids from the Shishubharati institute.  Following the Thai Vazhthu, the current NETS president Dr. Ilango Chinnaswamy delivered a welcome address and provided a brief
update on the activities of NETS during the past year.

Following the welcome address came a Bharatanatyam dance performance by Sneha Subramanian and Nivedha Ram.  The girls, decked in traditional Bharatanatyam costume, captivated the audience.  The next item was a
group rendition of Bharatiyar songs (Acham Illai, Jeya Vande Mataram, Bharata Samudhaya Vazhgave, Parukullay Nalla Nadu) by kids from the Shishubharati institute. It is impossible to listen to Bharatiyar's songs
without experiencing a strong feeling of nostalgia for what all of us have left behind. The experience was heightened by the enthusiastic singing by the
children.  Next, Anushya Pandian performed a Bharatanatyam dance item.  In case audience members were wondering about Anushya's hurried exit at the end  of her performance, here is the secret - she had to quickly change her costume for her next performance. 

Amrita Saigal and Amudha Pazhanisamy then delivered a riveting Nadar Mudi Mel (Snake Dance) performance that held the audience in its thrall.  The haunting melody of the song and the graceful movements of the
performers on stage was enjoyed by all.  This was followed by a Thiruvillayadal skit featuring Anushya and her brother Navaneeth.  The first half then came to an end with a soulful rendition of Jana Gana Mana
by Vidhya (Guitar), Shreya (Clarinet), and Divya (vocal).

After a 30 minute break, the second session started with a bang with Nivedha, Sneha, Swathi, Bhavana, Shreya, and Sadhana dancing to the Seena Thaana song from Vasool Raja.  After the song, Anirudh Rangaswamy, Mukund Kidambi, Neela Kaushik, Nirmal Devarajan,
Pavithra Devarajan, Rupa Ravi, Shilpa Narayanan, Sriram Kidambi, and Vikram Krishnamachari performed a full costume Tamizh drama (Mann Mamiyar). The children had clearly rehearsed well and delivered a
professional performance.  Sunder Kidambi provided keyboard accompaniment for the drama. Arun Saigal followed with a powerful mridangam performance that was appreciatively received by the audience.  Next, Anushya, Madhavi, Kavitha, and Meghana followed with a
dance item set to a song from a Tamizh movie. This was followed by a Bharatanatyam dance performance by Shivani Kumar.

The next item was a set of 3 dances performed by Sumati Ram-Mohan, Krithika Sridharan, Priyanka Sundaresan, and Charulekha Varadharajan of MIT Natya and choreographed by Gayathri Srinivasan.  The first
two dances were invocatory pieces and the third piece was a choreographed tribute to the victims of the recent Tsunami disaster in South Asia.  The tribute was a moving acknowledgement of nature's immense power and of humanity's determination to rebuild. The next item was a quiz contest conducted by Mr. Narayanan who had put together a multi-media
presentation engaged the audience in an exciting challenge.  After the quiz contest, certificates were handed out to the performers and a group of
Shishubharati kids sang Vazha Senthamizh to mark the end of the program.  Mr.Anukanthan delivered the final vote of thanks to all the performers and to the audience for making the program a grand success.

The enthusiasm that was demonstrated by the performers, especially the children, was emphatic reassurance of the fact that we continue to cherish
and nurture our traditions and culture. NETS extends a heartfelt thank you to all the performers who generously contributed their time and talent and
provided a great experience for the community.


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