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Sri Krishna Vaibhava - A Feast For The Soul

Venkatesh Subramaniam, Lakshmi Venkatesh & Amrutha Ananth


The beautiful weather on the afternoon of May 11th was only rivaled by scintillating performances put together by the artists in the New England area. Sri Krishna Vaibhava, a classical music and dance extravaganza dedicated to Lord Krishna transported the audience to various Krishna Kshetras, allowing the audience to deeply immerse themselves in glory of the Lord. A fundraiser to support Mumbai-based Ashraya, an old-age home run by an organization called Gokul, the event was conceptualized by the members of KalaTarangini. The emcees for the evening, Aditya Venkatesh & Manasa Jayanthi, navigated the enthralled audience to the different abodes of Krishna, sharing some interesting tidbits along the way. Their interactive banter with the patrons, in between the items, kept them engaged and eager to experience what came next. Here’s what rasikas Venkatesh Subramaniam, Lakshmi Venkatesh and Boston-based dancer Amrutha Ananth have to say about the blissful evening.

MUSIC SEGMENT - Venkatesh Subramaniam

I consider myself very fortunate to have witnessed Sri Krishna Vaibhava, a musical evening covering significant compositions in praise of Lord Krishna by various composers across India. The spirit of ‘Bhakthi’ was high in the air and I thoroughly enjoyed the array of poetry that not only encapsulated lyrical beauty but also brought out each poet’s unique style of writing.

The music segment was in the hands of various music schools led by the eminent teachers in the area who had trained their students with proper ‘patantharam’ which was evident in all renditions. ‘Enna thavam seidhanai’ by SwaraRaaga School of Music led by Guru Smt. Valli Amaravadi was an apt selection to kick-start the extravagant evening highlighting Lord Krishna, also falling in sync with the ‘Mother’s Day’ weekend! The popular bhajan ‘Ek Mantra Japthe Raho’ in Darbari, performed by Abhyaas School of Music, was indeed a scintillating one, with Amritha Pai leading the entire team in an effortless manner.

Following this, the striking mother-daughter combination – Smt. Uma Sankar and Sreya Shankar; Smt. Priya Anandaraj and Sindhuja Anandharaj traversed us to Guruvayoor with Ambujam Krishna’s ‘Guruvayoor Appane Appan.’ Their exchange of swarams in the rare krithi ‘Rangayya ninnan yaarenendaro’ on raga Hamsanandhi truly stood out. They ended their segment on a high note with a popular Abhang, ‘Bolava Vitthala.’ Giridhari Venkatadri proved to be an excellent accompanying artist on the violin, providing apt responses to the vocalists’ kalpana swaras, while Hari Shanmugam on the mridangam matched up with his masterful interplay.

The young instrumental ensemble (comprising of Yash Ravish, Shashank Madhu, Prayuth Naduthota, Harsha Hampapura and Varun Chandramouli) provided a beautiful contrast to the evening, where they stitched significant krithis on Krishna and brought out a medley that concluded with the enchanting Dhanashri Thillana. Western instruments such as guitar and keyboard blended harmoniously with traditional the Indian instruments like the flute, mridangam and tabla, making it a unique and delectable music experience.

The music segment was rounded-off with a performance by the students of Anubhava School of Music of Guru Smt. Tara Anand, showcasing various compositions on Krishna. One such composition was ‘Hari Guna Gavatha’ rendered by Pratik Bharadwaj and Yash Ravish in Ragam Dipali, neatly essayed with Guru Tara herself accompanying her students on the Violin. Sri. Pravin Sitaram who accompanied the school on the mridangam, brought the Palghat Mani Iyer bani to the fore. ‘Maithrim Bhajatha’ composed by Kanchi Paramacharya brought this grand segment to a great finish.

DANCE SEGMENT -Lakshmi Venkatesh & Amrutha Ananth

Lights, Costumes, Choreography – what a captivating visual treat!

During the second half of the program, popular dance teachers of the New England area came up with elegant presentations with insightful interpretations for well-known compositions. The enthralling showcase took the audience on a journey to the famous Krishna Kshetras starting from Srivilliputhur in the South of India to Pandharpur in the North of India; Nathdhwara in the West of India to Puri in the East of India!

The journey commenced with the students of Smt. Sridevi Thirumalai, Natyamani School of Dance portraying Srivilliputhur Andal’s unconditional love and devotion to the Lord in the Andal Kavuthuvam and gradually shifting focus to the celebrated ‘Thiruppavai’ by Andal. Keeping the dynamics of group choreography intact, the dancers swayed across the stage gracefully. The coordinated entry and exit of the different groups of dancers seemed flawless. The school also brought out the essence of Mira Bhai’s compositions such as ‘Paga Gungroo’ and ‘Payoji Mene’ in the Abhinaya sequences.

We were escorted to Udupi by students of Jothi Raghavan, Nrityanjali School of Dance, who tapped their feet to the highly evocative ‘Baro Krishnayya’, in which her students highlighted the emotions of an ardent devotee Kanakadasa towards the Lord. The school also presented the well-received ‘Chethi Mandaram’ soulfully, a perfect choice to describe Krishna and emphasize some striking aspects - the Tulasi mala around His neck, the peacock feather decorating His hair, that churned out a beautiful image of Guruvayoor Keshavan in my mind.

An upbeat ‘Vrindavani Venu’ performed by students of Lasya School of Dance, Guru Smt. Sapna Krishnan brought out the raffish spirit of adventures in Krishna’s life. The school’s ‘Madhurashtakam’ was a gripping performance with Abhinaya portions well-interspersed with the Jathis. With fast-paced choreography in place, the bout of energy exhibited by the students on stage is praise-worthy.

Not forgetting the home of the celebrated Ratha Yatra in Puri, the dancers from Sharanya School of Odissi, performed with poised authority to the Jayadeva’s Aashtapadhi, which was beautifully interspersed with the elements of Tandav Chhau.

The evening concluded with a PurandaraDasa Mangalam wherein all the four schools came together to a shower of applause.

A naughty child, a true romantic, a trustworthy friend, the respectable Chief - the evening showcased Krishna in his various ‘avatars’, Sri Krishna Vaibhava was a brilliant extravaganza indeed.

Experience of a Rasika – Krishnan Vaidyanathan

Learned scholars have said that it is rare to get the feeling of Bhakti but there is something that is even rarer. And that is to experience the association of devotees. Sri Krishna Vaibhava gave the audience both these opportunities.

Every performance was like a flower in offering to Lord Krishna and the entire event was a Garland of love. Hope the people of the Boston area continue to experience such beautiful offerings done with pure love.

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