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Salangai Pooja And Year-end Program At Natyanjali

Nithila Krishnakumar

Salangai Pooja and year-end program at Natyanjali

Over the weekend, Natyanjali School of Dance held its annual year-end program at the Central Congregational Church in Chelmsford, MA on June 18, 2022. This event appreciates, congratulates, and encourages fellow dancers for their efforts. There aren’t that many opportunities to perform and embrace the beautiful art being learned; this is one time when dancers can take advantage of it. Thanks to our Guru Smt Jeyanthi Ghatraju, students often learn several pieces a year. Although we cannot perform them all, we choose one that represents something special to us: whether it’s something we’ve been practicing to perfection, a story dear to our heart, or just a fun piece that shows our passion. Weekly classes, daily practices, and lots of sweat are what add up to make these performances.

The 2022 Natyanjali Year-End Event, however, was special. This is because it hosted a Salanga Poojai for 3 of our students: Anita Kumar, Aruna Patibandla and Maha Krishnakumar. A Salanga Poojai is a milestone in a dancer’s career when they are presented for the first time with bells to wear around their ankles. It is a ceremony that comes with a lot of responsibility since the rhythm from your feet is emphasized and needs to match the music danced with. Dancers take the oath to use their knowledge of the art form in positive ways of enriching their lives and those around them, work earnestly to bring grace and honor to the Guru art form and never contribute voluntarily or involuntarily to actions that bring disgrace to the Guru or the art form. Simple things to keep in mind are to wear the bells right before a performance only and not to walk around with bells and shoes on!


Having to perform 6 dances is a time-consuming commitment. It is challenging enough for younger students but the 3 students who accomplished this were all mothers above the age of 40, with full-time jobs. The passion of these women was inspiring. They could be doing anything, but they choose to engage in this ethnic dance. For weeks, they met together for hours after work, perfecting, practicing, persevering. The 6 dances they performed began with a Pushpanjali, Khanda Nadai Alarippu, Abhogi Jathiswaram, Andal Kavuthuvam, Mayil Vahana (translates to peacock vehicle), and finished with Paras Thillana. The Natyanjali community was supportive and proud. Age really is just a number, being older shouldn’t change your passion and these women danced to prove this. Having the stamina to dance 6 dances well is not easy at all but these 3 ladies did it and with a smile. The beautiful program brochure was designed by our own students, Charvi and Megha Veeramachaneni, and had basic information on the items presented.


Many of the dances had two varieties for example the Pushpanjali, Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Kavuthuvam, and Thillana. Presenting two of several dances showed the variety and depth of the dance. What we performed was just the tip of the iceberg. The dances were all introduced with short and sweet context from Smt. Jeyanthi Ghatraju providing the audience with a little background to better understand the upcoming dance. Then Uncle, Kanth Ghatraju, would play the pre-recorded music and the magic would begin. The dancer(s) would then come onto stage, capturing the audience’s attention, creating silence with all focus on the dancer(s). Jeyanthi auntie would use her Nattuvangam to keep a steady rhythm and help the dancer stay oriented to the music. There are so many parts to just one performance, it’s incredible how the pieces come together. Soon enough, the piece ends and the dancer either leaves the stage or waits in a pose to let the audience finish their applause. As the relieved dancer walks back down the side hall the cutest, beginner dancers wait for you to high-five them. They smile eagerly waiting for you to acknowledge them, making the whole experience that much better. You can’t help but smile.

Everyone always makes progress and develops skills but since the pandemic when we couldn’t come together as a community, these events have grown to have more significance. I am so thankful to have been able to watch so many beautiful dancers, all unique to one another in person. You not only learn so much from watching others but they can be so motivating.

Performing in front of so many people is somewhat stressful but then you realize the audience is full of people who want to see you do well and they are there to support you. The Natyanjali community may be, relatively, small but we are a family.

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