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Bengaluru chapter had got a week’s dates from Dr. Anwesa Mahanta for a circuit of Sattriya dance.

We booked their tickets, but one of her accompanying artists had to drop out, leading to ticket changes. Then some of the institutions started cancelling confirmed programmes as Janmashtami celebrations had been shifted from the September 2 (Sunday) to September 3 (Monday). Thankfully two other schools stepped in to confirm programs on the third. Most of our volunteers were busy with their work and couldn’t contribute to the fixing of venues. With all this done and four days to go for the circuit to commence, Dr Mahanta called in to say she had contracted chicken pox and was feeling very bad that she would have to cancel the programme and that there would be so much monetary loss, etc. I was already fed up with so many institutions refusing to take the programme, cancelling out and so many empty slots, that I was almost tempted to say, “Let's cancel it”. The thought of cancelling seemed like a relief actually. But Dr. Seth’s subtle training has ingrained us with a: “Never say die, find alternatives”attitude. So I asked Dr Mahanta if she didn’t mind, we could request another Sattriya artist, maybe her Guru, Sh. Ghanakanta Bora to step in to go through with the circuits. But he was not free. Dr Anwesa was then gracious and magnanimous enough to suggest the names of two other dancers, Anita Sarma and Meernanda Barthakur, her contemporaries and competitors. As she said, “This is not about her or me, it’s about promoting Sattriya dance”. She herself reached out to Meernanda withthe request. Our Vice-Chairperson Ashok Jain also pitched in and requested Dr. Meernanda to agree for the programmes at such short notice. Her tickets were booked and the circuit started. Meernanda has a very nice way of engaging students and is also an excellent performer. She explained how Sattriya dance is different from the other classical dances, in the way they treat Mother Earth very gently, the hasta movements, and the way male and female characters are portrayed differently. She did an amazing nritta, a Ganesh Vandana, the story of Sita Swayamvar showing different gaits of kings and of course that of an evolved, effortless Lord Ram, and a moving piece between Maa Yashoda and little baby Krishna. Her simplicity and humility in dealing with teachers and volunteers was touching. I felt satisfied that all our efforts were worth it as the circuit progressed successfully. When a journalist from The Hindu newspaper noticed the impact of her dance on children at Greenwood High International School, Varthur, Bengaluru, he wrote this in the review:

“What caught the attention of hundreds of restless school children was the episode between an inconsolable little Krishna and his affectionate mother Yashoda. Even as Krishna cried relentlessly, Meernanda depicted in ever so many ways the loving Yashoda trying to comfort her child. The eyes of most in the audience was moist...” All’s well that ends well.

SPIC MACAY volunteer's work is to bring the student and the artist together and then allow the magic of the art form to inspire children.