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Nayani Enchants on Stage at Fundraiser for AIM For Seva

The Raadha Kalpa group performing the dance drama ‘Nayani’ as part of a fundraising initiative for AIM for Seva at the Stafford Centre on September 22. Photos: Pavan Kumar

By Chittoor Ramachandran

STAFFORD: The Fourth annual fundraiser for All India Movement for Seva was held on Saturday, September 22 at the Stafford Centre on Cash Road.  For the Indian community, AIM For Seva, the ambitious world renowned organization instituted by Poojya Swamiji Dayananda Saraswathi is more familiar than the IRS thanks to the dedicated and persistent efforts by the volunteers who were successful in attracting a large crowd of 800 to the event.

The event began with a melodious invocation keerthanam by Krithi Bhat which set the tune for the rest of the evening. Guests watched a brief video message from Swamiji that showed the noble purpose for which AIM For Seva funds are used.  This was further elaborated on by Dr. Lata Ramachand and Dr. Jayakumar Ammangudi.

Ashwin, a young man who had visited one of the villages in India and witnessed the grave situation, enlightened the audience by describing the needs of the needy.  His words were  powerful enough to make people open their wallets to support the chhatralaya project that has impacted over 10 million people.

AIM for Seva concentrates its efforts on making education accessible to every child in the tribal, rural, and urban areas through the concept of a Student Home (chhatralaya). Its goal is to ensure that value based education in a nurturing environment, reaches every home of the less privileged sections of the Indian society. Operating from the current 94 chhatralayas in 15 states of India, 34,000 students are benefitted. Swamiji aims at transforming Indian society through a network of seva, of caring, to help each child contribute to the progress of the nation. Worldwide, AIM for Seva has ardent support from people who passionately believe in its mission goal and the results. The center at Houston has been taking a lead attracting new supporters year after year. “We are small by design and this enables us to give individual attention.   We believe this leads to tangible benefits” said Krishna Mudan, who is on the Board of AIM for Seva.  “The dropout rates have been reduced from an astounding 84% in rural India to less than 15% at AIM Chatralayas.  The success rate of AIM students at Board exams has been an impressive 100%”, Mudan added.

The 95-minute evening’s entertainment was performed by six performers, including the choreographer and director Rukmini Vijayakumar, who danced to previously recorded music. Although predominantly in Bharathanatyam style, the innovative dance drama was presented with every dance’s movements poised and precise. Rukmani’s extensive training and expertise in Bharathanatyam, and exposure to acting, mat power pilates, kalari payattu and theatrical production have allowed her to explore new avenues way beyond a traditional dancer could dare. She was supported by the other impressively talented performers Parshwanath Upadhye, Shruti Gopal, Pavitra Bhat, Suhail Bhan, and Surabhi Bharadhwaj. The whole performance was fluid with flowing but untraditional exits and entrances..

The setting of the theme is as ancient as in a puranic story, taking place at Amarkantak, the place where  numerous Shivalingas had emerged but were hidden in the thick forest. A peaceful tribe came to live in the forest. They killed the animals in the forest for food, and lived harmoniously.  One day the tribal chief found an abandoned child in the forest and took her home to bring her up as his own. They named her Nayani. She was strange in many ways, but the tribe attributed it to the fact that she was adopted. As time passed Nayani began to hear and see things that others did not understand. She heard the sound of  “Aum” in the wind and in the water. She would offer flowers to an oddly shaped rock in the ground and would wander off with her own thoughts for many hours. Finally her parents thought  that she has become more of a nuisance and decide to punish her.  However, the tribe realized that she has some supernatural intelligence to search for Lord Shiva. At the end, the tribe joined her to worship the Lord.

Unlike many traditional dance dramas, this production was innovative in many ways; at the same time the director  kept the technical traditions intact.  Rukmini took upon herself an incredible challenge to tell the entire story in minimum words and came out successfully.  The music and the rhythmic syllables were the thread that supported the 90-minute long garland which looked magnificent all through its length.  Some of the tribal scenes where kalaripayattu adavus ( martial art) were used were phenomenal.  A few noteworthy scenes like the lullaby, deer hunt, the pure duet dance, playful time in the river were portrayed impressively and were intellectually inspiring and charming.

The music direction was splendid.  The attractively dynamic images and designs projected on the background to enhance and create a pleasant ambience throughout the performance, as well as the audio-visual effects  were ably managed by Arun Murthy.

For more information about AIM for Seva, visit www.  AIM for

Click here to watch a video


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