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Utsav pays ode to freedom fighters

The two-day event saw performances by Odissi exponent and Padma Shree awardee Ranjana Gauhar and her disciples as an ode to freedom fighters who dedicated their lives for India's independence.

The 18th edition of ‘Saare Jahan Se Accha’ took place at the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre in Delhi recently. The two-day event, organised by Utsav Educational and Cultural Society (UECS), commemorated India's struggle for independence and included several dance performances.

Odissi exponent and Padma Shree awardee Ranjana Gauhar took the centre stage to perform a musical dance drama, titled ‘Khud Mein Kabir, Kabir Mein Hum’ on the opening day. She, along with her disciple, Vinod Kevin Bachan, a recipient of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puruskar, performed on Kabir’s dohas. Though it was a dance performance, the duo used facial expressions to narrate the tale on saint Kabir’s life and philosophy as explained in the dohas.

When asked why she chose dohas instead of traditional music only, Gauhar said that it was their relevance in today’s times that led her to them.

“Kabir gave India the idea of the importance of a human life instead of the background a person comes from. His ideas, philosophy and dohas are still relevant in today’s times and used extensively, despite the fact that he lived 600 years ago. That’s why we decided to use them,” she explained.

Bachan said that the idea of freedom and independence (this year’s theme for the show) matches with Kabir’s ideology and philosophy.

“Saint Kabir was all about the freedom of mind, heart and soul. In dance too, we are given the independence to show our emotions as well as to move around the stage. Through ‘Khud Mein Kabir, Kabir Mein Hum’, we have shown independence in the way we used the mudras, our expressions and the song (dohas),” he added.

The show also included solo and group performances by master artists on the second day. Bachan, for instance, presented his solo performance (Odissi) on the life of goddess Sita. There were also two group performances. Jayaprabha Menon, a Kerala Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, performed Mohiniyattam with her disciples and renowned dancers Ashok and Bandita Goshal performed Odissi with their disciples from Bhubaneswar.

The event was graced by several prominent personalities from art, dance and theatre. Some of them included Padmashri Geeta Chandran (prolific Bharatanatyam dancer), Padmavibhusan Dr. Sonal Mansingh (Rajya Sabha member and renowned Odissi exponent), Padma Shree Shovana Narayan (Kathak exponent, Ramesh Chandra Gaur (Director, National School of Drama), SNA Awardee Geetanjali Lal (Kathak exponent), Amarendra Khatua (Former, DG, Indian Council for Cultural Relations) and Rama Pandey (author and former anchor, Doordarshan), to name a few.

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