Punchkula dancers entertain Sydney Seniors of Sri Om Care

By Neena Badhwar

All the way from Punchkula, Haryana, India, came the troupe of Kalalayam Dance Academy and entertained seniors of the Indian community at Senior Week celebrations. Twenty five children ranging from 7 to 16 and their gurus both Rahul Gupta and his wife Seema Gupta came to Sydney as they were to perform at Holi Mahotsav at Darling Harbour. But due to unforeseen circumstances the troupe on the way here learnt that the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan’s Holi celebrations were cancelled. The spirits were down yet it all worked out well in the end as the kids   were able to, finally perform to Sri Om Care Seniors at Toongabbie Community Centre with around 250 people in attendance.

As the atmosphere in the hall was nostalgic with some brave singers transporting us to the era of golden songs – Ramiyya Vassa Vaiyya, Dum Dum Diga Diga, Chand si mehbooba ho meri tum, Nallika Padmasena, Solicitor, Seniors Rights Service talked about elder abuse and age care advocacy and any issues seniors may have at retirement villages. She urged them to contact her if they need any help which is provided free.

Ghulam Ali’s ghazal – Hum tere shehar mein aaye hain musafir ki tarah set the scene for eagerly awaited Kalalayam dancers. Suddenly the hall lit up with young energetic youngsters from India as they presented a brief glimpse of India from the initial Shiv Vandana a beautiful dance to invoke Lord Shiva followed by   Rajasthani Ghoomar, then Holi dance – Kanha kho gaya mera bajuband hori mein, Punjabi bhangra, dandia ending with a bollywood dance.

How these kids in a tight space adjusted so well and changed dresses in the nick of time was just amazing. To see them perform with no ado, smiling, bowing humbly to the crowd which clapped all the way. One could but only be proud of the group as compere Dr. Sonia Kumar said, “One girl’s visa did not come through. She was so keen that she joined us after a couple of days. And another little one had high fever as the parents who had accompanied them were getting her fever down by cold presses. She is also here dancing,”

Sonia said that the kids were practicing for months as mothers tagged along to take them to the academy and waited outside for hours. She read a little poem paying respect to mothers when she read the poem – Ma   Ki beti Jab Ma ban Gayi, Apni Hansi ke peechhe chhote chhote dard chhupana seekh gayi.”

And to all the NRIs present she also mentioned how the first flight to overseas must have been with all those apprehensions and anxiety. She said she felt the same on the way to Sydney.   And the guru, Rahul Gupta thanked all who made it possible and gave an excellent solo performance to delight us all. Kalalayan Dance Academy was incepted in 2005 and has contributed in quite a worthwhile manner by teaching dance to the children of the slums. So that they could either earn from the art or just dance for enjoyment.

TIDU talked to a couple of the children about Sydney and Australia, they said they really like Sydney, how clean and beautiful the city is, the houses too and how everything runs in such an orderly manner.

Sydney had its own artists – the local gidda ladies who were not only dressed to dazzle but also candidly created gidda steps on the spot and danced with full fervour in the spirit of Vaisakhi. And the program ended in the popular ghoomar dance, yet again, by Sydney’s own Meenakshi Group of Dance.

Present as VIPs were Councillor Lisa Lake representing the Mayor of Cumberland   Council, councillor Suman Saha, councillor Maninder Singh, Dr. Nihar Agar, Vijay Singhal from Hindu Council of Australia.

And to Rahul Gupta ji, we can only say, come again to Sydney !


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