Sari, Sherwani and Sangeet for a good cause

By Neena Badhwar

As you walk into the hall the song with the words that float in your ears ”˜à¤œà¥€à¤µà¤¨ का मतलब तो
आना और जाना है, दो पल के जीवन से इक उम्र चुरानी है’ beautiful Khushboo Chopra is singing. The message is quite profound.

It is a sad start to days of distressing scenes as India is hit with the killer wave of Covid-19. Ladies dressed in colourful shiny Saris and Indian outfits, men in Sherwanis, not many but some, singers entertaining with popular Indian film music. It is the ”˜Sari, Sherwani and Sangeet’ afternoon on a lazy Sunday.

The smiling faces belie what is beneath the surface, a nagging worry that racks our thoughts for the relatives back home reeling under the current killer Covid-19 that has mutated and is attacking everyone ”“ young and old.

People are quiet, three young girls are dancing to the song, one of them is full of life. She is a natural, flying her dupatta this way that way and her actions sweet, full of mischief. Outside Sharmila Maitra tells me three people in her family in India have died.

Don’t know whether to enjoy the songs that Shobha Ingleshwar has planned for the program, but mind wanders off to India, nevertheless.

Shobha is fundraising for the ”˜Full Stop Foundation’, an organisation that works to support victims of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.

Master of Ceremonies, beautiful Sanghmitra Kumar keeps you engaged with her clever quips between popular numbers, Sharmila Prasad giving her company both emceeing to ”˜Bekarar karke humein yun na jaayiye’; ”˜Inteha ho gayi intezar ki’; ”˜Badan pe sitaare lapete huye’ ”“ songs being pelted by singers Kedar Pagaddiinnimath, Shobha Ingleshwar, Daljeet Singh, Khushboo Chopra, Pankaj Ghadia and Ashrita Mani. Ladies get up to dance at the back to some peppy numbers.  

Subhshree does a beautiful dance to Shobha’s medley of ”˜Kabhi Aar, Kabhi Paar’; ”˜Aplam Chaplam’; ”˜Jhumka Gira Re’ as Hina Midha dances to ”˜Jai Ho’. Ashrita wins you over with her ”˜Jiya Jale’, Sharmila joins lost in her flowing dance movements. How can one stop Dave Passi and Kanchan, the loving couple as they dance to the romantic ”˜Abhi na jao chhod kar, dil abhi bhara nahi’. By now, people want more.

Audience have not had their full to heart’s desire, a sad pall covers all over, but songs seem to soothe the mood a bit as Shobha looks through her laptop to keep us entertained. Suddenly when the little girl slips on the floor while dancing, you can’t just help smiling. She has no idea of the tragedy that has struck India, people struggling to save family members, sick and desperately trying to seek medical help, some gasping for oxygen, pictures on television, them crying out for help are still going through everyone’s mind.  

What have we done as humanity to this beautiful planet and our beautiful children. Young girls dance to the music completely oblivious to the situation in India, these innocent faces of the future world. Sydneysiders listen to Sharmila Maitra’s plea for help to save the Mother Earth as she talks about biodegradable ”˜Green Straws’, she explains can replace the plastic straws that end up in the sea. Radio Sargam is doing live streaming of the program directly to its listeners. Harmohan Walia comes up to explain about his book ”˜Successful Stories of Indo-Australians’, why it is important to record our stories in it, the second volume is on the way, he says.

Shobha tells me later that ”˜Sari, Sherwani and Sangeet’ is donating proceeds of the show to the ”˜Full Stop Foundation’. We in our hearts pray that some divine force intervenes to put a full stop to the infliction of Covid and also to the rape and mistreatment of women. We hope that the world is rid of the sins we have committed, wish that the young children who are dancing in the hall have a better world to live in.

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