Chicago IL: On the auspicious occasion of Maha Sivarathri, Sri Venkateswara Swami (Balaji) Temple in Aurora, IL, organized a devotion filled cultural program on Saturday, March 5th in the temple auditorium. Maha Sivarathri is one of the most important religious festivals for those who follow Sanatana dharma. This is the time that Lord Siva protected the world by drinking the poison that arose from the churning of the great sea by devas and asuras. This is the time, in gratitude, Hindus fast, chant, pray, stay awake all night and perform abhishekams with great devotion.
“Om Namah Shivayah” was a unique program consisting of chanting of slokas, classical music and dance performances by featured artists, professional teachers of Chicagoland and their senior students. The classical Indian dance forms of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi have been presented in the Veluchamy auditorium.
The event began with a fervent invocation – Lingashtakam, Ananda Natamaduvar and Siva Panchakshari Stotram by young students of Smt. Devaki Janakiraman of Noopura Dance Academy. Further setting the devotional mood, students of Smt. Rama Gurupalli of Rama Advanced Music Academy rendered Sambhomahadeva, Mamavasadajanani and Mahaganapatim and students of Smt. Maragatham Mani of Ganalahari School of Music and Culture rendered Bhajans on Lord Siva.
The first of four featured presentations was next, with an exquisite Bharatanatyam performance by Ms. Swetha Ravishankar from Portland, Oregon. With grace and expertise, she explored the romantic love of mother Parvathi for Lord Siva through Shir Dandayudapani Pillai’s composition and Theruvil Vaarano. She also presented the item Mallari.
Soorya Dance School under the artistic director Jinoo Varghese presented Ardhanareeswara, a beautiful ragamalika, depicting the union of Lord Siva and Mother Parvathi. Mudra Dance Academy students, and artistic Director Kshama Shah gave an energetic and inspiring performance of Siva stuti and Natarja Natanam, with beautiful Siva costumes. Students of Smt. Mahalakshmi Varadhan of Noopura Dance Academy presented Bho Shambho, Nataraja Anjali and Ardhanarishwara Stuthi, which was well received.
The second featured Performance was an enthralling presentation of Bharatanatyam by Ms. Madhavi Reddi of Washington DC. With finesse and passion she presented beautifully choreographed pieces – Siddi Vinayakam, Adidum Arase and Shankara Shrigiri.
Sushmita Arunkumar of Nrithyanjali School of Dance gave a thrilling presentation of the thunderous descent of river Ganga from her celestial world on to the earth and how Lord Siva effortlessly contains her in his locks, in Thunga tarange gange. Her students presented Natamadum Nadanadi with ease.
The third featured presentation was a vibrant Kuchipudi performace by Ms Aparna Satheesan, artistic director of Samyoga from Indiana. With beautiful expression and precise foot work, she presented Ganesha Pravesha Daravu and Ganapathy Kauthuvam in praise of Lord Ganesha and Shiva stuthi where she explored the stories of Markandeya, and Tripurasura and the swallowing of halahala by Lord Siva.
Dr. Hemalatha Burra a Sanskrit scholar and a retired professor of Sri Satya Sai University, India, made a unique sloka presentation. While her young students rendered Ardhanareeswara stortram and Sivatandava stotram with accurate pronunciation, amazing discipline and musical precision, a group of ladies chanted beautifully Adi Sankara’s Soundaryalahari with English commentary.
The fourth and final featured presentation was by Sri Pabitra Pradhan’s Odissi dance. His grace of movement, energetic foot work, astounding sense of balance as he rendered Sivapanchaka and Pancha bhuta captivated the audience.
Students of Smt. Sowmya Kumaran of Nrithyasangeeth presented Kapalini beautifully and was well appreciated. Guru Anupama Rajesh, artistic director of Nrithya Geethanjali Dance Academy, along with her students presented Deva Stuthi, and Idadu padam with great ease and beauty. A special mention of the item Andanal Ini varumo by Pravalika Bhagavatula, a special needs child, was appreciated by one and all. This was followed by the concluding presentation of Guru Poonam Mahesh of Nrityanant Performing Arts, and her students show casing Siva kirtanam and Sambho stuti. The beautifully coordinated costumes were pleasing to the eye and the dance was enthralling.
This Sivaratri 2016 event was coordinated by the Balaji temple cultural team. The emcees – Janaki Madugula and Saroja Ravi were marvelous at their job and were successful in keeping the interest of the audience sustained. Sri Azad Sunkavalli and Sri Kumar handled the audio. Welcome words and vote of thanks were given by Viji Susarla, co-chair of the cultural committee.