By Suchitra Sairam
Sharing the reflection I shared with the Kala Vandanam family at our annual Vijayadasami celebration – Natya Sadhana.
It is with much joy that we are celebrating 19 years of Kala Vandanam in 2019. It has been a strange time since Natya Sadhana 2019, but we are fortunate to make it to this moment. I am delighted and grateful that we have a chance to be together today, and that the goals and spirit of what we share at Kala Vandanam have remained consistent. I am deeply appreciative that Kala Vandanam students and families make this shared Vijayadasami experience a priority in your busy lives, which have been further complicated by the pandemic. Kala Vandanam is only what it is because of our collective interests, values and passion – thank you all for investing some of yourselves to create this experience and these memories.
Despite the many obstacles and challenges, we have found ways to enhance our sadhana (discipline) and furthered our abhyaasa (repeated practice). Today, we rededicate ourselves to the journey, to the path of learning and wisdom, to be sensitive to our surroundings and what we experience, and to share with those around us. We honor knowledge, learning and art, and all of those who have shaped and guided us at every step and we must always honor and respect that history and bond. But with that, we must each also take ownership of our journeys as well; the idea that no matter how long we have been doing something, that we continue to seek and to upgrade ourselves in any way we can. It is also a day to remind us to give without expectations and with humility.
I offer my namaskarams and gratitude to my natyacharyas and gurus, Padmini Aunty, Shanta akka and Dhananjayan anna, and Master and Vasantha akka. Their gifts to me over these 35+ years are innumerable and priceless, and I can only make a small dent in that debt with continued study, practice and sharing based in humility and integrity.
It has been a rich year of learning and sharing; together, we had to learn how to learn as we navigated the challenges of social distancing, internet connectivity, devices, interruptions, masks, vaccination, you name it. I applaud students for their perseverance and patience – it is truly commendable. Several students also reached important milestones in their personal journeys, including two students completing their Arangetram and two students completing their Salangai Pooja in 2021. Each person blossoms in their own time; the goal is to keep the ground fertile so there is opportunity to grow and flourish, and truly enjoy the process.
The foundational values at Kala Vandanam of learning and practicing the art with humility and joy, striving for excellence, and constructive introspection for both personal and artistic growth are inspired by the guiding lights of my gurus and my personal experiences. My aspiration is that with these simple practices, we can’t help but develop a love for the art, a positive attitude, solid work ethic, empathy, compassion for others, humility and self-confidence. We each develop individuality with common roots, just as leaves of a tree dance individually as the breeze ripples through.
We celebrate the joy and hard work of past learning, and the promise of future learning today. It is my hope that with each Natya Sadhana, we share this joy as a Kala Vandanam family, celebrate the progress in each student’s journey, and that each student gains some inspiration and motivation to keep seeking more.