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Seattle in US to bring one of the Rabindranath Tagore’s finest compositions to the public

The lyrical saga has been directed by Moumita Bhattacharya and produced by Nitya Gupta

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Seattle, March 15, 2017: A century after Rabindranath Tagores visit to Seattle in 1916, a South Asian Arts Organisation based in the Washington State area of the US, is bringing one of Tagores finest compositions to the public.

Pratidhwani, a non-profit driven to create and promote performing opportunities for arts and artists of South Asia, has just announced its 10th flagship dance show, “Chitrangada”. It’s the story of a warrior princess from the ancient Hindu epic “Mahabharata” that Tagore retold as a dance drama in 1892.

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Tagore is India’s first Nobel Laureate as well as the first non-European to win the prize in Literature. “Chitrangada,” one of his finest compositions, is a lyrical saga of one woman’s quest for love, courage, and the true meaning of beauty. This tribute to the myriad facets of femininity make it as relevant today as it was centuries ago.

Comprising of a group of professionals who have full-time careers and dedicate their late evenings to creating art, Pratidhwani is committed to bringing South Asian performing arts and artists to audiences in the greater Seattle area since 2001.

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The lyrical saga has been directed by Moumita Bhattacharya and produced by Nitya Gupta.

“Chitrangada is a lyrical expression on gender stereotypes. And yet, it is a story of love. Of the ability of love to transform and the fact that love needs to embrace and support a person’s raison d’être. This piece of art is a showcase of multiple music genres, dance forms, and costume styles of the Indian subcontinent,” said Bhattacharya.

It will be performed in The Allen Theatre at ACT, 700 Union Street, in downtown Seattle. The production opens on April 28 and runs through May 20. (IANS)

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7 Things That We Can Learn From ‘Arjuna’ of Bhagavad Gita

Arjuna is one of the best examples of an ideal student. There are many qualities of Arjuna that we should try imbibing in ourselves. Read on to find what can be learned from Arjuna.

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Krishna and Arjuna
Lord Krishna and Arjuna from a scene in the Hindu epic book Mahabharata. Pixabay

Arjuna is one of the characters around whose life story is depicted by the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna in many ways was an ordinary person just like us. The one thing that makes him more than ordinary was the fact that he had a good heart. But he also had his own good and bad habits. Lord Krishna chose Arjuna to reveal the Gita because he saw that not many men were as sensitive as Arjuna. Usually, not many men hesitate morally in order to fight a war and stand for their rights. We have received the teachings of God because of Arjuna who was the student and Veda Vyasa who recorded it. We have made a list of 7 things about why he was an ideal student and how we can learn things from ‘Arjuna’.

Death of jayadarath
The painting depicts the scene where Arjuna is fighting in the war of Mahabharata. Wikimedia

Here are the 7 things

Humility

Arjuna was very humble and sincere. He was willing to accept his flaws and learn from them. To quote the Gita, Arjuna to Krishna, “Overcome by faintheartedness, confused about my duty (Dharma), I ask you: Please tell me that which is truly better for me. I am your student. Please teach me, I have taken refuge in you” Gita 2.7

Willingness to leave his family for learning

When the Pandavas were banished to the forest because of Duryodhana treachery, Arjuna decided to make use of the time he had and learn some new skills and the science and art of using new weaponry. So he separated from his family in order to learn about advanced weapons from Bhagwan Shiva.

Respectful towards his teacher

Arjuna was extremely respectful towards his teacher and always adhered to his instructions. This can be understood in the following instance. Guru Dronacharya had been humiliated by King Drupad. When all the Pandava princes ended their education Guru Dronacharya asked for his ‘gurudakshina’ which was capturing King Drupad alive and bringing the king to him. Arjuna faithfully carried out his teacher’s orders even if has meant risking his own life.

Hindu Epic Mahabharata. Image source: Wikimedia

Not being addicted to sleeping or eating

Arjuna was a sincere student who was ready to give up on his sleep and food if he wanted to master something. The following incident proves Arjuna’s sincerity and dedication. One time while Bheema, his brother was eating his food, the lamp blew out leaving them in darkness. Bheema was still able to complete his food. Inspired from Bheema eating in the dark, he thought that if Bheema could eat in the dark, then he could also aim and hit his target in the dark only by listening to the sounds made by the target. He kept on practicing this skill until he mastered the skill of shooting in the dark. In order to master it, he had to cut down on his sleeping hours. Arjuna has another name ‘Gudakesha’ which meant ‘He who has mastered sleep’.

Attentive and focused

Arjuna was very observant and focused. There is a very famous incident which proves Arjuna’s was very attentive and dedicated. Once Guru Dronacharya asked all the Kauravas and the Pandavas to shoot the eye of a bird that was perched on the tree with a bow and arrow. He called each of them one by one and asked they could see. All of them answered with things like tree, bird, leaves and Guru Drona himself. When Arjuna’s turn came, he answered that he could only see the bird’s eye. Thus he was able to hit the target successfully because his focus was only on the bird’s eye. There is no doubt that Arjuna became an extremely good archer.

Hindu Epic Mahabharata. Wikimedia

Persistent and Hardworking

Arjuna was extremely hard working and spent a lot of effort and time in mastering his skills. Once all the Pandavas and the Kauravas complained that Guru Dronacharya favored Arjuna too much. Dronacharya decided to test them to in order to see how they can perform compared to Arjuna. He sent Arjuna on an errand. Immediately after sending Arjuna, he taught everybody about aiming at a leaf and hitting it successfully. The lesson was completed and everybody left the site before Arjuna returned. On returning he saw a lot split leaves on the ground and understood that he had missed an important lesson. In order to make up for the lesson, he started practicing on leaves in his free time and thus covered up his missed lesson quickly. After coming to know the hard work that Arjuna put in, in order to cover the missed lesson, all the princes understood why he was Guru’s favorite.

Chose God over materialistic riches and power

Before the great war, both Arjuna and Duryodhana approached Krishna to get him to fight for their respective sides. But Krishna told them that he would personally not pick up any weapon and fights and gave both them a choice between him and his mighty army. Duryodhana chose Krishna’s might army while Arjuna just chose Krishna as his charioteer and allowed God to lead him and did not care about the mighty army. Life is full of choices. We often act as Duryodhana and choose the path of power and wealth, compromising on our honesty and justice. But we should always be like Arjuna choosing the path of truth and ‘dharma’ over worldly temptations. This is the reason why Arjuna won the battle even after having a smaller army

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Different Versions of India’s National Song ‘Vande Mataram’ over the past 140 Years of its History

Shri Aurobindo had translated Vande Mataram to English in 1909

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National Song of India
Vande Mataram. Wikimedia
  • ‘Vande Mataram’ is the National Song of India written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay
  • The song was published in 1876 in a mix of Bengali and Sanskrit words
  • Vande Mataram was also a slogan for the freedom fighters of the nation

August 19, 2017: It was in 1876 that Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote Sanskrit and Bengali mixed verses of Vande Mataram, the national song of India. However, it was originally written in Bengali as ‘Bande Matara’ a few years before it published.

The most famous rendition of the National Song was carried out at an Indian National Congress meeting by Rabindranath Tagore in 1896.

ALSO READ: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee: Remembering the voice who gave India ‘Vande Mataram’

Vande Mataram as a phrase was also of common usage among the freedom fighters during the struggle for independence from the British rule.

The song has been used in the pop culture and Bollywood in a variety of ways. In 1952, Lata Mangeshkar covered the song on Hemant Kumar’s tune for the movie Anand Math. Later in 1998, Lata Mangeshkar did her over version which had added stanzas of Hindi but the tune remained the same.

Manna Dey’s version came out in 1951 and AR Rehman’s version of the song came out in 1997 as Maa Tujhe Salaam. The most recent, in 2012, Sonu Nigam along with Sunidhi Chauhan did a version featuring famous percussionist Bickram Ghosh.

In poetry as well, different ragas have been used to express the national song.

The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, favored Pandit VD Paluskar’s composition. Paluskar himself was known for singing the song in Congress meetings. Interestingly enough, he was once intercepted by Maulana Ahmed Ali’s objection at the Kakinada Convention in 1933.

The Congress decided to use the song’s first two stanzas while excluding the other half which is about Hindu goddesses. These two stanzas were sung at the All India Radio on 15th August 1947 by Pandit Omkarnath Thakur.

Tagore’s version in 1896 was a slower one. A gramophone record of 1904 which is now available online was released with Tagore’s voice.

Shri Aurobindo had translated Vande Mataram to English in 1909.

Vande Mataram, in its over 140 years of history, has come under a lot of allegations. Starting with the origination, Vande Mataram faces challenges as it comes from Chattopadhyay’s novel Anandamath in which the enemy was identified as the Muslim ruling class. Additionally, the invocation of Hindu goddesses in later stanzas was questioned as well.

However, the song still managed to become India’s national song with Jana Gana Mana being the national anthem.

The Indian National Army (INA) had composed a Hindi version of Jana Gana Mana to replace their anthem for Provisional Government for Free India in Singapore, which was Vande Mataram.

Objections to Vande Mataram were first aired publicly in 1933. At the time, Vande Mataram was sung along Saare Jahan Se Acha by poet Allama Iqbal. Iqbal had written this song in 1904 and had initially titled it as Tarana-e-Hind. But within two years, drastic changes took place. Iqbal became an advocate for the two nation theory and demanded a separate Pakistan. He also changed the title of the song to Tarana-e-Milli.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


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India’s First Partition Museum in Amritsar to Mark 70 Years of Independence From Colonial Rule

The museum is a nonprofit trust that has raised money from companies including the Hindustan Times and Airtel and individuals such as Suhel Seth

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Museum
Refugees en route to Pakistan during partition. Wikimedia
  • To mark seven decades of India and Pakistan as independent nations, a new museum has been inaugurated
  • The last of the 14 galleries of the museum is known as the Gallery of Hope, where visitors are invited to write down messages
  • Ahluwalia said she wanted to establish the museum after hearing her 83-year-old grandmother’s stories of the subcontinent for years

Amritsar, India, August 18, 2017: 70 years have passed since Pakistan and India were made from the former British colony. Until now, there had never been an avenue to know about the memorabilia and stories of those individuals who lived through the horror of partition. For marking seven decades of these two nations as independent countries, a new museum has been inaugurated.

“If you look at any other country in the world, they’ve all memorialized the experiences that have defined and shaped them. Yet this event that has so deeply shaped not only our sub-continent but millions of individuals who were impacted has had no museum or memorial 70 years later,” said the Partition Museum’s CEO, Mallika Ahluwalia.

The exhibitions that are held in red-brick building of Town Hall in Amritsar, the border city of north India, include proofs like newspaper clippings, personal items donated and photographs, which show how the area’s freedom fight from colonial rule developed into one of the most violent scenes witnessed by it, as communal clashes killed numerous people of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs communities and an additional 15 million dislodged from their ancestors’ homes.

ALSO READ: Top Highlights of PM Narendra Modi’s Speech on India’s 71st Independence Day

An ancient pocket watch belonging to a person killed in Pakistan during mob violence. A traditional cot of rope carried across the border by a refugee. Fabrics which were woven from craftsmen of the time. And various old family photos.

Screens are put that display video interviews of the now-elderly people who survived. The last of the 14 galleries of the museum is known as the Gallery of Hope, wherein visitors are summoned to write down messages of peace and love on papers in the shape of a leaf before putting them on a tree with barbed-wire. The idea, as said by Ahluwalia, was to invite visitors to contribute in the tree’s “greening” and to reflect and encourage peace between the nations.

“You end up feeling so grateful to that generation who, I think, helped rebuild the nation, despite having suffered such trauma,” said Ahluwalia.

She said she wished to establish the partition museum after hearing the stories of her grandmother who is 83-years-old about the subcontinent before the splitting took place and before she was forced to leave her home in Pakistani as a girl of 13 years.

“What must it have felt like for her, to one day come from, you know, a relatively affluent family, have a normal background, and the next day all you have left of your things is a small suitcase,” Ahluwalia said. Her personal experience made her think it was essential to build the museum, “especially as we saw that generation leaving us.”

This museum is more crucial as it is the first partition museum of India, she said. The tickets are rated low in order to motivate people to visit the museum. It is a nonprofit museum and companies like the Hindustan Times and Airtel and individuals like Suhel Seth have helped it raise money. The place was donated by the government of Punjab.

Shiv Visvanathan, a sociologist said that the subject has been painful for several people, and that reconciliation needs the work of both the sides. The museum too, should reveal realities of both sides, he said.

“If a nation-state becomes the repository of memory, it becomes a one-sided memory,” Visvanathan said. “We have to acknowledge the mutuality of violence. There is no one truth. No one victim.”

This museum is situated in Amritsar, well-known for the famous Golden Temple as this city of Punjab marks one of the first arrival points when refugees made their way to India.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025