Revathi Ramachandran, former director, Kalakshetra, honouring Ramesh Hangloo, at Vasant Utsav Festival of Dance
Revathi Ramachandran, former director, Kalakshetra, honouring Ramesh Hangloo, at Vasant Utsav Festival of Dance (Photo | Martin Louis)

Vasant Utsav Festival of Dance: Celebrating cultural preservation

PS Niranjana

CHENNAI: Amid the crowd and prayers at Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore, the cheers and applause of a festival filled the air. Vasant Utsav Festival of Dance 2024 began on Wednesday with a Bharatanatyam recital by R Vijay Madhavan inside the temple. The event conducted by Saraswathi Educational Cultural and Charitable Trust, and the Kapaleeshwarar Temple was inaugurated by the former director of Kalashetra Foundation, Revathi Ramachandran. It also witnessed the honouring of several eminent figures in the field of culture preservation, marked the start of the 10-day dance festival. Melattur Bhagavatha Mela Gurus S Kumar, S Narasimhan and Dr S Venkatesan, Ramesh Hangloo and Mahesh Koul from Kashmir, Lokesh Sharma and Gm So Nagappan Ouduvar were presented with mementoes during the event.

The Vasant Utsav Festival of Dance, which has been conducted for over 20 years, is dedicated to the memory of Indira Gariyal, an ardent art enthusiast, who is the founder of Saraswati Educational Cultural and Charitable Trust. ‘The idea behind the festival is to bring back the traditions connected to dancing like performing in the temple. That is why it is being conducted on the sacred grounds of the Kapaleeshwara Temple,” says Priyadarshini Rajkumar, secretary of the Trust.

R Vijay Madhavan

The Melattur Bhagavatha Mela Gurus were honoured for their contribution to the preservation of the Bhagavatha Mela tradition — Ramesh for his service in promoting the Kashmiri Culture, Mahesh for the conservation of the Kashmir Shaivism, Lokesh for his contribution in preserving the Vedic heritage and Nagappa was bestowed with the Engineer Kupuraj Award for his contribution towards preserving the Siva Siddhanta tradition. “I found my culture’s roots alive in this holy land,” says Ramesh, pointing out the similarities between the Tamil and Kashmiri cultures and the temple architecture. Vedic scholar Lokesh points out how not enough recognition is given in such fields, unlike in the film or sports industries. “I am grateful that efforts are being made to ensure recognition in the field of culture preservation as well,” he adds.

The festival will continue the coming week with Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and even Chitra Nrityam, performed by various artistes from around the country. Meera Santhosh Iyer, Sanhita Basu Ghose, Vineela Roa, Gururaju, Kalaivani Rajmohan, Gayatri Vaudyanathan, Medha Kumbhojkar and Swarali Kumbhojkar, are some of the artistes featured. Various academies, dance schools and disciples of renowned gurus are also showcasing their talent throughout the festival. There will be two dance performances each day except on May 5, a holiday for the festival due to Pradosham.

Vasant Utsav Festival of Dance 2024 will continue till May 11, every day from 5.45 pm.