‘Oasis in desert’ helps people fight depression

Dansuese Vasantha Vaikunth has counselled about hundred people from South India in last four months over calls or Skype

BENGALURU: Professional Bharatnatyam dancer Vasantha Vaikunth has launched an online NGO lifenliving.org to provide emotional support to people who are dealing with issues in marriage, parenting, midlife crisis and retirement. She has worked with 100 people from South India in four months on Skype, and  over phone.

Bharatnatyam dancer Vasantha
Vaikunth counsels people

“It is heart breaking to see loneliness and depression increasing in our society and I am happy to have created a platform to help people. They remain anonymous and hence, feel safe and can open up freely.” She also holds workshops for college students and corporates and is active on social media.

People from all over South India call her or video chat with her on Skype. “I do not offer them readymade, instant solutions or answers. They are encouraged to introspect and come up with solutions themselves. It is important that you first identify the core issue that is causing pain or worry.” As of now the counselling service is free of cost.

“Dance is my passion but counselling and working with people and their issues is my higher calling and purpose,” she says. She terms it life skill coaching which incorporates philosophy and lessons from Indian scriptures and practices such as yoga and meditation. Dance is a way of life; spirituality is just me,”
she says.

Vasantha has done more than 100 dance shows all over the world. She was an art curator in the Middle-East and a popular columnist with Times of Oman and Gulf news. She comes from a family of journalists. “My father, a noted journalist and editor of a prominent English newspaper, groomed me to be an artist and a journalist.” She gets invited as a visiting speaker in many universities in the USA and UK.  

Vasantha was born flat footed, with an extra bone in her feet and was advised not to train in dance. But she decided to follow her passion after 20 years when she and her husband moved to Muscat. “It was a challenge to introduce classical Indian dance at a time when it was relatively unknown and I was called ‘oasis in the desert’ as this region doesn’t really inspire the arts.”

Vasantha Vaikunth has trained number of students in India and abroad. She has Kalaimamani Award from the government of Tamil Nadu, Bharthiya Pravasi from Delhi and Acharya Kalavipanchi from the late Balamurlikrishna in Chennai. Vasantha can be contacted on lifenliving.org.

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The New Indian Express