Sunday, December 13, 2009
V.R.Devika gave an illustrated talk on Shiva, Nataraja and Orion at the literary club of Gymkhana club of Chennai on 12th December 2009. It was organised by club member and Chennai favourite gourmet cook and cook writer and textile expert Sabitha Radhakrishna.
more pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/trustaseema/20091213GymkhanaTalk#
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
We had the satisfaction of a perfect coalition event with all partners, Aseema, Nalamdana, PERCH and Kalakshetra coming together in great camaraderie. It was worth doing even if to discover the possibility and values of friendship and team spirit.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
V.R.Devika was chief guest at a sharing session with children with social and economic disadvantages organised by play school Yellow Bus at Shastrinagar women's association premises. They presented costume dance and a puppet show for children and gave them gifts. There were some collage work also. Kalanjiyam, our partner organisation came and distributed free audio Cd's of Pappara Mittai consisting of stories told by children to children. V.R.Devika did some story telling too.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Afternoon was a presentation on Traditional Performing arts in Education for teachers with story telling. Wonderful response again. Teachers were really full of fun and great participants.
Pictures are at
the drive to Hosur from Chennai was just beautiful with a very good road, a very pleasant weather and great scenery. Driving back from Hosur to Chennai was very interesting. We lost our way and were on the way to Salem and had to turn back to come to Chennai. The rain in Chennai was just unbelievable.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
We had a workshop on Gandhian ideals in education and story telling for schools teachers from various little villages in Kalanjiyam centre at Kalluppatti village near Madurantakam. Please see the mail below. We gave away 20 sets of Kathai Aruvi sponsored by Ramanan Lakshminarayanan. Raviraj and his wife Mansa Devi bought 5 acres of land at Kalluppatti and have been doing great value addition to panchayat and governement schools around that area. They are cultivating the land and all the produce is for the children. Amazing work with Kalanjyam staff being the women in the area who go around to the schools and see to clean toilets, health cards for children, ensuring children wear slippers and look for other needs of the school. They are doing a library and strengthening the govt primary schools in the area. check out http://www.kalanjiyam.org/
Greetings from Kalanjiyam. I, Mansa and all at Kalanjiyam were extremely happy with your visit today and all will cherish the time you spent with us. As always, I learned a great deal from you, as did our staff. The program today will be very useful and valuable for our teachers who participated. They will really benefit from the Kathai Arivu and hope that you will come again to give more inputs to our children and teachers in this regard. We will share with you on how the teachers use the Katahi Arivu in the near future. Primary Schools participating today were:
from Kalpat, Dharmapuram, Periya Vellikkadu , Chinna Venmani Periya Venmani, Ariyanur,. Melakaandai, Kizhakaandai, Maruvalam, Zamin Endathur, Ozhavetti, Athivakkam, RC School, Pavunjur, RC School, Nelvaipalayam, DGSEA Vilvarayanallur, Gurukulam, Maduranthakam, Thiruvangunam, Melapattu, Mambakkam, Kandaracherri, Maduranthakam, Nelvai, Vedavakkam, Nethapakkam, Nesapakkam
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Tuesday, Oct 13, 2009
Setting Ahimsa to dance
Students of Avvai Home presented "Ahimsa Devi" in dance form to a rapt audience.
The girls explained how Ahimsa devi grants protection, bounty, access to knowledge and happiness.
Expressions : Explaining the significance.
You know Ahimsa as something that Mahatma Gandhi preached and followed till the very end, but did you also know that Ahimsa was personified as a Goddess in Jainism? Twenty six girls from Avvai Home enlightened all present at their school about the concept and her various names. “Ahimsa Devi” was a production conceived and organised by Aseema Trust as a part of their extended Gandhi Jayanthi celebrations.
In dance form
The girls, dressed in knee-length cotton sarees and pyjamas, depicted a third of the Goddess’ 60 names through dance that was set to a song sung by Bombay Jayashri, accompanied by Ananathanaryanan, the Veena exponent of Kalakshetra and musician Ganapathy on Mridangam, Tabla and Pakhawaj. The soulful music blended well with the smooth choreography by guru Premnath, a long-term associate of Aseema in its workshops.
In the dance, the visibly nervous but excited girls explained to the audience how Ahimsa Devi grants protection, bounty, access to knowledge, generates happiness and bears our sins.
“When I was reading a book on Ahimsa, I stumbled upon this ideology of the Jains where a concept is personified as a Goddess, just like how we have personified ‘Mother India’.
I was also reading about the 60 different names that she has and then it struck me that it would be interesting to make it into a dance production. That’s when I started working on it,” explains V.R. Devika, Managing Trustee, the Aseema Trust.
The girls, all of them students of Std XI, who participated in the programme were also equally enthusiastic about having a different outlet apart from just academics and also put up a social awareness play on HIV AIDS as it was important to raise awareness and educate their fellow students about it.
Apparently, the girls were involved in a discussion about the “Ahimsa Devi” production and they examined each name and its significance, and also suggested possibilities of concepts like how Ahimsa ensures wealth — possibly, by not destroying the environment; we only stand to benefit from Nature’s bounties in return.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
2. Video clippings and talk on Gandhi by V.R.Devika at L.M.Dadha School.
3. "Creating a Sahridaya" Workshop for school teachers at Balamandir resource centre.
4. Spinning on the Charkha with students from Avvai Home at Nageswara Rao Park.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
25th – 30th September NSS Camp at Kanathoor. 1st October – “Creating a Sahridaya – M.K.Gandhi” talk with power point presentation of video clippings by V.R.Devika 10 am MGR Janaki College, 1 pm L.M.Dadha School, Choolaimedu. 2nd October – 10 am - 3 pm - “Creating a Sahridaya” Workshop for school teachers by V.R.Devika and Priya Nagesd of Samanvaya at Balamandir resource centre. 6 pm - Sarvodaya International presentation “Vande Mahatma” by Swarnamalya at Nageswararao Park. 5th October – 1 pm – Spin a Yarn – Besant Theosophical School, 3 pm – Avvai Home. 6th October – Spin a Yarn – 10 am Children’s Garden School, 7th October – 10 am - Navbharath Matriculation, 12 - Vidyodaya. 8th October – 10 am Suddhananda Vidyalaya.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
A great concert for children by Aruna Sairam at SOS Children's village. Accomponied by J.Vaidyanathan on mridangam and Padma Shankar on violin, she enthralled the children with her little affectionate narration and great singing. Rhythmical and interactive. Great. She did this concert completely free of charge when I told her about sos village she was happy to come and sing there for children. Om Shakthi in honour of mothers, Vaarathirundal (Kanthimathipillai tamil) , Ganapati abhang and Ooththukkadu Kalinga Narthana tillanna for children. It was a memorable evening. The Aseema trust is happy to have organised it.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Online edition of India's National NewspaperFriday, Aug 07, 2009
Colourful slice of culture
Music, dance and folk arts… Svanubhava 2009 offered students a complete artistic experience.
PHOTOS: R. Shivaji Rao EXCHANGING MUSICAL IDEAS: Therukoothu performance in full flow
A ten-year old is in a tearing hurry, and has no time to answer my questions.
She’s running off to watch Pt. Birju Maharaj’s Kathak performance, organised as part of Svanubhava, the festival of classical music and dance for students.
I manage to corner Apoorva and Ananya from Pune. They are not students of music or dance, and do not know Tamil either, but this doesn’t seem to pose any difficulties. “Music is not constrained by language barriers,” they aver.
S. Balaji, a student of the Government Music College, and Tilak and Saravanan, former students, say, “Lectures by practising vidwans are extremely useful.”
Petra and Lida, both from the Czech Republic, like the air of informality that characterises Svanubhava.
Students at Kalakshetra.
The relaxed atmosphere helps students to shed their inhibitions and participate in interactive sessions such as Neyveli Santhanagopalan’s lec-dem on Tiruppugazh.Discourse on Tiruppugazh
As always, Santhanagopalan connects with the audience at once with his gently bantering tone, which, however, does not distract from the seriousness of his purpose, which is to popularise Tiruppugazh among youngsters.
The lec-dem begins with a brief introduction to the life of Arunagirinathar, the author of Tiruppugazh.
Santhanagopalan teaches the audience anga talam, and sings a verse in the talam, and the audience keep beat.
What’s more, there’s an unexpected treat waiting — they are given copies of the hymn and they sing along too. While research in the area of music therapy has focussed on the raga aspect, maybe research into the beneficial effects of talas should also be taken up, Santhanagoplan suggests.
What did the audience think of the programme? Ramna and Archana from Kerala have decided to include Tiruppugazh in their Bharatanatyam performances in future.
A section of the auidence.
Ramya Shridhar, a sixth grade student from Chicago, says proudly, “I now know all about anga talam.” Balasubramanian, a first year post-graduate student of music, is lost in admiration of the children who were part of a percussion ensemble. “I am glad Svanubhava had an exclusive tala vadya concert. I hate it when people go out during tani avartanam. Hopefully such programmes will bring about a change in the attitude of future audiences.”
Unnikrishnan’s full bench concert the following day, is a good idea, for the students who, the previous day, heard a tala vadhya concert, now see how different percussion instruments can be used in a concert. The gethu and konnakkol are big hits with the young seekers. Avudayarkoil Subramaniam explains the difficulties that the gethu, a stringed percussion instrument, poses.
S. Karthick says aesthetics are imperative in konnakkol, and it must not be a hindrance to the vocalist. Sukumar and Rajesh, students of the Government Music College, say, “We didn’t know that there is much more to konnakkol than mere routine reciting of jatis. Besides, we had never seen the gethu before.”
In his lecture on how to structure compositions, P.S. Narayanaswamy recalls how Semmangudi’s sangatis would suit the raga bhava and the sahitya. For example, he wouldn’t sing Veena Kuppa Iyer’s Ananda Bhairavi varnam like other tana varnams, but would add spurithams. In structuring compositions, Semmangudi ensured that his sangatis were suitable for all types of voices. That is why his patanthara is popular. He gave different types of embellishments to different kritis in Kharaharpriya. For example, ‘Rama Nee Samanamevaru’ can be sung even by beginners. ‘Chakkani Raja’ is for those with more gnanam. ‘Navasiddhi Petraalum’ has a completely different flavour.
A person in the audience wondered what influence P.S. Narayanaswamy has on his students. A.S. Murali had a pithy answer: “Our guru’s influence is obvious in the way we sing.”
In the discussion on guru sishya paramapara, Padma Subramaniam, Chitra Visweswaran, Kamalakar Rao and O.S. Tyagarajan emphasise that a guru discerns the potential and the limitations of a student and teaches accordingly.The folksy touch
A new addition this year is therukkoothu by Purisai Duraisami Kannappa Thambiran Parambarai Therukoothu Mandram. V.R. Devika gives a brief introduction to the art of therukkoothu. We learn that E.Krishna Iyer even tried to persuade the Music Academy to include therukkoothu in their programmes.
The theme for the day is ‘Panchali Sabatham’ from the Mahabharata. “Panchali Sabatham is usually a six-hour programme in villages, but here we pruned it to 40 minutes,” says Purisai Sambandam. “We have used three viruttams and 15 songs.” Since it is considered inauspicious to end with Panchali’s oath, the programme ends with Dushasana tiring out, when he is unable to disrobe Draupadi.
“There are ten adavus in therukkoothu that involve the use of the legs, but with the songs and the body movements, this number increases. There are jathis in koothu, and we teach the jathis and their adavus,” explains Sambandam.
Ramdharshan, a fourth standard student, and Mokshavati, a fifth standard student, find the koothu lively, but cannot follow the story. “It would help if they told us the story first,” they say.
There is more to come in this year’s Svanubhava. To quote Santhanagoplan, students can look forward to “many more divine experiences from Svanubhava.”
V.R.Devika designed a workshop for school students and teachers on the topic of "SWARAJ" and "SWADESHI" at Dakshinachitra. Issues discussed were what Swaraj actually means apart from political independence and democracy and elections. students were asked to come up with meanings. A powerpoint presentation with video clippings of original mahatma gandhi footage was shown to students. Then they were asked to go explore Dakshinachitra and come back and sit in smaller groups, deliberate among themselves on what they had seen and heard the morning and recall it in words on chart papers and then present it to the larger group. The first 93 class IX boys and girls from Uthandi government school had a game with Priya Nagesh on Swaraj which had different tasks assigned to children who had to look after their role in the group. then the students discussed that freedom also meant cooperation and recognition of rights of others. Spinning on the Charkha was tried by several students and then a quiz on the poster exhibition of Tamilnadu's contribution to freedom struggle put up by Roja Muthiah Library was held and a lacquer decorated pen was given as prize for each correct answer. The second day the workshop was shifted to Thirupporur school as Tuesday is a holiday for Dakshinachitra. Class XI was engaged in a conversation on Swaraj and given a demonstration of Spinning. A workshop is scheduled again on 18th August as the powerpoint could not be presented. The third day, students were given the brief on what, why, how, who, where of Dakshinachitra.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
V.R.Devika gave a two day workshop on Gandhi and education for rural school teachers at Sevayur an and half away from the city of Madurai. It was organised at the CCD sadhana centre. Organised by Priya Nagesh of Samanvaya knowledge trust, apart from Devika, Meenakshi of Puvidham a great earth lover who runs a school which teachers children of farmers to not just learn the letters but also love nature and learn to farm with Madhavraj a committed teacher in her school gave teachers glimpses into child friendly learning methods. There was also spinning on the Charka. An amazing experiment that is happening there with farming, education and self sustenance through the efforts of Mr.Muthu who is spearheading CCD and its community projects is simply amazing. CCD has been facilitating a process of developing the local resource base, building on the traditional knowledge and skills, and improving the community access to mainstream resources. The scale is awesome and the feeling of participation and warmth is very palpable. To know more, go to http://www.ccd.org.in/