Bombay Jayashri is truly a great artist. Here is my story. ICPR (Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi), sent me a book "Ahimsa - from Mahivira to Mahatma" by Dr.Geeta Mehta to review for its journal. In its Jainism chapter, I came across the description of a Goddess Ahimsa Devi and her sixty names. Immediately, I thought of a dance production on it. My idea was to discuss these sixty names and their meanings with the girls of Avvai Home and get them to perform a small dance for their peers. (Ahimsa is Sanskrit for non-violence in case you did not know) Audaciously, I sent an email to celebrated Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri asking her if she would sing them like a viruttam and record it in her home and give it to me to work with adding I would understand if she was too busy. My joy knew no bounds when she called me within minutes of my sending the mail and said she would like to do it well and that she will fix a time and date with a recording studio she knows and will come and do it. She was at the Resound studio of Sai Shravanam in Parameswari Nagar at 8 am and gave a superlative recording within minutes. She made the sixty names into three groups and chose the ragas Revathi, Kalyani and Darbari Kanada and sang so soulfully that it gave me goose pimples. I wanted to add percussion and Veena. Sai Shravanam is a genius with recording and mixing and an extremely talented musician himself having learnt the Tabla from Zakir Hussain and accompanied celebrity singers and dancers including Aruna Sairam, Bombay Jayashri and Chitra Visweswaran. He is a graduate in computer science, has an MCA and a certificate examination in music production from Berkeley University. Has done a stint as a speech and sound specialist at the Computer Science Department of the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras and has created quite a few albums which are doing very well. Sai Sharavanam brought in percussionist Ganapathy and got him to play Mridangam, Tabla and Pakhawaj for the three different ragas in three different tempos and then got Ananathanaryanan the Veena exponent of Kalakshetra to play ragam and tanam, added a few effects of nature, recorded my commentary and did a mix (all recorded in different sessions) and voila, we have a superlative music piece for 24 minutes. All the musicians and the music director worked with touching enthusiasm and affection and did not even talk about money. This I feel is a great reward for the work that the Aseema Trust is doing and now Premnath (dance graduate of Kalakshetra doing great work in north Madras with a very good school of dance and music and art that he calls Rukminidevi Natyakshetra and a great resource person for Bharathanatyam for Aseema) and I are really very nervous to work with such high quality music with 25 girls of Avvai Home in their NSS camp. We only have an hour each for four days. Let us hope the same luck that got us this great music will stand by with us when we get the girls to perform at Avvai Home in Adyar at 3.30 pm on 5th October 2009- - ---------V.R.Devika
The Aseema Trust’s Gandhi Jayanthi engagements.
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.
V.R.Devika gave a presentation on the lessons she learnt from traditional performing arts of Bharathanatyam, Therukoothu, Oyilattam and Devarattam for use in teaching in the classroom on the occassion of teachers day (September 5th which happens to be Dr.Radhakrishnan's birth anniversary). Video clippings shown were of Mahatma Gandhi's dandi march, Therukoothu Tugil, Pillaiyyar, padukalam, Jakkamma shrine in Kodangipetti village, Devarattam at a wedding in Kodangipatti, Kottaipatti Senraya Perumal temple festival and Devarattam and Sevaiattam there with clippings of a large number of children dancing in productions based on these forms. Demonstrations of Bharathanatyam adavu was done by Premnath and Koothu mantapam was done by Ashwini Kashi with Devika. Preetham helped Devika to edit longer videos and taking clippings from them for power point presentation. The leture was organised by Tamil Heritage Group with Prof. Swaminathan, Dr.T.K.Ramachandran, Annamalai, Badri Sheshadri and Kannan. The Spin a Yarn booklet and poster on spinning was distributed by The Aseema Trust at the programme.
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.
The Aseema Trust was founded by V.R.Devika to build bridges between traditional performing arts and crafts and to bring the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and the craft of spinning on the Charkha into modern lives.