Padma Vibhushan Dr Sonal Mansingh is a revered name in the world of Indian cultural milieu.
I am sure all of you will agree to me that the name Sonal Mansingh and ‘Goddess of Dance’ are synonyms. Recently the Diva of dance celebrated her 75th birthday and wow what a celebration it was people from all over the world came together juts to get a glimpse of the Dancing goddess and yes let me admit I too was one the many.
‘My Dancing Son’ is what Sonal Maa calls me and ‘My Dancing Mother’ is what she mean to me so it was but obvious that I was a part of the grand celebration. At the birthday festival some things were planned as usual but some were a surprise and oh boy a true surprise that brought tears to the dancing divas ever so expressive eyes.
Padma Vibhushan Dr Sonal Mansingh is a revered name in the world of Indian cultural milieu. A living legend of the classical arts in our country, she has dedicated her life to classical dances has striven to bring tangible results in the lives of people across a wide-cross section of the society and awakening pride for Indian values and heritage. This she has achieved through performances, motivational lectures, inter-active sessions, seminars, Kathas, lecture-demonstrations, writings etc. using the medium of art to propagate the many faceted ‘Indianness’ for over five decades.
To celebrate Sonal Maa’s 75th birthday and 42nd foundation day of Centre for Indian Classical Dances (CIDC) i.e. Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth a beautiful event of dance and music was organised at Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi and let me tell you the Programme was as expected turned out to be a landmark in the Kalayatra journey of this unique Gurukul.
This evening of dance and music saw the presence of known people such as was Shri K.J. Alphons, Hon’ble Minister of State (IC)- Tourism, Shri Ram Bahadur Rai, President, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Shri A. Suryaprakash, Chairman, Prasar Bharti, Bharatnatyam Dance expert Prathibha Prahlad, Art promoter Alka Raghuvanshi, Kathak Exponent Saswati Sen, Minister Amar Singh, Rana Sharma from Maa Kamakhya temple and many more. The event began with Mangalacharan (The Auspicious Beginning) with Shankhanaad and Kalapeeth Strotam followed by ‘Jivan Ratna Sanmaan’ to Pt. Birju Maharaj, Legendary Kathak Maestro. It was amazing to hear Maharaj ji speak of the journey Sonal Maa and he have had together for so many years.
The talented students at CICD and their team Yoga presented the Ganesh yoga which was incorporated in the composition through dance and yog. Ganesh Yoga is invocation to Lord Ganesha who is worshipped first among all Divine Beings. Ganesha is also called Nritya Vinayaka (chief among dancers), Vighna-Vinayaka (remover of obstacles) and Siddhi Vinayaka (granting excellence in work and knowledge). Evoking him through dance and yoda was the ideal start.
Followed with Shiva Tandav, the hymn i.e. Stotra (in Sanskrit) composed by Ravan is a unique composition. As a Shiva-Bhakti, Ravan sang this to please his Ishta-deva, Shiv. The Tandava Ang of Odissi is used to match the virility and power of imagery.
What followed was an experience to take back home. Shri Devi Mahatmaya: Devi-SHAKTI is responsible for Creation, Cosmic Existence and Liberation, therefore the three attributes of the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are inherent in Her alone. This choreography was designed to reflect many dimensions of worldly experiences woven into episodes depicting the NAVARASA (the nine major moods). Devi is seen and experienced as Empowerment personified and was shown and depicted through episodes from Devi Bhagvat Mahapuran various stories, the original text in Sanskrit, Narration, Direction, Choreography & Music were ofcourse by the scholar herself Sonal Maa.
The Shringaar Ras: Love and beauty were seen when Parvati married Shiva.
The Veera Ras: As Devi destroyed Evil in the form of Asuras Shumbh-Nishumbh & finally Mahishasura.
The Karuna Ras: Pathos and sadness of devotees undergoing terrible problems and obstacles are resolved with Devi's compassion.
The Hasya Ras: The Shiva-ganas try comic tricks to relieve Parvati's loneliness in Shiva's absence and succeed in making her laugh.
The Adbhuta Ras: Parvati creates a charming child from her body particles and breathes life into it. Child comes alive as Vinayak. This was the time when Sonal Maa danced and the moments froze everyone in the jam packed auditorium watched with their jaws dropped as she moved with utmost grace making us transcend from the Kamani auditorium to Kailesh Parvat where Pravati came alive and showed us how Vinayak was born. I could not stop myself from making a video of it and posting it on social media immediately.
The Roudra Ras: Devi as Sati is furious at her father King Daksha's insult to husband Shiva.
The Bhaya Ras: Alone in the forest Parvati hears the jungle sound of beasts and is afraid.
The Bibhatsa Ras: Shiva's third eye burning up Kamadeva makes Parvati experience dislike for that unnecessary act.
The Shanta Ras: Surrendering at the Lotus feet of Devi one attains Sublimation.
Each act was so meaningful and depicted perfectly by Sonal maa and her team consisting of Ramesh, Arjun, Jahnabi, Vibhoo, Nandini, Raj, Anurag, Musicians Bankim Sethi, Prabhat Dangi, Lights by Milind, Shri Kamakhya Kalapeeth Stotra by Dr. Rishi Raj Pathak, compered by Sadhna Shrivastav
Well if you think the show ended with this then you are mistaken, don’t forget it was Sonal Mansingh’s 75th Celebration where she was in for a surprise. Simran Raina coordinated and made a film with messages from fans and well wishers from all over the world. American, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia all were shouting Happy Birthday, long life, god bless and all the goodness kept pouring in one after another and the diva could not control her emotions, that was not the end the students of CIDC showered flowers on their Guru, offered gifts and took blessing. One would normally think because Sonal Maa is Indian classical dancer the celebration would have ended in a traditional note but all were in for a bigger surprise and a huge chocolate cake came on stage and Happy birthday song echoed in Kamani. Now this is what is makes Sonal Maa unique and special. She is the true example of a power women who is Indian at heart but global in spirit.
The writer is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with two National Excellence awards and one National Achievement Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on sandip firstname.lastname@example.org