When devotion was at its best - ISKCON PUNE

When devotion was at its best

A spectacular dance-drama series, based on the Ramayana, was presented by the Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai, at the ISKCON recently.

Ideal Pair: Sita and Rama in Panchavati. The series brought to life some of the greatest episodes of the Ramayana.
The three-day series, held from November 26 to 28, was a part of Sri Krishna Shringar, an annual festival of dance-drama, organised by ISKCON. Choreographed by the legendary artiste Rukmini Devi Arundale, the magnificent ballet started with Sabari Moksham, the fourth of Rukmini Devi’s six part Ramayanam series.

The dance-drama began with Surpanakha being attracted to Rama after seeing him in Panchavati. When she tries to harm Sita, Laxmana disfigures her face by cutting her nose and ears. Later, Ravana sends Maricha, a demon, who takes the form of a golden deer to entice Rama away from the ashram and abducts Sita in the absence of Rama and Laxmana.

The artistes of Kalakshetra Foundation gave an unparalleled performance and Jatayu’s character, especially, was presented very well. The audience couldn’t hold back their tears when Ravana cuts Jatayu’s wings off when the bird tries to save Sita from him.

The first day culminated with Sabari attaining moksha from Lord Rama. “Ramayana is a timeless story. You may hear it thousand times but its glory and splendour never fades. Through this dance-drama, I got to experience these great moments of divinity once again. I am really moved by the way these young artistes have presented the story,” said Sadhanand Sharma, a devotee.

The second day featured Choodamani Pradanam, composed by S Rajaram. In this episode, the audience mourned while watching Sita suffer at Ashoka Vatika and whole-heartedly cheered Hanuman as he set fire to the city of Lanka. “Though I knew nothing will happen to Hanuman, I was anxious to see him return safely to Rama. I liked Ravana’s performance very much. The artiste is really awesome,” said Manoj Hebbar, a member of the audience.

Touching: A scene from Sabari Moksham. The final day showcased the Maha Pattabhishekam of Lord Rama. The dance-drama began with Vibhishana joining the army of Rama and the monkeys and building the bridge to cross the sea to reach Lanka. When Rama mourned on seeing an unconscious Laxmana, the audience too joined him. Later, as Hanuman fetched the Sanjeevini herb to bring Laxmana back to life, the audience swooned with delight on seeing the love between Rama and Laxmana. The same thing happened during the scene when Rama rejects Sita and accepts her only after her chastity is proved.

The stage was decorated in a grand manner for the ‘pattabhisheka’ and with this, the dance-drama came to an end. After the performance, Chanchalapathi Dasa, the vice chairman of ISKCON, felicitated the artistes on behalf of ISKCON.

“I was very impressed by Sri Nath, who played the character of Laxmana. He had such an innocent look on his face. I am already looking forward to the next year’s Sri Krishna Shringar, to experience yet another mind-blowing devotional dance-drama,” said Anjali, an audience member.
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