By Sithara Nambiar and Aalap Patel
NASHUA, NH–The India Association of New Hampshire held their annual Vasant Utsav Competitions last month. As always, it was hosted at Nashua High School North and filled with enthusiasts and parents of outstanding artists. (Photos courtesy: IANH Facebook)
The two-day event was not only a cultural program for families to enjoy but also a celebration of the arts, where a wide range of participants in the community were given the opportunity to showcase their talents through the music, dance, and drawing competitions.
The two-day event commenced with the singing and music competitions on Saturday, hosted by Srivatsan Senthilkumar as Master of Ceremonies, where several talented singers and musicians enlivened the auditorium with their exceptional performances.
The singing event was divided into two genres: Carnatic and Hindustani, and both categories were judged by renowned singers of the area, Vidya Raman and Harish Narayanan for Carnatic, and Ujjwal Parikh and Vaishnavi Kondapalli, for Hindustani.
The judges were impressed by the high level of expertise that young participants have mastered in the traditional art of Indian classical singing. Aside from the singing competition, musicians captivated the audience with a few melodic renditions of Western and folk song as well as solo instrumental pieces. Even though each performance was brilliant and arguably equally deserving, the judges awarded the winning medals to those who shone above the rest at the event.
The performances are accredited to the inspiring music teachers of the community, including Aparna Balaji, Sandhya Sridhar, Usha Dwarak, Shuchita Rao, and Jyoti Sharma, whose endless support and motivation have helped students pursue their talent. Held alongside the music competitions on Saturday, was the drawing competition, where a variety of unique and wonderful paintings were displayed and judged by Sunanda Sahay and Nitya Dhakar.
Vasant Utsav continued with the dance competitions the next day, led by Masters of Ceremonies Chandana Karthik and Anjana Mangala at the helm of guiding a vast number of performances through a single day. Having over 36 items, consisting of solo and group dances in Classical, Folk, and Bollywood forms, necessitated two sets of judges during the day.
The Bharatanatyam (Classical) dance judges were Sangita Raghunath, Deepa Srinath, and Lakshmi Raj, who had the daunting task of choosing the winners from an exceptional showcase of talent in this dance form. As for the non-Classical dance performances, the judges were Shikha Bajpai, Swathi Subramanian, and Sheetal Kelkar who also, after much deliberation, managed to select the winning performances based on their personal expertise and knowledge of Bollywood dance. Although it goes without saying that all the dances were exceptional and very well presented and choreographed, the winning performances were choreographed by local dance teachers Sujatha Meyyappan, Sunanda Narayanan, Himanshi Patel, Shravani Balaji, Ananya Venkatesan, Jasmine Shah, Mona Mitra, Deepa Jacob, Meena Unni, and Nikita Rao.
With a turnout of about 700 people combined for both days, Vasant Utsav 2016 was clearly a success! It not only serves as a platform for local talent, where parents can proudly watch their children perform with such enthusiasm and dedication, but it also aims to provide an experience of Indian culture that members of the Indian-American society may enjoy. It is undoubtedly important to also recognize the “behind the scenes” people, better known as the teachers and choreographers of the community, whose dedication to the arts have helped encourage their students. IANH Cultural Team would also like to thank the judges, supporting families, the youth group volunteers, as well as Ambika Mangtani, John Franzini and Nashua High North Administrators for all their help. Participants are encouraged every year to perform and the time and effort spent in preparation for the competitions is greatly appreciated.