A song and dance about Kerala

UTSAV 2018 by the Organization of Hindu Malayalees saw yet another celebration of a close-knit Malayalee community

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When people from God’s own country celebrate, the sound of music and the vibe of dance resonate throughout the cosmos. And so it happened in March, when the Organization of Hindu Malayalees (OHM) celebrated their annual cultural event, UTSAV 2018, in the auditorium of Acacia Ridge State School.

Aigiri Sthothram

Through OHM, a non-profit organisation based in Brisbane, Hindu Malayalees in Queensland have found opportunities to build friendships with other communities, exchange ideas, and celebrate their values and heritage. Every year, at the annual cultural event, members celebrate dance forms and recognise the academic achievements of students.

The cultural show was started by an invocation to Lord Ganesha titled ‘Narthana Ganapathi’ performed with sublime fluidity, setting the tone for the evening. The curtain-raiser was followed by ‘Pushpanjali’, presented by young performers decked in green, white and orange – the spirit unmistakably nationalistic.

Telling Krishna’s story

To the delight of the audience, this year, Indian cine star and classical dancer Krishna Prabha also made an appearance with two dance performances. ‘Siva Thandava Sthotram’ was a powerful performance presented by youngsters in symbolic red, white and black robes. The traditional tale of Mahishasura, the shape shifting demon who terrorised people according to folklore and was ultimately destroyed by Durga, was beautifully portrayed too.

Krishna’s second performance was equally scintillating, and also led to the finale of the evening, a dance that told the tale of Krishna, who as emcee Gargi Unnikrishnan described aptly, was a terrible prankster and an irresistible charmer.

The dancers traced his life story, right from the prophecy that warned the evil king Kamsa who was Krishna’s maternal uncle, to the imprisonment of Devaki and Vasudeva, to the birth of Krishna and his miraculous exchange with Yashoda’s daughter and his childhood in Gokul.

The scenes gradually transformed to the battlefield of Kurukshetra where Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna and advises him about his duty towards his karma. The gospel of Krishna forms the main narrative of the Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’.

After the grand performance, Year 12 finishers Siddharth, Adhithya and Ankesh received awards for completing their academic year with honours. A delicious dinner followed before it was time again to continue the celebrations as Australian Hub of Indian Music (AHIM) belted out memorable music from Bollywood and other classic Malayalam hits.

Eventually, the evening drew to a close and the music faded out, but one thing was easy to tell: hearts were full of joy and spirits were high. One couldn’t help but remember what Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”.