Chennai, Feb 28: A casual glance at the audience showed moist eyes, choked voices, and a busy applause. Narada Gana Sabha staged a theatrical performance by a group of disabled members of Ramana Sunritya Aalaya(RASA), an organization that focuses on the holistic development of each individual through experiences of music, dance, drama, story telling, arts and crafts. This structured methodology is called Theatre for Holistic Development (THD), and was developed by Rasa’s Founder-Director, Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. To celebrate the 30th year of their foundation, RASA staged a two hour long performance, called ‘Arulin Mozhi- The Voice of Grace’, performed entirely by the disabled participants.
Rekha Ramachandran, co-director and founder of Down Syndrome Federation of India said, “It is an honour to cross this journey along with RASA for 30 years. Initially, the press was not interested in our works. But now slowly but surely we are gaining recognition. This is a family which has faced a lot of storm, and now it is time to showcase the talent of these people.”
The performance was divided into four acts. The first act narrated the story of a hunter, who chases a bear and injures it eventually. The bear takes shelter in the hermit of a sage, where the hunter goes and demands his prey to be handed over to him. The hunter pleads that killing the bear is the only way he can provide food for his family, leaving the sage is a confusion. Eventually the sage chooses to spare the bear’s life. The second act was that of Ramayana, where sage Viswamitra takes young Ram and Laxman along with him on a journey. The third act dealt with the Jallianwala Bagh incident and the stories of Narasimha completed the last act. The four acts, though telling different stories harped on a common objective.- the main crux of Arulin Mozhi, which says that there will be a point in life when everyone have to choose one of the two options available, and that one should listen to his or her inner voice while taking that decision.
The performances were spontaneous, competent and free flowing. Babli Ramachandran who was born with down syndrome ended the show with a spectacular dance performance. It gave a stage for the disabled people to showcase their talent and send a message to the society. Kanriappam, father of one of the performers named Selva Kumar, said, “It is an immensely proud moment for me to see my son performing on stage. Even today, whenever he goes out, people look at him in a different way. It hurts me to see my son being treated like that. He and others like him are very much normal like us. I hope this theatre gives him a scope to make others understand his value and potential.”
Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, the brain behind RASA and Arulin Mozhi hails the success as a result of a collective effort. “Everyone involved has given their blood and soul for this. All this has happened because of the love and support we receive and by God’s grace. We hope to continue this beautiful journey, with more shows like this.”
To commemorate their 30th anniversary, RASA unveiled their new logo named Ekatva.