The auditorium at Santa Clara Convention Center was filled to capacity on Saturday as people from the Indian community gathered for the non-profit All India Movement for Seva’s (AIMS) annual Donor Appreciation Event, titled Anubhava: An Experience of the Senses. A dance and music performance featuring Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Vijayakumar, violinist Dr. Ambi Subramaniam, and percussionist Dr. Rohan Krishnamurthy, the performance was part of a US tour to raise funds for the non-profit with Saturday’s event coordinated by the San Francisco chapter.
AIMS was started by Swami Dayananda Saraswati (Swamiji) to bring value-based education and quality health care to the children of impoverished rural India. A video segment that played said that out of 1.4 billion people in India, 900 million live in villages, and those are the people that go unnoticed. Vijay Kapoor, one of the San Francisco chapter’s coordinators said that Seva, and sustained giving, is an important thing that is part of their mission, “to take children whose lives are wasted in villages, and take them under our wings until they are fully functional in life.”
The first half of the show opened with students from the Geetanjali School of Music singing Swamiji’s composition “Maha Ganapathim” in ragaam Tilang. After a speech from Kapoor, the artists took the stage with Vijayakumar performing her first piece on a mother trying to explain to her child the of significance of Devi, the female goddess. The second piece performed was Chinnanchiru Kiliye, a composition of Subramania Bharati in the raagam Kaapi. Vijayakumar choreographed and interpreted the song as how a mother sees a child growing up, establishing a connection that does not fade. A musical solo between Subramaniam and Krishnamurthy interpreting the same concept of Devi followed, preceding the final set piece, the Swarabindu Tillana, composed by Subramaniam.
Between the first and second half of the performances, Srini Raman, COO of AIMS USA, and volunteer Ram Mandalam came on stage, informing the audience that 9000 children across 16 states in India were being educated by AIMS. “The Bay Area has a modest goal of raising funds for 400 children,” said Raman. Three hundred children were sponsored already through prior donations, but 100 more needed sponsorship said Mandalam. Both Raman and Mandalam looked to the audience to sponsor the remaining 100 children. Five individuals came forward, each donating $10,000 to sponsor 20 children each. More donors came forward putting the Bay Area chapter over the 400 sponsorship mark.
The evening ended with the second half of the show being an interactive experience where the audience had pre-requested themes, raagams and other aspects of dance for the three artists to create a piece spontaneously. A large poster board with brightly colored sticky notes was placed on the stage where the artists had to choose the theme, raagam and other compositional elements. The three pieces spontaneously performed were a depiction of a flower blooming using the raagam kalayni, the sound and movements of a deer, which Krishnamurthy replicated using a kanjira, and lastly the ever favorite Dhanashree Thillana, but with the added element of Vijayakumar portraying a peacock.