Drive East 2017 — Indian Classical Dance & Music Festival in NYC — Aug 21-27

A gathering of Indian storytellers share perspectives through diverse forms of Indian Classical Dance and Music: 50+ artists from all over the world come together to New York City for Drive East 2017

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August 8, 2017: New York, NY: This August will see its fifth Drive East festival in Manhattan, from August 21 – 27, 2017. Promising to have an even more impactful and immersive experience this year, Navatman sets off its week long Indian performing arts festival at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side. While usually at LaMama, the intimacy of Dixon Place serves to accentuate a sense of inclusiveness and immersiveness as soon as you enter the space, making it an ideal venue for the to view and experience all the nuances of Indian classical dance and music. From widely acclaimed stalwarts to lesser known gems, Navatman bring NYC 20+ concerts in Indian classical dance and music.

“This year, Drive East’s curation has been a little more nuanced. For instance, our four bharatanatyam performers each come from vastly different styles, allowing the patron to understand some of the more delicate nuances of the form. On the other hand, every kathak performance features guest and collaborative artists – such as Jin Won working with Korean Drums, and Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of Leela Dance collective working with tap. Some nights are intended to give you a more traditional feel, like the solos on Tuesday evening, and others are intended on showing the more unique aspects of Indian dance and music such as Saturday night’s artists Rajasthani Caravan, Devdutta Sengupta, and Battery Dance Company. – Sahasra Sambamoorthi, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

In addition to the 20+ concerts, there are a slew of smaller events: rangoli designs that are planned to adorn the festival steps, official artist meet and greets post each performance, free storytelling sessions on Hindu mythology for families, and advanced intensives for adults in the mornings. Each day brings more than just the concert, but an immersive experience that takes you through every performance.

“We are excited to move to a space that really allows a lot of intimacy between the performer and the viewer. Every year, we’d get feedback that people really loved seeing the shows where the performers were no more than an arm’s length away, so we took that to heart when we decided to move to Dixon Place this year.” – Sridhar Shanmugam, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

Some of the exciting dance events this year include: the beautiful and brilliant Odissi danseuse Sujata Mohapatra who will be performing on opening night; co-founders Sridhar Shanmugam & Sahasra Sambamoorthi will be performing on stage together, Renjith & Vijna form a husband and wife duet team from Chennai, and Prince of Dance – a power-packed evening of full length concerts by male dancers that includes Christopher Gurusamy (Bharatanatyam) & Avijit Das (Kuchipudi).

This year brings an interesting mix of collaborating Indian styles with other traditional forms. We have 3 Kathak performances but each performance highlights a different aspect and commonality with another style. We have Kathak being set to Korean drums (Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park), and Kathak being juxtaposed with tap dance (Leela Dance Collective). In addition, we have rarer art forms like Manipuri (Devdutta Sengupta) gracing the stage this year.

Music brings us the eminent sarod player Aashish Khan, who will be opening the festival, and the melodious and lyrical music of sitarist Kinnar Seen. Carnatic music can be rarer to find in Manhattan, but Drive East has two soloists Shankar Ramani and Ananya Ashok, not to mention the firebrand Navatman Music Collective, one of the only carnatic choirs in the world. The brilliant Rajasthani Caravan troupe joins us from India, bringing with them unique the sights and sounds of folk music and dance.

A new addition to the festival, Navatman will also host Saturday Youth Day concerts. Youth concerts allow exceptional up and coming students trained by stalwart gurus a place in the festival as well, such as  Guitar Prasanna’s students who perform Carnatic music on electric guitars.

About Navatman:

Navatman, Inc was founded with an eye on creating a sustainable home for the South Asian arts in New York City and its surrounding neighborhoods, particularly emphasizing Indian classical music and dance. We are a game-changing organization dedicated to creating ground-breaking work in the South Asian classical performing arts in the areas of education, performance, and production. We are best known for our Manhattan-based classes, critically acclaimed productions, dynamic dance company, and stellar carnatic choir, all of which have received reviews in mainstream press including the New York Times, India Abroad, The Hindu, the Financial Times, and The Star-Ledger, to name a few. Navatman continues to see success in their goal to preserve Indian classical music and dance through democratizing these art forms by increasing their accessibility, and innovating on pre-existing business and organizational models to stay relevant, fresh and exciting.

Concert Line Up:

Monday, August 21st:

  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Aashish Khan – Sarode Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Sujata Mohapatra – Odissi Recital

Tuesday, August 22nd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Indrani Khare: Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Kinnar Seen – Sitar Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Janaki Rangarajan – Bharatanatyam Recital

Wednesday, August 23rd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park – Kathak Meets Korean Arts
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Navatman Dance, Feat. Sridhar Shanmugam – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Shankar Ramani – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Thursday, August 24th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Pranamya Suri – Kuchipudi Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Apoorva Jayaraman – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Ananya Ashok – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Friday, August 25th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Prince of Dance: Christopher Gurusamy – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Prince of Dance: Avijit Das – Kuchipudi Recital

Saturday, August 26th:

  • 2:30PM – 3:30PM Youth Concert Day: Shankhadip Chakraborty – Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Youth Concert Day: Carnatic Power – Carnatic Guitar Recital
  • 6PM – 7PM Rare Arts of India: Devdutta Sengupta Ghosh – Manipuri Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Battery Dance Company – The Durga Project featuring Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju,  sponsored by State bank of India
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Rajasthani Caravan – Rajasthani Folk Music & Dance Recital

Sunday, August 27th:

  • 2:00PM – 3:30PM Navatman Music Collective – Carnatic Choir Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of the Leela Dance Collective with guest artist Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards – Kathak Recital
  • 4PM – 5PM Renjith & Vijna – Bharatanatyam Duet Recital

Educational Events:

  • August 21 – August 25: 5PM – 5:30PM – Free storytelling sessions on Indian mythology for children
  • August 26: 12:30PM – 2:30PM – Saturday Youth Day

You may also be interested in checking out Garamchai.com ‘s Art and Culture section with extensive listings of Indian Dance and Music academies around North America

2017 Self-Realization Fellowship World Convocation August 6-12

The Kriya Yoga Teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda

LOS ANGELES— Several thousand Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) members and friends from 51 states and 41 other countries will convene at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, August 6-12 for the 2017 SRF World Convocation. The annual event is a weeklong immersion in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda—widely regarded as the father of Yoga in the West, author of the celebrated spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship. Yogananda established SRF in 1920 to disseminate his teachings on the ancient science and philosophy of Kriya Yoga, and its sacred tradition of meditation.

The SRF Convocation provides a unique opportunity for spiritual communion and practical instruction for attendees hailing from New Zealand to Nepal to Botswana to Peru. The program includes group meditations, “How-to-Live” classes based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, kirtans (devotional chanting), fellowship, and spiritual counsel from SRF monastics.

The teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda have inspired many through the years to approach life with a sense of calm and peace, helping them to achieve their goals – personally, professionally, and spiritually. At the heart of the SRF teachings is the science of Kriya Yoga, which includes a sacred technique of meditation that serves to quiet both body and mind, making it possible to withdraw one’s energy and attention from the usual turbulence of thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions. In the clarity of that inner stillness, one comes to experience a deepening interior peace and attunement with one’s true self.

Among the evening talks that will be presented by SRF monks and nuns at this year’s Convocation are:

“Transforming Your Life by the Power of Consciousness and Positive Thought”
“Make Your Meditations Come Alive”
“Cultivating the Power of a Devotional Heart”
“Calmness: Spiritual Strategy for Overcoming Life’s Tests”
“Prayer: Embracing Our World With Compassion and Understanding”

While some of the program activities are open only to students of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons, the evening talks are available to the public ($35 per class).

Attendees who have traveled from outside of the local region to attend Convocation are given the opportunity to participate in pilgrimage tours to several of the temples and sanctuaries established by Yogananda in Southern California, including the Encinitas Retreat and Hermitage, where Yogananda wrote most of his spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi.

For more information about the 2017 SRF World Convocation in Los Angeles, please visit Yogananda-SRF.org and “Highlights from Past Convocations”
or call Self-Realization Fellowship’s headquarters in Los Angeles at (323) 225-2471.

Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is the international nonprofit spiritual organization founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda to introduce to people of all races, cultures, and creeds the ancient science and philosophy of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. Through its spiritual and humanitarian service, the society seeks to foster greater harmony and goodwill among the diverse peoples and nations of the world, and a deeper understanding of the underlying unity of all religions. Together with its sister organization Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), SRF has grown to include 800 temples, retreats and meditation centers throughout the world.

Paramahansa Yogananda first arrived in America in 1920 from his native India, the invited delegate at an International Congress of Religious Liberals convening in Boston, Massachusetts, where he delivered a speech on the science of religion. It marked the beginnings of his profound impact on Western spiritual seekers and of the growing recognition of his role as the father of yoga in the West. Five years later, a transcontinental speaking tour brought him to Los Angeles, where he established the headquarters for his worldwide spiritual and humanitarian work atop Mount Washington. Interest in his teachings has grown steadily over the years, with readers of his numerous books (including the best-selling classic Autobiography of a Yogi) numbering in the millions. The highly acclaimed documentary, AWAKE: The life of Yogananda, was released in 2014.

You may also be interested in GaramChai.com Yoga Section

Swastika symbol and Hindu culture

Here is a recent query from a visitor to GaramChai.com 

I have a glass beaded necklace . I’m told it could be Hindu but what throws me off is the swaski. I ‘m also told that it was made long before Hitler. What are your thought on it. It has a beautiful peacock on it. – Patricia D. 

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Response from our editor follows

Hi Patricia,
Thanks for checking in.

Yes, this is likely to be a Hindu necklace with the swastika symbol. The symbol is widely used in Hindu culture. Check out the following link to Wikipedia

The swastika (as a character 卐 or 卍) is an ancient religious symbol used in the Indian subcontinent, East Asia and Southeast Asia. It is also an icon widely found in human history and the modern world.

The swastika is an important Hindu symbol. The word is ancient, derived from three Sanskrit roots “su” (good), “asti” (exists, there is, to be) and “ka” (make) and has meant a “making of goodness” or “marker of goodness”. The icon connotes and reminds the viewer of something “conducive to well-being”, “make good”, prosperity and dharmic auspiciousness. The swastika symbol is commonly used before entrances or on doorways of homes or temples, to mark the starting page of financial statements, and mandala constructed for rituals such as weddings or welcoming a new born.

Here is a funny anecdote. We live in North Carolina and after we moved into a new house, my wife decided to mark the good-luck-swastika symbol on our front-door. Our Caucasian neighbor was alarmed and asked my wife if ‘kids‘ from the neighborhood had market the door (?!). She was genuinely concerned about a possible racial angle to this. We explained the significance of Swastika to her and had a good laugh about it.

The peacock also has a strong Indian significance and happens to be the national bird of India. (link). The image of necklace you have shared certainly looks likely to be of Indian origin. Enjoy the necklace and check out the Wikipedia post for more details about the symbol’s significance in the Hindu culture.

Regards

GaramChai.com Editor

 

Many faces of Indian Spirituality

The Week magazine published in India recently published a cover page series on the many faces of ‘Indian’ Spirituality. A brief summary of the interesting articles that covers the entire gamut of modern spirituality and interviews with some Gurus:

India would lead the world spiritually – Swami Suvirananda was chosen as general secretary of Ramakrishna Mission and Belur Math in May. An educationist, Suvirananda worked in Arunachal Pradesh for 17 years, and taught in Ramakrishna Mission schools in Kolkata. Union Minister Kirren Rijiju, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Jangipur MP Abhijit Mukherjee were his students. In an interview with THE WEEK, Suvirananda talks about the relevance of the Ramakrishna Mission today.

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The Week – Spiritual trance: Heartfulness meditation trainer and renowned DJ Pierre Ravan.

Science of yoga does not demand any kind of belief system or philosophy: Sadhguru  – In spite of all its problems and contradictions, if the world is looking to a rapidly resurgent India today and an India that is about to join the ranks of developed nations, the silent and subtle contribution of the rich spiritual process inherent in the land and its people is undeniable. Though obscured by hundreds of years of foreign occupation and distorted by the aggressors, the relative peace, contentment, and harmony of the Indian people and the society are clearly the fruits of the carefully crafted spiritual process.

Mystic catcher of souls – Recently, in a television conversation, filmmaker Karan Johar asked Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev if there should be a limit to one’s love and emotions. “Love is a certain quality, not quantity,” the Sadhguru replied. “Love is not something that will get over. The more you experience it, the more it is available to you.” This is true of the Isha Yoga Centre, the Sadhguru’s ashram, as well: the more you experience it, the more it is available to you. Located on the foothills of Velliangiri Hills, on the outskirts of Coimbatore, the Isha Yoga Centre has dedicated itself to the well-being of the individual and the world.

Easterly wind bloweth – The nature of spirituality is undergoing a radical shift in the United States, with the temples furthering social change. On March 19 this year, Shaanti Bhavan Mandir in New York became the first Hindu temple to join the National Sanctuary Movement—a coalition of places of worship for sheltering undocumented immigrants. The temple was founded in 2013, by Indo-Caribbeans hailing from Guyana and Trinidad. “A mandir is not just a place we come to pray,” said temple leader Pandit Manoj Jadubans to the devotees. “We can give them shelter, a place where they feel secure.”

Old monk, new companion – The Ramakrishna Mission hopes to take its message of universal brotherhood to the Middle East – On August 14, 1897, three months after establishing the Ramakrishna Mission at Belur near Calcutta, Swami Vivekananda was travelling in a train with freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had first met Tilak on a Pune-bound train in 1892. The following year, he addressed the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. After he returned from America, Vivekananda was in touch with Tilak and other freedom fighters. So when they met again, Tilak asked him when and how India would achieve freedom. “India would attain freedom 50 years from now,” said Vivekananda. “But no one would believe how it would come. It would come surprisingly and suddenly.”

Peace in poise – The Sivananda Yoga Centre is a partner of Toronto school board – The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre at 77 Harbord Street in Toronto has been teaching people to “spread peace, health and joy through yoga”. Noahora Sierra, 57, who is from Colombia and has settled in Canada, has been doing yoga asanas five days a week and meditation twice a week since 2012, and it has made a world of difference for her. Doing yoga gives her a positive feeling, said Sierra. She and her daughter are regular visitors at the centre, established in 1962.

Taking a look at our philosophies – A FEW YEARS ago, a relative of mine philosophically said, “At any point in life, there is always someone thinner than you, and someone richer.” I could not resist taking a dig: “I am surprised it took you so long to realise that.” Jokes apart, I have always felt that this ‘Who is thinner/richer/prettier?’ game is quite unproductive. Writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry sums it up in one line: “Grown-ups love figures.” I think he meant both figures—numbers and the human form. In The Little Prince, he writes: “When you tell [grown-ups] you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you ‘What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?’ Instead they demand, ‘How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?’”

Trikonasana in Trafalgar Square – Religious activities, community service and yoga go hand in hand for Hindus in the UK. Religion in the UK has become an intrinsic part of the Hindu identity, especially in the last few decades. It is perhaps a symbol of their migration pattern after World War II or during the expulsion by Idi Amin. With time, they have established temples of their faith in the UK, as well as many community organisations and umbrella bodies to represent their ideologies. But what was exclusive to the people from that particular faith before, is now available to the wider society—and Britain stands as one of the best examples of a successful multicultural country.

Ministry of Heartful Happiness – Meditation for health and well-being matters to the UAE government- On a warm May morning, as my taxi pulls up at the entrance of an elegant office building in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers business district, I know I’m at the right place. Small groups of Indians have just arrived and are greeting each other as they enter the building. Instead of rummaging through my handbag to find the address, I simply follow them into the elevator. I’m sure we are all heading to the same place. The elevator stops at the first floor and I follow them out, down a short corridor, and into a large hall. Within minutes, the cacophony of 300 people exchanging pleasantries dies down and everyone is seated with their eyes closed; the lights are switched off and the hall descends into pin-drop silence. This is how members of the Heartfulness Meditation Centre at the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation begin each morning; with an hour-long meditation session.

Individuals can be transformed through love and compassion: Mata Amritanandamayi – When you talk to the Americans, what is it that they like the most about you? Do they come to know more about India through you? Are they keen on visiting India or, may be, even settling here close to their ‘Amma’? Not just Americans, but all people in general are longing to experience true love. There is an inner thirst to find someone who will lend a compassionate ear, so that they can pour out their heart. I don’t speak any language other than my mother tongue, Malayalam. But through love there is perfect communication, no matter what language we speak.


Viewers of GaramChai.com are aware of the extensive listings of Religion and spirituality in North America including

Parbinder Kaur Shergill – Judge in Canada Supreme Court

Indian-origin Sikh woman first turbaned judge in Canada Supreme Court

Last week, Palbinder Kaur Shergill was appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, becoming the first turbaned judge in Canada.

She was born in Punjab, India, and immigrated to Canada with her family when she was four years old. She grew up in Williams Lake, B.C.

Image source: huffingtonpost.ca

Ms Shergill’s extended family in Jalandhar, India run a non-profit computer and stitching centre for the poor, reported The Indian Express.

Her appointment was announced along with two other judges by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, under the new judicial application process. The new process emphasises transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

Known as a prominent human rights lawyer in Canada, Shergill was instrumental in helping shape human rights and religious accommodation law in Canada through her pro bono work as General Legal Counsel for the World Sikh Organisation of Canada. “Prior to her appointment to the bench, Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill practised as a lawyer and mediator with her law firm, Shergill and Company, Trial Lawyers. She has extensive trial and appellate experience and has appeared before courts and tribunals across Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Shergill was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2012 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service,” said the introduction released by the minister.

In the media:

Indian Prime Minister Modi goes to Washington

Trump meets Modi: Indian Prime Minister to meet America leaders and President Trump. This is Mr. Modi’s first trip since Mr. Trump took charge.

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The agenda for the Prime Minister’s visit to USA (June 25-26, 2017) was published in Indian Embassy’s website:

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Washington DC on June 25-26, 2017, at the invitation of the President of the United States of America, The Honorable Donald J. Trump.

Prime Minister will hold official talks with President Trump on June 26. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders. Their discussions will provide a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership between India and the U.S.”

President Trump took to Twitter:

Modi Ji is equally excited on Twitter

Media reports include

Worldwide Education Fund of The Dallas Foundation Receives 2017 MDRT Foundation Worldwide Grant

Carrollton Native Kamal Daya and Worldwide Education Fund of The Dallas Foundation Receive $5,000 Grant from Million Dollar Round Table Foundation

Carrollton-native and New York Life insurance agent, Kamal N. Daya, CLU, ChFC, of Dallas, Texas secured a USD $5,000 grant from the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Foundation on behalf of The Worldwide Education Fund of The Dallas Foundation. This grant comes through MDRT’s Worldwide Grant Program. Through its global grants, the MDRT Foundation is committed to building stronger families and communities around the globe. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award nearly $1 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 100 charitable organizations worldwide.

Kamal Daya with a Group of Students in India

Daya, a 38-year MDRT member and the 2011 recipient of the Top Quality of Life Award from the MDRT, is the co-founder of WEF along with his wife, Connie.  Previously, India Education Fund of The Dallas Foundation, the organization has expanded over the last year into supporting projects in Pakistan, Tajikistan, and here in Dallas. The organization’s sole purpose remains to help improve the quality and scope of education for underprivileged and marginalized children in some of the poorest areas of the world. To achieve this goal, WEF focuses on five key initiatives: quality English language skills training, technology skills training, coaching and mentoring programs, empowering students to reach their maximum potential and educational and vocational scholarships. With the grant, WEF will expand its programmatic scope into three new programs, impacting over 500 kids and an additional 2000 kids in the years to come. For more information about WEF and its work, visit wef.world.

Beneficiraies of WEF project ( Advance English Course) in Tajikistan

About the MDRT Foundation:

The MDRT Foundation was created in 1959 to provide MDRT members with a means to give back to their communities. Since its inception, the Foundation has donated more than $30 million in more than 70 countries throughout the world and in all 50 U.S. states. These funds were raised by MDRT members and industry partners. For more information, visit mdrtfoundation.org.

About MDRT:

Founded in 1927, the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), The Premier Association of Financial Professionals®, is a global, independent association of more than 49,500 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 500 companies in 70 countries. MDRT members demonstrate exceptional professional knowledge, strict ethical conduct and outstanding client service. MDRT membership is recognized internationally as the standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services business.  For more information, visit mdrt.org.

About The Dallas Foundation:

The Dallas Foundation is the oldest community foundation in the state of Texas, and serves donors and nonprofit agencies through North Texas. The Foundation serves as a keystone – a link between donors and the community issues that the donors care about. For more information, please visit www.dallasfoundation.org.