Manesh Maharaj
Picture: Supplied
Manesh Maharaj Picture: Supplied

Preserving the art of Kathak

By Latoya Newman Time of article published Feb 29, 2020

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LIFESTYLE - A KATHAK dance festival aimed primarily at preserving and advancing the art form was held recently in Durban.

The Kala Darshan Institute of Classical Music and Dance, in association with the Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH) and the Arya Yuvak Sabha, will host the Kathak Mahotsav Festival presented the event at the Pattundeen Theatre at the ABH in Chatsworth.

Kathak is a classical dance form with its origins in the temples of North India.

Manesh Maharaj, the festival’s director, said the event strove to inspire students and artists to embrace unity and camaraderie and to preserve the sanctity and authenticity of Kathak.

“Aside from Kathak being an integral part of Indian culture and identity, it is a potent medium to help steer the student towards a spiritual path and guide them towards a righteous lifestyle. Kathak as an Indian classical dance style is a form of worship and is steeped in divinity. It helps the dancer realise the self and, ultimately, God.

“In Hinduism it is regarded as one of the many paths to attain moksha or salvation. Audiences experiencing a Kathak performance come for spiritual enlightenment through this sacred art form as the Kathak dancer becomes the medium between the material and the spiritual.

“The audience leaves the theatre feeling elevated and spiritually healed. This directly impacts on one’s lifestyle within society as one aspires to adopt a spiritual path (through peace, harmony, unity and love) and aims to steer away from negative voices.”

Maharaj, a performer and teacher of the art, said the younger generation were showing a keen interest in studying Kathak.

“This is supported and encouraged by their parents and families. It is due to festivals like Kathak Mahotsav that young students are inspired to work harder to become proficient someday, and it is the responsibility of teachers and performers to be productive by creating platforms and affording spaces to talented, hard-working students,” said Maharaj.

“Kathak has a bright future in South Africa as long as we keep the interest alive by preserving it through teaching and performances.”

The artists performing at the festival included Kranthi Singh, Kirti Ravjee, Shika Harrypaul and Maharaj.

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