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Celebrating tradition and talent: The 26th Vasantotsava 2024
- Ritu Sengar
Photos: Sanjit Debroy

February 8, 2024

Pt. Birju Maharaj's Kalashram once again mesmerized audiences with the 26th edition of Vasantotsava, held on the 3rd and 4th of February 2024 at the Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi. This two-day extravaganza showcased the seamless blend of talent from both seasoned maestros and budding artistes, presenting a captivating mosaic of Kathak dance and Indian classical music.

Ustad Zakir Hussain receives award from Sonal Mansingh
Ustad Zakir Hussain receives award from Sonal Mansingh

The highlight of the event was the presence of tabla virtuoso, Ustad Zakir Hussain, who graced the occasion as the chief guest. In a momentous gesture, Hussain was honored with the inaugural Birju Maharaj Samman by Dr.Sonal Mansingh, recognizing his invaluable contributions to the world of music. His mesmerizing tabla vadhan, accompanied by the soul-stirring strains of sarangi played by Murad Ali Khan, paid a poignant tribute to the legendary Pt. Birju Maharaj.

Rachna Sarang's group
"Bhari bhari" - Rachna Sarang's group

Shovana Narayan's group
"Ithlati" - Shovana Narayan's group

Vaswati Mishra's group
"Brutuki" - Vaswati Mishra's group

Mamta Maharaj's group
"Thunga thunga" - Mamta Maharaj's group

The inaugural day commenced with a silent tribute by Swaransh Mishra, Ragini and Yashaswani Maharaj, the grandchildren of Pt. Birju Maharaj. This solemn moment paved the way for a series of enchanting performances, featuring compositions from the music album 'Mann Bheetar.' Choreographed by luminaries such as Rachna Sarang, Shovana Narayan, Vaswati Mishra, Mamta Maharaj, Shinjini Kulkarni, Sujata Banerjee, and Maitreyee Pahari, the evening unfolded with seven mesmerizing compositions, each a testament to the depth and richness of Kathak tradition.

Shinjini Kulkarni's group
"Mann bheetar" - Shinjini Kulkarni's group

Sujata Banerjee's group
"Thum sang" - Sujata Banerjee's group

Baji re bansi
"Baji re bansi"

The second day of Vasantotsava was divided into two captivating segments: Kathak Adhyay and Kathak Pravah. Kathak Adhyay showcased spellbinding performances by artistes including Richa Jain, Kajal Sharma, Sushant Gaurav, and Durga Arya-Kruger, captivating audiences with their graceful movements and intricate footwork. Meanwhile, Kathak Pravah celebrated the regional diversity of Kathak, with performances representing the rich cultural tapestries of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bengal, and Delhi. The event culminated with spectacular choreographies by eminent artistes such as Jaikishan Maharaj and Deepak Maharaj, the sons of Pt. Birju Maharaj.

In its true essence, the 26th Vasantotsava was a celebration of Kathak's timeless legacy and the enduring spirit of Pt. Birju Maharaj. It evoked a myriad of emotions, from tears of nostalgia to laughter filled moments, leaving an indelible mark on all who attended. As the curtains closed on yet another unforgettable chapter, audiences were left with cherished memories and a renewed appreciation for the beauty and splendour of Indian classical arts.

In conclusion, the 26th Vasantotsava served as a beacon of tradition and talent, showcasing the brilliance of Kathak dance and Indian classical music. It was a testament to the enduring legacy of Pt. Birju Maharaj and a celebration of the rich cultural heritage that continues to inspire generations.

Ritu Sengar
Ritu Sengar is an art writer executing research in the realm of Indian performing arts. She is currently serving as Content Editor at Punarjjani Bharat.

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