It was a dream come true for me, when I was invited to perform at the Thirumarai Kalamandram at Jaffna also known as Centre for Performing Arts (CPA).
The CPA is founded by Rev. Fr. N. M. Saveri (Maria Xavier) who holds a doctorate in Saiva Siddhanta studies. The CFA has trained artistes and its groups have performed here and abroad and has employed the arts in times of war and conflict as a way to resolve issues.
Though I was invited to perform a solo performance, I requested for permission to take with me a few of my students. The invite came and this was the first International performance tour for the students of Kalai Koodam (the dance school I run in Chennai).
The team, me and my four students (M. Janani, S. D. Subhasree, Vaishnavi Sivachidambaram and J. Vanathi) immersed ourselves in the long and rigorous practise sessions for almost a month and a half since we were given the dates well in advance.
On August 7, 2015 we took the 6 a.m. Air India flight and landed in Sri Lanka, all of us understandably excited. We were met at the Bandaranayke Airport by Thirumarai Kalamandram’s contact person and we set off to Yaazhpaanam (Jaffna).
As we reached the heritage town of Anuradhapura, as luck would have it, my worst nightmare came true. The van broke down!There was a restaurant near the garage where the van was being repaired so we had our lunch and waited till we could resume the journey which took a full 3 hours. By the time we reached our destination, we were all tired and exhausted.
The next morning, my friends in Jaffna (I have many of them!) came to meet me and we were made to feel at home. We set off to visit the Jaffna Fort which today looks breathtakingly beautiful, as is the entire town.
That evening, my solo recital went on well. In the audience were a few Europeans and they later said they loved the concert. Father Xavier said, ‘It was completely mesmerising.’
The next day, August 9, we went to visit the Keerimalai Naguleswaram Temple and to the beach near it - we were completely enchanted on this tour.
That evening, we presented our production, ‘Shiva Shakti’. It was a packed auditorium and almost everyone came backstage to congratulate us after the performance. The applause during the show showed us how much they loved the show and the words of appreciation conveyed to us in person reiterated it. We felt so loved!
I was interviewed by all the major newspapers there - like Veerakesari, Thinakkural, Tamil Mirror, Sudar Oli and Udayan, by the radio channels like Analai FM in Canada and TV channels Shakthi TV and Roopavaahini’s Nethra TV.
On the way back, we got to spend 36 hours in Colombo after the 2 days in Jaffna.
Though the tour was short and hectic we enjoyed every bit of it.
My heartfelt thanks is due to my friend, Suhanya Aravinthon who was instrumental in making my tour dream come true!