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An afternoon of dance and music 30th October 2010...


fiddlersOctober the 31st, 1:15 pm, I’m on a flight on my way back to Delhi having left my beloved hometown Darjeeling early this morning. Reminiscing with my wife about the event we were involved in yesterday, the 30th of Oct 2010. “ An afternoon of dance and music” featuring ‘Fiddlers on the Thatch’ and     ‘Prakriti Giri’ organized by Mankind in Action for Rural Growth ( MARG ).

My wife and me being supporters of MARG and since we both were in Darjeeling, we volunteered  for the fund raising event.

The venue was Southfield College (formerly Loreto College) auditorium. We reached by 10 am and began to set up the auditorium for the event. By midday, the preparations were almost over and the children of the Gandhi Ashram School ( Fiddlers on the Thatch ) had arrived. They were accompanied by Fr Patel, their teachers and orchestra conductors. We took them to the college canteen for refreshments followed by lunch. After they finished, the MARG children  were served lunch. At the same time, in the auditorium, last minute touch ups and sound checks were being done.

GandhiAshram copyBy 1:40 pm, the guests and patrons began to arrive. They were escorted to their seats by the volunteers. Notable amongst the guests were Fr G Van Wellegham, North Point, Dr. Ojha, Principal South Field College, Mr Shankar Mani Rai of  the Shankar Foundation, Mr Rajesh Garg a well known entrepreneur of Darjeeling,  Mr B.K. Pradhan  former Municipality Chairman of Darjeeling, Ms. Geeta Dewan of Cedar Inn and Miss. Prakriti Giri special guest artist a young celebrity from Darjeeling.

The host for the event was Mr Lee Pradhan, of Camelia School. Mr Pradhan had been very kind to take a day off his busy schedule and had volunteered to host the event.

At precisely 2:15 pm, after most of the guests and patrons had arrived, the event began with an opening address and a brief about MARG by Mr Lee Pradhan  and a short video on MARG and it’s activities till date. Mr Pradhan also introduced Mr Nirnay John Chettri , General Secretary of MARG, who has been instrumental in the progress of MARG .

The  Honorable Governor of West Bengal , Shri M.K. Narayanan, who isletterFromGovernerMARGWeb currently in Darjeeling, had shown a keen interest in attending the event but was unable to do so as he had prior engagements. However, he had sent a message expressing his disappointment at being unable to attend the function and wishing MARG luck for the event. This was read out to the audience by Mr Pradhan and was simultaneously shown on the screen.

It was now time for the first of the performances and the Gandhi Ashram children performed an Indian classical dance. This was a surprise as the audience was not expecting an Indian classical dance by the fiddlers. There was a boisterous round of applause.

This was followed by the lighting of the Some of the Guestsceremonial lamp ( dia ) by Fr. Patel and some of the guests and the presenting of the traditional garland (khada) to the guests by the MARG children. Mr Nirnay John Chettri then presented the ‘khada’ to the orchestra conductors Mr Rudra Mani Bishwakarma and Mr. Gurung.

A very touching video on how Fr. Edward McGuire, founder of the Gandhi Ashram School, discovered the fiddling talent on the children, was shown. It made an immediate impact on the audience as the next program was the performance of the Fiddlers on the Thatch Orchestra. They performed a mix of Nepali, Western Classical and Hindi numbers and held the audience at rapt attention. Each piece was followed by a tumultuous applause and thus the little kids of the Gandhi Ashram School enthralled the audience.

Fr Patel then addressed the audience and talked a little about his life at the Gandhi Ashram school.

It was then the turn of the MARG children to show off their talent. Four boys from Turnbull High School, Darjeeling sang a very melodious Nepali song. This was followed by another surprise by the Fiddlers on the Thatch. This time they performed a Michael Jackson dance on the very popular song of the 80’s “ Thriller”. This was then followed by a Nepali Folk Dance by MARG children and then a Western Classical Dance by the fiddlers.

Prakriti sings for MARG childrenAfter this Mr Pradhan handed over the dias to Mr Chettri for his vote of thanks. Mr Chettri delivered a heartfelt thanks to all who had contributed towards MARG in general and for the event in particular.

After Mr Chettri’s speech Mr Pradhan announced the final act. Special Guest Artist Ms Prakriti Giri, the local celebrity. She sang one Nepali and two Hindi songs and her performance had the audience clapping and stamping their feet and singing along with her.

The event  finally came to a close with the closing address by Mr Pradhan. Till that time not a single guest or patron had left.

Afterwards snack packets were distributed to all the children and special gifts organized by MARG was given to each of the 45 Fiddlers on the Thatch.

Finally after everyone had left, we stayed behind to wrap up. After that we too left.

Yes it was a resounding success… simple program.. with the usual technical hitches but nothing major and the program went off as smoothly as it could.. Without a dull moment…

I’m in the car… driving away from the auditorium… tomorrow I have to leave for Delhi….    

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