About the Blog

The Department of Political Science, with the assistance of the Division of International Studies & Programs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is pleased to introduce its India Program - a unique joint partnership between A&M-Kingsville; the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University-College Station; and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study (JNIAS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India.

The Program is being co-directed by Dr. Nirmal Goswami, Professor of Political Science, A&M-Kingsville; Dr. Kishore Gawande, Professor of Economics, the Bush School, Texas A&M-College Station; and by Dr. Aditya Mukherjee, Director, JNIAS.

The Program will include graduate and undergraduate students traveling to and staying in India from December 28th, 2010, through January 14th, 2011, attending classes at JNIAS, and visiting multiple sites through field trips in the greater New Delhi region. Areas of focus include history, politics, economics, culture, health, environmental policies, nuclear issues, etc., with reference to both greater Asia and India.

This blog will document our experience. You are welcome to post comments.

You are all invited to cyber travel with us as we learn about the uniqueness of India.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Learning Traditional Indian Dance at the Gandhi Memorial

A trip to Mahatma K. Gandhi’s memorial led to a wonderful surprise of games and dance on our third day of “Mission India.”  As we walked past the gates of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, we saw an array of people who were there to honor one of India’s, and the World’s, finest leaders and advocates of peace and freedom.  Faces in the crowd we saw had the look of awe and curiosity almost everywhere. Many seemed as if they were at home and in comfort within the Memorial. Children laughing in the distance first caught our eyes. I walked along with Bei, Mark, Caleb and Amanda drawn like magnets towards the laughter and chatter of young sweet voices. Though there were many sites to be seen, we all felt connected and touched by sound of laughter and innocence in the distance ahead of us. We stopped and stared at the children dressed in their beautiful and colorful traditional Indian clothing. Girls ran past one another with a youthful mentor running along in a game they called, “chain” We were invited to play this game with the young girls. We did! Amanda and I were eager to win yet we were the first caught in the chain! We ran, pulled to the left, and to the right. We laughed like the children. We became them. I felt at home as I thought of my own children and how long it has been since I last joined them in a game of tag or ghost. I was deeply moved by the kindness extended to us,  two grown women, two strangers, to play this child’s game.
After the game we learned that these girls were attending a dance class. Miss. Vijaya, the children’s dance teacher, volunteered her weekends to teach girls classical Indian dances.  I was touched by the time this lovely woman took out of her day to make these girls happy. Perhaps Gandhi’s message inspired this young woman to make her weekend sacrifice of time, yet she looked just as happy as the girls and most likely viewed this as no sacrifice.  Next, Vijaya invited us to watch as the girls preformed all kinds of wonderful dances for us, this day was to be their free day of dance yet the girls accepted us as guest and were eager to show us the art they learned. Girls ranging in age of 6 to 14, stood in their positions moving every part of their bodies in sync, with the motion of their limbs. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I thought of the focus and obedience they must put into each and every step they learned. Even their necks, eyebrows, eyes, and mouths moved in unison with their dance motions. I was amazed at this intricate art form and with Vijaya’s dedication to the girls.  Amanda, Bei and I were invited by Vijaya to learn a dance called the chak. We were taught to move our hands pointed out aligned with our feet in this simple beginners dance. I wanted to dance more yet the lesson was soon over L. Vijaya explained that the chak, a traditional Indian dance meaning “square,” which is why our bodies were in a square position as we danced.  We all thanked Vijaya and her young brilliant group of girls for their hospitality and kindness. This day, I am grateful how the people of India value their culture so intensely they are willing to share any part of it with strangers from a world outside their own.
Dance, laughter, joy: all of this happened to us while we were the Gandhi Memorial. The sense of joyous peace was everywhere.
~ Antonia M

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