The evening of 11th August was one filled with the celebration of art, poetry, expression and dance. The evening, titled as Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi (English: A Thousand Yearnings), was dedicated to the living legend, Ms. Indu Mitha. Mrs. Mitha is in herself an institution who has been thriving as a world renowned classical dancer for over six decades. She has been training students in Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Uday Shankar style, creative dance drama, and folk dance throughout the years. Mrs. Mitha is an exponent of Bharatnatyam since 1953, and a rare gem of Pakistan who deserves all the spotlight and appreciation she received that night.
Teachers and mentors leave a long-lasting impact on the lives of students and mold them to become the best versions of themselves. Ms. Feriyal Amal Aslam, Fulbright alumna and Amna Mawaz Khan, SUSI alumna both students of Ms. Indu Mitha organized the event to pay tribute to her dedication to the art of dance and her students. With the help of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network’s (PUAN) Grant Project, both students were able to commemorate Mrs. Mitha’s lifelong work in classical dance through an evening of art, dance, music and poetry.
Ms. Feriyal shared her motivation for arranging the event and said, “It indeed was an honor for me to be here and be a part of my teacher’s last presentation. My teacher, Ms. Indu Mitha, happens to be the most senior classical dance teacher from Pakistan. Through her work, we are trying to make Bharatanatyam thrive in Pakistan. It is an important component of our heritage. We, Pakistanis, need to claim it, celebrate it for Pakistan. Therefore, this work for me is very patriotic. This cultural heritage needs to be preserved and its beauty needs to be highlighted. Lastly, for me, this work is really the work of peace through the arts.”
The evening comprised of numerous performances dedicated to Mrs. Mitha’s work. Starting off from a group dance by the Manmoun-e-Shauq dance group, following performances by Iftikhar Masih, Dr. Feriyal Aslam, Asfandyar Anis Khattak, Amna Mawaz Khan, Zahra Khalid, Nadya Javaid and the National Performing Arts Group; the evening was a dance celebration like none other. Each piece was a work of art in its own capacity, depicting a strong message in each presentation.
Every performance was welcomed by the audience with even more zeal and appreciation than the previous one. The fan base was not limited to a gender or an age group, the attendees ranged from children to senior citizens all swaying to the moves by each performer. It was a houseful show and the audience kept growing throughout the event leading many to struggle to find a place to just catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing presentations.
Mrs. Mitha was received with an abundance of love and warmth by her students and the audience as they dedicated each performance to her life-long journey in the art of classical dance. In her concluding remarks, she said, “The classical dance is beyond beliefs. It is a language, a language of gestures. It should be available for the whole world to witness. I have taken a step. This is my contribution to the world from Pakistan to showcase the Bharatanatyam available here.”
Mrs. Mitha has indeed contributed immensely to the performing arts of Pakistan and shall be remembered as a historical figure for years to come. She is not only a talented individual but an educationist and mentor to many youths in the country that wish to promote the Pakistani culture within and beyond Pakistani, just like Mrs. Mitha did herself.
This event was made possible with the help of an alumni small grant from the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN). All alumni of various U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs in Pakistan are eligible to apply for the grant of up to 5,000 USD to enable them to give back to their communities.