Report of 19 Annual Day Programme

It has been said by the ancient prophets that existence is the biggest of all miracles. And what could be better way of celebrating that miracle, than the yearly custom of commemorating annual days? For that is a golden occasion to look back at the achievements of the past and look forward to the promises of the future. On 27th February, 2010 Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan celebrated our annual day, marking a whole 19 years of existence! It has been a long journey for us, with many ups and downs from the momentous day on 7 July, 1990 when we started out with just three students at Shahbaz Village.

This year, the Annual Day was based on the theme of National Integration, to coincide with 60 years of India becoming an independent republic. Preparations had started several weeks in advance, with staff and students taking timeout from their regular activities to prepare various songs, dances and even a drama! No student was left out, as programmes were designed to accommodate the talents of each and everyone. Our teachers did a hugely creditable job of teaching the dance steps, training and motivating the students, and organizing all the costumes and props.

The occasion was organized at Vishnudas Bhave Auditorium, Vashi. Students, staff and parents had all assembled by 11:00 AM, and the air was full of excitement and expectation. Our staff and volunteers had decorated the stage to bring across the theme of the day. A large map of India was in the centre, surrounded by cut-outs of people in the typical dresses of various states. Students had come prepared in their various costumes from the school itself, so the backstage was a merry riot of colour and noise. Oh, to be a student again!

The activities began with prayers to Param Pujya Swami Brahmanand, our guiding light and source of strength. That was followed by our age-old custom of lighting a lamp, which is a symbol to dispel the darkness of ignorance and spreading the light of right knowledge and consciousness. The ceremonial lamp was lit by our chief guest Shri Vinayak Gokhale, along with our guests of honour Shri Madhukar Govekar, Dr. Prashant Moralwar, and Shri Atul Shah.
And then the excitement that was building up for so long, finally came to life! We began with the presentation of ‘Natrang’ – a Marathi folk dance. Natrang is an invocation to Rang Devata, the god of music and dance, to bless the programme. It was artistically presented by students of pre-vocational and vocational group. Sujit Phadnis, Saurav Hanra and others provided the background song for it.
As the claps subsided, our most severely affected students from all sections came forward to present Ho Raje. It was as if Chhatrapati Shivaji and his ministers had themselves come to watch our programme. It shows that when it comes to enthusiasm, our students have no limitations!

That was followed by Lakh Lakh Chanderi, presented by the younger students of Playgroup, Pre-primary I & Pre-primary II section. This is a dance based on a famous Marathi song of a bygone era.

Students of vocational and pre-vocational sections then assembled to celebrate the wedding of Lord Khanderaya to Rukmini. Yashodhar Bobhade did a great job as the ‘sutradhar’, dancing to the tune of ‘Navri Natli’ as he introduced the wedding guests – the gods Ganesh and Saraswati, Vishnu & Lakshmi, Shiva & Parvati. The audience was so captivated by the performance, that there was a huge applause and calls for an encore too!

From the gods, were transported to the hills and tea-estates of Assam by the students of Primary & Secondary Sections. Now Assamese dances are difficult to execute, and the best of dancers find them tough – especially the famous dance in which the performers have dances between sticks. Nevertheless, the students gave such a stunning performance to the song ‘Daiya Re Daiya, Das Gayo Papi Bichhua’ that the audience was left spellbound, and their beautiful black-and-gold traditional costumes added to the magic. The parents were truly happy to have such talented children.

We then moved to the other end of the country, with the vigorous ‘Appadi Podu’ dance from the city of Chennai, presented by students of Pre-vocational and Vocational sections, who were dressed up in saris and dhotis! One can claim with pride that it was as good as the original dance, from the Tamil film Gilli.

Students of Vocational and Pre-vocational sections also presented a Goan folk dance – ‘Makanaka Go’. This is a famous song about a boatman who has to cross a dangerous river. But the ease with which our students did it didn’t seem to suggest that there was any danger in their ability to do it!

After that abundance of culture and talent, we moved on to an important part of the Annual Day – felicitation of our outstanding students and staff as well as our donors and patrons. The ceremony was presided over by Shri Vinayak Gokhale, formerly the Chief Superintending Engineer of CIDCO, and presently the coordinator of the Navi Mumbai branch of Vivekanand Centre. Also present on the dais were Shri Madhukar Govekar, Dr. Prashant Moralwar, a well-known pediatrician and patron of our institution, Shri Atul Shah, a noted businessman and philanthropist, along with representatives of the Parents’ Association and our Trustees.

One student each from our three units was given prizes for their overall progress over the year. The criteria for selection included attendance, participation in classroom and extra-curricular activities and academic/vocational performance. Aditya Patil of the Secondary Section won the prize for Best Student of the Disha Special School. Suraj Kotian was judged the Best Student of Falguni Vocational Training Centre. Ashiqul Mulla emerged as the Best Student of Sweekar centre at Uran. All of them were presented prizes by our Chief Guest, to thunderous cheering from the audience.

Smt. Smita Waghmare of the Pre-Primary Section II deserves a special mention, as she is this year’s Best Teacher. The judgment was based on overall performance in terms of attendance, submissions, planning and involvement in organization activities. Points were assigned to all teachers based on both self-appraisal & voting by colleagues; on this basis Smita emerged the winner.

By then the audience and performers had gotten a little impatient – for they were waiting for the rest of the cultural programmes! So we closed the felicitation with a short speech by our Chief Guest, and moved on to a special drama presented by a mixed group of students. The skit was titled “The Show Must Go On”, based on a script by Smt. Vidya Avasak, teacher of Pre-primary Section I. Based on the theme of life in a circus, it included a mix of acting, dancing and acrobatics, and had our students dressed up as an elephant, a clown, a monkey and a ringmaster, too! Needless to say, it was enjoyed by children and adults alike. What must be said is that the same skit had won us a prize at the zonal-level drama competition for schools, held at Natyashala in Matunga, Mumbai on 15th January, 2010!

No annual day can be complete without a performance by our star singer – Sujit Phadnis. So to the accompaniment of an orchestra, he sang out Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s famous song ‘Piya Re, Piya Re, Thare Bina Lage Nahi, Mara Jiya Re’ in his melodious voice.
Students of Primary Section I and the Transition group then came on stage to present a Rajasthani dance, based on the song ‘Sajna Ji Vaari Vaari Jaoongi’. The dance was set in a rural area, with props like grain pounders, charpoy, butter churns etc that showed a traditional way of life. We wonder who had more fun – the students while presenting it, or the audience while watching it.

Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan has always encouraged talents going beyond the mundane, so we now have a well-trained body of singers, who can tackle songs that have complex melodies. That was very evident in the next presentation – when older students from many sections sang the famous song written by Gulzar - “Chappa Chappa Charkha Chale”.

After that soulful song, it was time for some merriment in true Punjabi style. So students of Pre-vocational and Vocational Sections gave an exhilarating performance, dancing to a medley of Bhangra hits. In their yellow suits and purple handkerchiefs, they presented a really uplifting spectacle that was enjoyed by all.

After a short vote of thanks to all our donors, parents, and supporters, we closed with a moving rendition of ‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’ by students of the Sweekar centre at Uran. Using banners of saffron, white and green cloth, they presented a fitting salute to Mother India.

All of this was possible to the untiring efforts of our teachers - Vidya Avasak, Smita Waghmare, Shobha Dhone, Smita Vartak, Sandhya Pagare, Rupali Hire, Shobha Dhone, Rekha Grace, Bhima Dandekar, Suneet Marwah, Aditi Kadam, Anita Punj, Sachin Jadhav, Madhuben Shah, Nishaad Wakurdekar, Kirit Nandu, Sachin Gachhe, Pallavi Pardesi – who planned the programmes, prepared the decorations and props, choreographed the dance steps and most of all, trained the students to give the exceptional performances that they did. Shashikant Bandekar, Laxman Mhatre, Rakesh Mhatre, Ravinder Pal Walia and Vinod Munde also get credit, for their help in setting up the stage and other preparations.

The physical aspect of our 19th Annual Day ended with a lunch shared by students, staff and parents. But it lives on in spirit, in the form of pleasant memories that will live in the minds of everyone present there, for years to come.