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December 31, 1999
Children Espouse Subramaniya Bharathi's Ideals
Prakash M Swamy in New York
When the New York Tamil Sangham decided to mark yet another birth anniversary of poet and freedom fighter Subramaniya Bharathi, one of its leaders thought that one sure way to get the attention of the audience was to involve children in a competition.
While there were interesting items such as the audiovisual show of movie clips of Mahakavi Bharathi's songs, the children's performance was the highlight.
The idea to conduct competitions for kids was first mooted by Dr M N Krishnan, one of the founders of the Sangham, who has also sponsored the audiocassette Pudumai Bharathi.
Krishnan, one of the early immigrants to America felt that children were being alienated from Indian culture and heritage and had little knowledge on some of the greatest sons of India.
He is now planning to conduct a similar competition on behalf of the Sangham in Chennai and invite the winners to tour the US.
The children's competition was organized by noted composer-singer New York Raja. Over 40 children enthusiastically sang Bharathi songs.
With a view to helping children practise at home, New York Raja had presented his audio cassette Pudumai Bharathi to the participants, so that they could come well-prepared for the event.
Music teachers in New York area -- Nalini Sampath Kumar, Dr Rohini Ramanathan, Saavithri Ramanand, Sumathi and Ranganayaki Srinivasan -- trained their students to participate in the event.
However, there were several children who were either trained by their parents or used the cassette to take part in the competition, said New York Raja.
"The response was overwhelming. The idea was to take Bharathi closer to the hearts of young children born and raised in the US. This had helped the kids appreciate the depth of Bharathi's multi-faceted personality and patriotism," he said.
"The event would not have become possible but for cooperation of music teachers and parents in preparing the children."
Distributing prizes to children, actress Gauthami praised the Sangham for organizing the event and said Bharathi lived in the hearts of every Tamizhan wherever they resided. She said the response of the children was overwhelming and such events would help American-born children appreciate India's hoary past.
A special prize was given to a three-year-old baby Rathika Thevadasan of New Jersey who ambled on to the podium with confidence, exhibiting no fear and sang a song to the thunderous cheers of the audience.
Dance teachers also took part in paying homage to Bharathi. Students of Sadhana Paranji, Sathya Pradeep and Vigneswari staged group dances using some of the popular Bharathi songs.
New York Raja has distributed over 500 audio cassettes on Bharathi to poor school children in Tamil Nadu to propagate the message of the nationalist poet.
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