Mandala South Asian Performing Arts performs at Naper Settlement

Lakshyaa Nathan, Correspondent

The Mandala South Asian Performing Arts group conducted a performance at Naper Settlement in celebration of the Diwali season for the first time on Oct. 9. The performance lasted from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Mandala Performing Arts shared the “Story of Ram,” the non-profit organization’s version of the Ramayana, a Hindu epic. The performance narrated this story through a variety of South Asian classical dances, including Indian, Balinese and Thai classical dances. 

 One of the main purposes of this performance was to bind together different South Asian cultures into one performance. The performance reflects the tellings of the Ramayana throughout South Asia. 

“The Ramayana is not specific to India nor to Hindu populations,” said Ashwaty Chennat, the Associate Artistic Director of Mandala.  “The Ramayana is actually told throughout South Asia through dance, theater and music traditions. Our production highlights the different cultures to tell this story.”

The Ramayana follows a Prince named Ram and his brother, Lakshman, in their adventures to save Sita, Ram’s wife, from Ravana, the villain of the story. 

Performances like the “Story of Ram” are not too common in the Naperville area. These performances are a way to bring more representation about South Asian classical dances to Naperville. 

“Doing more cultural festivals and shows would be a way to bring more representation to any South Asian classical dance, as exposure is the best way to bring more recognition,” said Aaryana Parekh, a sophomore and Indian classical dancer at Naperville North. “you can’t really read about a dance, you actually have to see it take place”.

In addition to bringing more recognition to South Asian classical dances in the Chicago area, Mandala hopes to form more bonds within the South Asian community. 

“One of Mandala’s hopes is to weave together the different parts of the South Asian community,” said Chennat. “We increase their overall visibility through solidarity and improve our own relation between each other.”

Mandala is continuing to strive for a strong South Asian community in the Chicago area. 

“We’ve got to keep doing what we do,” said Chennat. “If we know our own culture and identity, we will be able to listen to others with different cultures and identities.”