Sita Haran – A dance drama presented by the Indian Classical Arts Society (photos) 

By Isha Mahajan

The Indian Classical Arts Society at the University of Massachusetts Amherst performed “Sita Haran” at Bezanson Hall on Saturday, Feb. 23. The show was about retelling an epic story from the ancient Hindu text, Ramayana, about the abduction of Sita by the king of Lanka, Ravana.

The show was a compilation of acts performed in various Indian dance forms—Kathak, Odissi and Bharatanatyam—and music forms that were adapted from different parts of North and South India. The dancers were accompanied by live musicians from UMass Amherst and the Greater Boston area.

Ilina Shah, president of the Indian Classical Arts Society, said, “Sita Haran was a perfect story for this show because it was a short enough excerpt from the Hindu epic Ramayana which has been interpreted by dancers from many Indian classical dance and music forms. Each dancer and musician could develop their own unique take on the character they were playing.”

All of the artists have been trained in their music and dance styles for over five years. The acts that were performed through the evening were self-choreographed and took inspiration from set compositions that have been established in these varied dance forms. The use of live music and different facial expressions helped bring out the story and showed the creativity the artists used to execute the story. Sita Haran represented the diversity and relevance of mythology this is prevalent in Indian society.

The show began with an Odissi dance performance where the dancer offered her prayers to Lord Ganesha. Performed by Smith College student Maha Awaisi. (Isha Mahajan/Rebirth Project)
The dancers were accompanied by a set of musicians from UMass and the Greater Boston area. (Isha Mahajan/Rebirth Project)
An introduction to Ravana, the king of Lanka, and Surpanakha, his sister. Ravana promises to take revenge on Lord Rama who was responsible for cutting her nose. (Isha Mahajan/Rebirth Project)
(Isha Mahajan/Rebirth Project)
As Sita asks Lord Rama to get her the beautiful deer that she spotted in the Forest, Lord Rama leaves to find him and leaves Lord Lakshman, his brother to guard his wife. (Isha Mahajan/Rebirth Project)
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