Young Kiwi Indians find their roots in tradition

June 15, 2022

Young Kiwi Indians find their roots in tradition

Teachers and students at Sargam School of Indian Music and Dance in a rendition of a classical piece by maestro Ravi Shankar. Photo: supplied

Young Kiwi Indians in Auckland are turning to their traditional roots in growing numbers.

A leading arts institute in Blockhouse Bay, Sargam School of Indian Music and Dance, has seen some 2000 students complete various programmes.

Director and founder Professor Shukhdev Madhur says cultural fusions in a cosmopolitan city are expected and welcomed, but knowing your history is equally important.

“Knowing your roots, understanding your ancestors’ struggles, and celebrating the success of your culture, allows you to learn, adapt, and explore the opportunities that are before you.

“One that is not attuned with their roots can not fully understand the path they are meant to be taking.”

Professor Madhur says Indian classical music, for example, not only helps develop healthy identities but also shapes emotional intelligence.

“I’ve been teaching music for decades now, and I’ve noticed that a child exposed to music is more than likely to be attuned with their emotions, using this art as a catalyst to channel their lower energies.

“Music also plays a crucial role in developing a nature of discipline and concentration which is essential for our younger generation who are exposed to many societal changes.”

Te Waha Nui spoke to a student of the academy, Rachna Kumar, who explained the importance of Indian classical music to her well-being, especially during the last two years in Auckland lockdowns.

“My relationship with music helped keep me aligned to a purpose during these uncertain times.

“It was challenging, but I always found comfort in Indian classical music and my practice.

“It’s my heritage, my identity, my culture. It connects us to generations of our rich history, traditions, and stories uniquely Indian.”

Professor Madhur has two masters degrees in classical Hindustani music and vocals and has been recognised with a national award from the President of India for his efforts towards national integration.

Another leading north Indian classical dance academy in Auckland, Kathak Kendra Nrityashala, has seen an increase in student numbers over the years.

Director and founder Parul Juneja says the Kathak academy grew significantly over the past two years, with more than 100 students enrolling in the programme.

Senior teacher Dr Nikita Botadra says as a Kiwi kid, Indian dance has helped her stay connected to her culture, provided a creative outlet and helped her stay fit.