“Utsaham”: Cultural Day - Grades 1-2

NPS International Chennai’s Annual Cultural Day, Utsaham 2023, was celebrated on Saturday, 11th February 2023. The event, “The Magic of Numbers”, saw the young students of Grades 1 and 2 taking the audience on a journey along the number line, with each class and section presenting different aspects of the nine numbers from One to Nine. Parents and other guests were seated in the school auditorium by 10:15 AM, and the dignitaries made their entrance at 10:30 AM. The Chief Guest for the morning session was the founder of the dance school “Advaitha”, Shrimati Vidhya Athreyan, a professional dancer from Kalakshetra with a career spanning more than two decades.

The programme began with a brief introduction to the importance and ubiquitousness of numbers and explaining how the show would revolve around patterns and places where the various numbers are seen in everyday life. Students of Grade 1C then took the stage to present the first two numbers, 1 and 2. The sun, moon and earth represented the number One. The number Two was depicted through the story of Hansel and Gretel and with a “skeleton” dance showing pairs throughout our body. Grade 2B presented the numbers Three and Four. This included Gandhiji’s three monkeys and the story of Three Little Pigs, followed by two dances showing four suits of cards and four directions. Grade 1A took on the Five elements with a graceful depiction of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space with colourful costumes and evocative movements. Next came Grade 1B with the number Six portrayed through six-headed Shanmukha, six tastes, and the six sides of a honeycomb and a snowflake. The number Seven was taken up by Grade 2D with their rainbow dance followed by a unique presentation of the seven notes or saptaswara and an appearance by Snow White and the seven dwarves. Grade 2A gave the audience a spirited performance of the number Eight showing the Ashtalakshmi and the eight planets in the solar system with a lively narrative involving a threat to the universe overcome by the goddesses. Finally, Grade 2C presented the number Nine through a complex performance showing the court of Emperor Akbar. Using a conversation at court, the young ones depicted several examples of the number nine, like the Nava Dhanya and the Nava Rasas.

The audience got truly into the spirit of the performances, enthusiastically cheering and encouraging the young students on stage. Each performance had carefully designed costumes, props and background visuals and was set to ideal musical selections. From the candy hut in Hansel and Gretel to the beautifully painted lotus seats of the Ashtalakshmi; from the turbans and costumes of Akbar’s court to the stunning costumes for the skeleton dance – all were appreciated and admired by the watching parents and family members. The students were gratified by the exuberant applause and performed their best – the dancers were all perfect with their steps and all the actors displayed their acting chops. The three monkeys of Gandhiji, the wolf blowing down the homes of the three little pigs, the interaction between Hansel and Gretel and the witch, the depiction of the Ashtalakshmi protecting the planets, and the expressive rendition of the nine emotions (navarasas) were all greatly enjoyed.

At the end of the performances, the Chief Guest was invited on stage to address the gathering. Shrimati Athreyan expressed her delight at the performances of the young children on stage and commended the teachers and staff whose efforts made the event possible. She added her appreciation for all the tiny details which had been considered, from costumes and props to make-up, jewellery and even hairclips. She advised the parents in the audience of the importance of helping children identify their passions and encouraging them.

The closing remarks were made by Principal of NPS International Chennai, Ms. Sudha Balan. She began by thanking the Chief Guest for her perceptive comments and reinforcing their message. She expressed her admiration for the young ones on the stage both for their actions and their problem solving in the moment. She appreciated the teachers who had been putting in time and effort to ensure the success of the event as well as numerous others. With the return after the pandemic, she pointed out the necessity to wait till students had settled into the system before such proceedings could occur. She commended all the time put in for practices and all the teams involved in props, artwork, and technical aspects. The senior students who had ably narrated the entire event were called on stage to be appreciated along with the student volunteers. Ms. Balan then thanked the parents and grandparents for their invaluable involvement and presence, and ended by hoping for a long and productive relationship with the families.

The event ended with a rendition of the national anthem. The audience made their way out of the auditorium which then began preparations for the second session of the day, Utsaham for Grades 3 to 5.