Dhamaal is one of the most celebrated events of the Bhawanipur Education Society College (BESC), when students – cutting across caste, creed or colour do the dandiya to celebrate the arrival of Ambe Maa (Uma or Durga in Bengal) on Earth, a process that ends in the triumph of good over evil. To facilitate the participation of non-Gujrati students, it is the norm to hold a workshop where the students wishing to participate are taught the unique dance steps, and the socio-religious significance of the dance is explained.
This year was no exception and Prof Dilip Shah – the Dean of Student Affairs of the BESC flagged off the three-day workshop by giving the students a backgrounder of the event, its importance as a community led programme of assimilation and its greater purport. He also introduced Dharmesh Bhimani, ace exponent of the dance form who traditionally conducts the workshop for the college.
The two hundred plus students – who had secured their entry on a first come first served basis, such was the demand for entry into the coveted group, where taken through the motions over the next three days even as the course coordinator slowly turned up the pitch teaching them more and more complex steps and formations. Students were also taught the rudiments of Garba, another popular dance form from the western coasts of India.
The excitement was palpable and the fact that most of the students participating in the dance were non-Gujrati’s was another vindication of BESC’s core belief of seeking unity in diversity. “The dynamics of groups and the management of its different constituents” said Prof Dilip Shah with a smile, “is not something that we learn from the text books alone. You can literally dance your way to knowledge and this, I believe is BESC’s contribution to the domain of knowledge sharing – imbibing knowledge of the traditional through not so traditional means”.
Dharmesh Bhimani who conducted the workshop was ecstatic, “one has to come here to understand the sheer energy and excitement that the students radiate. I seldom work with so many non-Gujrati students in a batch, and I am nothing short of overwhelmed by their participation and the sheer passion that they bring to the dance floor”.
(This report has been filed by Nidhi Desai of the Expressions collective of the BESC)