Season 2, Episode 34

Born to Dance

with

Sudha Chandra Sekhar Part 1

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Today’s Guest

 

In today’s episode I am speaking with eminent guru and dancer Sudha Chandra Sekhar.

 Symbolizing the peak of purity and performance, Sudha Chandra Sekhar has been classed with the all-time greats of classical Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi schools. Meticulous in each portrayal and adhering to the purity of style, Sudha has become one of those artists who combines versatility and artistry.

As a dedicated dancer and a rare genius, Sudha understands the art, is very much alive in the field and has shifted her activities from India to the U.S. and Canada. Sudha has given around 7,000 performances throughout India and abroad. She conducts classes for young aspirants, imparts theory classes for more advanced students, professionals and others interested in her art, and has presented more than 117 students in their classical dance performance debuts, known as Arangetram.

During summer recesses, Sudha has conducted advanced dance camps and workshops both in U.S. and Canada, where students have intensive training and research opportunities. She has also taught seasonal course sessions and independent study courses through University of Windsor, Wayne State University, Albion College and University of Michigan.

Sudha’s dance organization, Nritya Sudha’s Hindu Temple Rhythms, celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018.

If you love the show please leave a rating or a review here.

If you have a comment or question please reach out to me at malini@malinisarma.com or on Instagram @gladiatrixpodcast.

 

 

Guests

Sudha Chandr Sekhar

 Resources

 

Hindu Temple Rhythms
@htrdance on Instagram
Sudha Sekhar on Facebook

 

 Get This Episode

Malini Sarma 0:02

Hi, Sudha aunty, thank you so much for joining this podcast. I have been looking forward to this interview for so long. I'm really, really, really happy that you're here. And I'm sure the rest of the world can't wait to hear what wisdom you have to share with them.

Sudha Sekhar 0:21

Hello, Malini Radhe Krishna. I'm so happy to be here to spend these few moments talking about other parts of my life that I never thought about until you can ask me this question. Very special, especially hour long chat, I think.

Malini Sarma 0:40

Yes. Especially since today was the day that you arrived in North America. Do you want to tell the world when that was?

Sudha Sekhar 0:50

Yes. I left India on January 12, at four o'clock in the morning, which means it was already January 13. And it was a Thursday night and Friday morning. And I arrived in Montreal on Friday night at 8pm. That's January 13 1967. Night. Wow. That's today?

Unknown Speaker 1:15

Yes,

Malini Sarma 1:16

53 years ago. Oh, and

Sudha Sekhar 1:19

the next day was Pongal and tomorrow is Pongal.

Malini Sarma 1:22

That's right. This is a very auspicious. This is a very auspicious time. So and and your mother was a very special lady. I know, because I spend a lot of time with her. And she prayed for a daughter who would be born to dance. So what was it like growing up knowing that you were groomed for the stage by your mother?

Unknown Speaker 1:45

You know, when I was a little girl, my mom used to take such good care of me. I don't remember too much of my childhood except being pampered. But at the same time, very, very under the strict, watchful eyes of my mom, you know, and it was, according to her and naughty child, I was very mischievous. I would hide myself from her, I would hide in foot inside furniture. Because there were there was one round coffee table, which were two glass things and I would sit in the middle of those two glass, you know, parts and she would be looking all over the house for me and saying Sudha Where are you, where are you and I would just be peeping at her through that and not make a single sound. This was when I was a baby. I know, just climb into that and comfortably sit in there. And then she'll find. So she would, you know, she'd leave the oil to give me an oil bath. I would take it and put it all over myself. And she'll say I just cleaned you up, and you put all oil all over you again. So I do things like that. And then she found that I always was itching to do things. You know, I think that's why she said I will put her to dance class because she always wanted a daughter who would dance and she prayed and prayed for it. So yeah, I did not find out those things much until much later when she told me these stories, you know, you found out at eight that I was meant to dance. All I did was listen to her. I was obedient. So whatever mom to me, I would listen because I thought she knew so much more than me. And to me, she looked like a goddess. You know, my mother always looked like Raja rajeshwari for me. And that was important. So later on when she told me I had to do this. I thought hey, why not? If your mother wants you to do things, I should make it. Make it possible because mom and dad are your first gurus. And they tell you who your friends are and who you can be comfortable with and how you should go on with your life. So that'show my life went.

Malini Sarma 3:58

So did you ever argue with her about not being a dancer? Did you ever tell ask her? You know, like, I want to be something else does that ever come up? No. So you were the you were the Obiedient child you followed your mom's direction? No, I

Unknown Speaker 4:17

just thought that she was so brilliant, you know, because my mother used to have this Indian women's magazine and she was the editor of that magazine. So she was clipping and fixing things and having a bunch of people working for her. And she was very good in English. And she was so well read and knew exactly what the ladies wanted. And she had brought with her because she was born in Palaghat,right and in Palaghat that they live close to the temple. She was extremely spiritual woman. So she had a cooking skills were excellent. Yes. And she loved herself. She loved to look nice and she was very slim long hair, very, very beautiful woman. So she took all those to herself. Yeah, she was a self educated kind of looking at the world and learning because she lost her mother when she was three years old, which is very young. So she did not know the mother was everything to her, but she's too young to understand. But she had a younger sister, she had to take care of. Amma was five, and Savitri chitti was three. So at five, she was taken away and sent to different chittis and periammas. And everybody grew up among a bunch of people. And who showed her that this is what the world outside is going to be like, it's not going to be a bed of roses, it's going to be, we'll be chastising you just people will find fault with you. So you have to be ready to face those kinds of consequences very early in life. She taught herself that and then she went to this saint. What was it? Yeah, she was educated in with the nuns, you know, in, in Catholic schools, both she and Savitri the nuns taught her, about the wickedness in the world, and the goodness in them, and how Jesus would help us through all those things. So she also learned to take upon herself, fault of other people, if anybody made a mistake. And they pointed it at her. She gleefully accepted it and said, I'm sorry, I did that. Please give me the punishment I need. So she took somebody else's faults on herself. And that made her very good. I said, Did you feel martyered? She's no, I chose to do that. I said, Why did you do that? She said, because otherwise that other person will feel bad. And that other person will be their parents might get mad at that other person. So I took it upon myself because I didn't have a mother who will yell at me, or a father who was around me. So just better. I was like an orphan. And she's there. From then itself, she felt very close to orphans very close to women who had domestic and domestic problems and things like that. And she was always solving those things for them. And then she marched Mahatma Gandhi, in the salt March, she took part in the Freedom Movement. And she walked miles and miles with them. And these were the things and my grandfather didn't say anything, because he said, as long as my daughter is educating herself and being a good person, I think she should have given the the independence to do that. So her father gave her the independence to do that. But her two mamas taught her how to be strong, to be argumentative, where necessary to protect her where necessary. So Mani mama and Ramu mama took care of that two brothers. And my mom had my grandmother, my mother's mom, her name was Lakshmi, she had three other sisters. So there were four of them. So they were Kamala chitti and Ammini Periamma. And then there was Sharada chitti, and then there was Kamala chitti was the youngest, of course. So she grew up among all of them. And the chiitis all taught her, Kamala chitti taught her all about Ramakrishna Mission and how Holy Mother was how she has to be like holy mother. And she was brought up and she said, I don't want you to get into trouble because you know, you're young and you don't have a mother. So I want to be in your mother's place to tell you Jayamma, You are such an intelligent girl. She put she pointed out that she was intelligent all the time. He always said Jayamma, you are going to bring changes in the world. You're going to be you know, onnaley to handle pannum mudium, you keep rajarajeswari close to you. You keep the god close to keep Holy Mother close to you. So my mother was given that kind of a strength. Then she passed it all to me. She said tomorrow, anything happens to me if anything goes wrong. You should not stand in the wilderness saying I don't have anybody always remember. There is Lord Krishna. And rajarajeswari brother and sister ruled the world. And you hang on to them because men may come men may go but you go on forever. She used to tell me that. Okay, mom, and I will say but you're over there with me. You're not gonna leave me. I'm so lucky. I have you. I kept keep feeling of feeling lucky. fortunate in having a mother who cared so much. When I was I think when I was eight years old. I almost died. I got very high fever. I was in Delhi at that time. And, you know, at the time I was born during World War Two was going on.

Unknown Speaker 9:41

Okay.

Unknown Speaker 9:44

So I was born at that time, and my brother, they used to have all these fighter planes going above our heads where we lived and I learned about war and peace and I didn't understand anything. I said why should anybody war with each other. So my mom used to say because People want other people's things. That's why there's war. You know, so she used to that day she told me when you want somebody else's thing, okay, then you will be in trouble because you won't be you will be unhappy. Until you get once you get that thing you'll get blamed because you the method you used to get it. So other things and garbage is the same thing.

Malini Sarma 10:28

Yeah, Ammamma always a very strong person. I she's a phenomenal she was a phenomenal lady,

Sudha Sekhar 10:35

extremely. And then, whatever I am today, I think I'm just a replica of her because I observed her very closely. I saw go throught the Ashta nayika later on when I was dancing. You know, like bhavams came after observing my mom. So I'd come home come back. Today master taught me about KalahanTarita she said how do you know about that? Is it because you fight with daddy sometimes? I don't fight Appa he doesn't pay attention to me that I said that's not what kalahantarita is. Somebody doesn't pay attention to me then you feel bad, right? So I'm not going to feel bad when I get married. I won't tell my husband anything. Yes, you cannot be like me when I'm weak. You should be the strong part of me not the weak part. I will say . Okay. She was very proud of me. And then we had imposition we didn't listen. Get 108 times Sri Rama Jayam, Sri Rama Jayam, Sri Rama Jayam, And then whatever we did? I will not do that again.

Malini Sarma 11:41

That is a very Catholic school punishment Sudah aunty

Unknown Speaker 11:45

write pages and pages with them. So I didn't want to sit and write I like to read a lot. So I would. And then if she asked me to write, I'll make my handwriting very, very beautiful. Then she'll give me compliments. You see, because Amma asked you to write your handwriting became good. Every time there was a challenge given to me and I rose to the occassion. But she found out when I was two, I used to dance to the drips of water from a tap. So I found out that ability and then right away, she started looking for a dance teacher. She lived in Matunga. At that time, I was born in Bombay, in Dadar Hmm. And KV Pai was the name of my doctor. See, I still remember his name. Dr. kV Pai. Kindly put very sweet person very nice family and Shekhar those later on. I found out my husband Shekhar was born in the same hospital.

Malini Sarma 12:40

No kidding. Oh my goodness. You can talk about a small world. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 12:46

He was born in the same hospital we were Babies in the same... Except he was born four years before me. Okay, he was 1934 and I was born 1940 Wait, no. 1936 he was born. I was born in 1940. Okay, right. So for. But we never knew we never met until I was 26. Wow, But he knew me and travel in the double decker bus. That's another story. I mean, back to my mom. She would teach me how to get advertisements how to talk to people. And she would use beautiful English, you know, the way she explained it to them, she would ask them for articles. She would welcome the art of cooking on how to keep house on various things. I have one copy of that magazine saved. And I was telling Anandini if I want to do anything when I'm eighty years old, and I want to bring this magazine to life again, just the way it was. Not fancy this thing and all that but just like how she had done it in the in the right side or the left side of the magazine as you open it. There used to be a beautiful picture of a lady standing against the tree. No, it was hand drawn and a little orange background. And on the right. They had all this Its called Indian woman's magazine.

Malini Sarma 14:02

Wow. And 19 When was it first published?

Unknown Speaker 14:06

The 40s it was the early 40s before independence 40 and 1940s six 948 and even into the 50s because I used to be dancing mom used to continue doing these things and dad was behind all this because he used to go on tours often. So he said why don't something like this but it was mom's idea. I don't want to sit here worrying about you. So I want to do this. And then she joined the Cosmopolitan ladies club and she was the president of the Cosmopolitan ladies club. And she used to play tennis She used to drive a car. Wow. Nice to play tennis Okay, Lawn Tennis and then also badminton. So ammama did sports very well, that the you know, the teaspoon the lime and grace. Yes, yes. 3 legged race, she organized all these sports is to learn all those things. And we used to play this de dee dandy gul You know, you make a hole in the ground put the put the wood piece across and take a stick and hit it at the end as you fly up here and then you hit it and it'll go and fall. That was our first introduction to golf. Golf you know, I didn't know anything about golf at that time. We used to call it iti iti dandi gul. Yes,

Malini Sarma 15:35

I remember.

Unknown Speaker 15:38

We played lazeem and then she got me interested in dance. He started teaching me little little dances. She showed me dances by Vyjayanthimala and Kamala and all of them as I was growing up. So then she found the Kupayatan Dance School, in Dadar which was run by Rahmani GB Rahmani and his wife and then he had a beautiful teacher who was just like you Malini. The teacher is tall like you she had a little sunken cheeks but our eyes every time you talk and everything exactly like Naga Ratna that's what was the name? Naga and she was so she I still remember her saying thin tha takita takita takita then tha thakita thakita thaa that was Manipuri I was learning so she would keep her hand in hamsasyam. And look at one corner and the other corner I can see myself dancing in that dance school it was in Dadar. I learnt Manipuri for 2 years money yeah, and my has in our home we had athan's son Krishna he would come and take me to the dance class and me back and then when I was three mom put me in Montessori School. Okay, Mrs. Masaranas is a very sweet and loving lady who spoke quietly I didn't pick up speaking quietly from any one of them. You have to be heard. So you cannot speak to yourself. Okay. Perishaa chollu smile like this look like this look your eye must look this way. Every part of me I used to smile with all my teeth together you know eeee like that. Mom would say You should smile look at this picture see how Vyjayanthis's smiling Look at all this. This, you know but at that time we had Bhanumati at the and Sundara Devi, Vyjayanthi's mother so she says see how that lady looks I'll say she knows she's big, is big. And she'll say you have to become big someday, if you start practicing now, by that time your smile will be better. I was very careful what I ate how I stood what clothes I wore everything. She chose my clothes. She chose my friends. She chose everything I had to do in life and I never regretted it. I never accosted her about it. I never thought it was wrong. I think that way I was very lucky because there are so many children who tell their moms to keep quiet and don't say that to me. I know what I have to do with my life. I can't do that to my mom. She was too special for me and I don't remember a single day said those things to her. You know, I'm so grateful to the Goddess and to Krishna and whoever is taking care of me and Sai Shirdi Sai I should at first guru for me was Shirdi Sai Baba after Amma. And then myGovindraj Pillai came and then to say guru, you know, she took me to Rama Krishna Mission Holy Mother all those those are all around me. I was observing all that. But I didn't feel I fitted in that area but I loved everything they said. Ramakrishna Mission was a very homely place for me. I used to go and play with all this Bhajagiri Maharaj and all the sawmijis budgetary Bhajagiri Maharaj was very fond of my mom would always say Jayamma come, Today I will talk to you about or Ramakrishna said this condition and he talked to take some things I didn't understand. Now I understand. But that was in Khar we used to go to Khar road and visit Ramakrishna mission there.

Unknown Speaker 19:24

And I still remember khaṇḍana bhava band­hana jaga van­dana vandi tomāy |

nirañ­jana nara-rūpa-dhara nir­guṇa guṇa­may ||

Unknown Speaker 19:44

That is to be their aarti.. See, so many years later, eighty years later I am singing this.

Malini Sarma 19:50

Wow. So awesome.

Unknown Speaker 19:53

Swami shivananda is another great soul that Amma introduced me to reading the books. I don't I met him ever. But he was his books were all over the house. And I would pick them up and read them. I would read only spiritual books. I'd never read any novels or anything like that. later on. As I got older and 10 years mom picked up some of these, you know, Daphne du Maurier. Du Maurier and then I read Shakespeare, and I used to read, you know, very classic books like that. I liked the story, called Thelma very much. And I like all those Jane Eyre and books like that with girls with me because their parents were not there, how they got on those books, you know how how to make yourself strong in life. So, literature was foremost in my, in my mind, I used to get lots of marks for literature. And so that was there, the schooling was there with the with the nuns, nuns were around until I got to college and even after college because even in college, we had Sophia College for Women and I first went to St Philomena convent. Then I went to St. Joseph's convent, and from St. Joseph's it becomes Auxilium Convent, St. Joseph's High School was mixed. We had boys and girls there and there also I used at the table tennis with my my with the principal. Oh Father Rego Father Rego father Sprat he was taller. And Father Rego was chubby so I used to say you're just like Laurel and Hardy. I was unafraid so you think I am hardy? And he's Laurel Yeah, you look like that. I don't think you're like that. I respect you but you remind me of them and I really like being with you also these to be a table tennis with me and the boys played dodgeball and all that so I let go not a terror people used to be intimidated with me but I had lots of a lot of friends.

Malini Sarma 22:14

So yes.

Unknown Speaker 22:15

i remember very carefree. I had friends. We had Pooja at home. Pooja was a necessity every morning I used to go down right down to the neighbor's house because they had a tree and now I find out that there was was parijata flowers that I bought. It might be called it's something but now recently I found out that's called a parijata flower with the orange in the middle. I said oh my god, Krishna. I like satyabhama. I had a parijata tree and I didn't even know he would be yes I would be destined to pluck the flowers only. I know. And then I used to bring that home arrange it for God is to decorate devi with Chandanam and all that love doing those things, all those fantastic things is still they still with me, you know, but I basically do them mentally sometimes. Or I teach it to the little girls who come or I'll ask the ladies who come home do the kolam for me and things like that. But I've lost Shekhar some of that the physical things left me know because I felt that they're all inside of me. I can whenever I want to drop those things, then do it. And the more I think about the more I see them, that's how it is, you know?

Malini Sarma 23:37

So, so lucky. If you were not a dancer, what would you have been?

Sudha Sekhar 23:43

If I were not a dancer? That's it Really? Yeah. Okay. If I were not a dancer,

Malini Sarma 23:52

because I remember you told me that you had written the IAS exam

Sudha Sekhar 23:57

I wanted to be a doctor, really okay. And then I wanted to be an economist. I also, I did my IAS and I could have been an IAS officer after my bachelor's degree in economics. So when I was doing that economics, I wanted to be an economist. Right? The first time I joined college, I did first year science, and I'm going to be a doctor. I think I'd be very good. So my heart was in it. But in two years, when they asked me to dissect an earthworm, I said no. Again, I am a Brahmin and I cannot. The principal talked to me and she said, Why don't you take up arts, you're in the arts anyways, you're well known, do the arts. So I took the arts and I said, Okay, do economics. I did politics. I like politics. And so I did economics and politics. I figured that it could be like, you know, something like Prime Minister and it was family, be part of it and all that because mom used to tell me so many of their stories. So that was that Amma said I must do IAS so I did IAS and I passed. And you know, my subject in the is my essay was about dance, you won't believe me 50 pages about dance

Malini Sarma 25:13

Wow.

Sudha Sekhar 25:16

Stop wrote about it. So that then I was chosen. And then I was invited for an interview to Delhi got the letter. And at the same time we were invited to perform in South Africa. And the same time I got an admission at Montana University in USA. And at the same time Shekhar's parents came to check me out as a prospective bride for and guess who won,

Unknown Speaker 25:49

Knowing Ammama of course,

Sudha Sekhar 25:51

Its time for you to go abroad and carry your culture with you. So then that was the thing I could have been an educator, I could have been a world. I love traveling. I could have been a cultural ambassador,

Malini Sarma 26:05

I think, are all those things. Sudha Aunty. I think I think you're all those things. You're an educator, you're a cultural ambassador.

Sudha Sekhar 26:13

told you, right? I wanted to be and, you know, in the air hostess, but then I looked at myself. No, I'll never make it. So I said, Okay, instead, why don't I be a tourist and Indian tourists to talk about things that way I get to see all of India, right. My whole thing was that I want to see the world God created. Guess who goes around doing that? You?

Malini Sarma 26:38

And I take you with me too

Sudha Sekhar 26:41

Yeah and you and me went to Greece. That was so much fun. Right? should do it again. Yes, this definition would be

Malini Sarma 26:49

yes. You just so tell me the story about you said that. Shekhar uncle knew he knew you before you saw him?

Sudha Sekhar 26:57

Yeah, that was that was another part. See? People ask me constantly that it was all dance all the time performances, schools study. All these things? Where did you When did you ever time? Didn't you have any boyfriends and things like that? And I said, No. I didn't even look at boy. I thought boys would come in the way of my you know, my goal. My pathway. No, I did not. I looked at them. I had three brothers at home. Right. So they were on my brother's friends. So that romance never came up in my heart at that time. So Sekhar used to come in the same double decker bus when I used to go to college, it seems Oh, and I found that after I got married, So Sekhar the same. He used to go to work and his work was same 03 limited bus. O3 limited bus took me to Napeansea road which is where Sofia college was and we passed the Mahalakshmi temple. So I prayed that and then and during the lunch hour, I used to come to the Mahalakshmi temple. And I would chant Lalitha sahasra namam and go around her 15 minutes. Then I knew it by heart by then. And then I used to go back to college. So I didn't worry about eating and all that, you know, I just had a chocolate ice cream was my favorite. That was my lunch. And at that time it was only 8 annas.

Malini Sarma 28:24

Yes.

Sudha Sekhar 28:26

See how much it costs here. Because I felt that it had all the necessary nourishment I needed. And at home mom cook anyways. So that same bus Sekhar used to come by and used to get off at Worli. But when we passed by before we got to Napeansea road. He'd get up there because his office was there and he used to say, who is this girl she wears these long, long earrings. She looks like Muslim to me. She looks like she's from that group. And she's always she knows everything about the world the way she talks to her friends. So then they giggle they talk they think but who is this girl? He always wondered. The his mother told him I'm a very famous dancer. Don't even look that side. They are not even our caliber you know, something like that. And I said, Why did she say something like that to you. Nobody is down or up? Everybody is the same? He said appo tha ellame theriyade illiya neengal ellam rumba panakaran amchuindrum avar chonna But pannum is not important in life. He said, Yeah, you and I knew that but my father didn't know that. He called me vayadi rajam. He nicknamed me that Because I talked so much. And I said, what would you call me such a name. I don't like that name. Why did you call me that? That was what came into my mind. I wrote it. diary, couldn't say no. Right? And that is what it is. If I didn't go one day, I missed the bus or something. He said that day didn't go very well for him. I was very lucky for him. So when his parents wrote and said that this Sudha is available, he said what she's not married yet. Hmm. I said, What do you mean? Get married? Become a housewife for somebody without doing what you want in life. I had certain goals and fulfill them and he said, okay, so are you fulfilled with it? I said, No, I have got more work for you I said and I married him.

He said, this is the kind of person I wanted to marry. I want a person who won't be homesick, but will come and be proud to talk about the culture of the rich culture of India, to all the people change the lives of people.I said I am so happy you got the right person. It was Very, very important to me. But that was the the little kind of encounter, which I did not know. But when I found out about it, I think he went about two inches taller. He waited, and then he got it was nice. Yeah, good.

Unknown Speaker 31:21

Yeah.

Malini Sarma 31:22

So before you got married, you danced for presidents and prime ministers and kings and world leaders and movie stars. You traveled and you educated entertained audiences around the world. So is there anything there? I've seen pictures, you know, with the prime ministers and presidents and everything. So is there any any particular incident that, you know, are the moments that stand out? That are very precious, I'm sure there are lots of them. But so any? anyone, any one particular one that stands out?

Sudha Sekhar 31:53

The most enjoyable ones? Were the ones where when we celebrated festivals of India, and hundred and thousands of peoples around, and you know, like we had Ganesha festivals and Maharashtra celebrated in great, I used to go to the chief minister's house, his mother always want me to come and perform for Ganesha chaturthi day, every year I went to her house and make her happy. I love making old people happy. Y'all gave me their blessings. You know, I loved having those. So I went and performed that and, and in festivals since 5678, I used to go to all these festivals, they dragged me out of my house and take me. And I'd always come back with the prize. And the people in the audience, they would call out and say one gold medal to Sudha , one silver medal one silver plate. All kinds of gifts would come with me after I dance. My father will ask where did you go and get these things from us. They asked me today, I danced and appa would say Paavam nee eniku un thandada. So from that, then he decided to come and watch me. Then he said, you are a good dancer, and I said I know It took you so long. A Mom always wanted this for you. And this is what you're doing. So then he started taking interest and watching over me. And I got a chance to dance for so many people I know. I remember the coronation that I danced for, the Raja of Bhavanagar and that is the first time when it is so how the kings and the Queens during a coronation are treated. And that was Ram Rajya. And remember Ramayana, I did have Bhavayami Raghu Rama for that. Okay, and the whole, the whole city of bhavnagar they all loved it so much because they had just like their King Ram Rajya doing that thing. And they were so happy with that performance. And then we were treated the day there was a huge room, the palace room that we were in and they bought about 400 saris. Wow. And they said what do you want from this? I picked a light blue Benares Sari and my mom said what are you picking? Look it all the gorgeous ones they have brought. I said why dont you pick for me I don't know what to pick for mysel. So she said I thought you have to take only one she said No, they're not bringing loads to take one. Take four or five give it to somebody also. I said No Mom, you left it to her. My mom. She's took off her two gold bangles from her hands. And she gave it to the maharani as a gift.

Malini Sarma 34:39

Wow. Like

Sudha Sekhar 34:41

My father is telling me. She is a Maharani she doesn't need her gold bangles. But look at your mother. She thinks if you're rani, I am a Rani too. to give my gold bangles. At home she says See, I have only two bangles left. I have to go and buy some more. I said Mom What do you have? She says, No, it's a coronation. You have to give gifts you have to donate you have to give. She taught how to be, you know, generous, and to share people what we have and things like that. What stands most outstanding is my arangetram at Mahalakshmi temple. Yes. And hundreds, over 60,000 to 100,000 people were there. Because it was Vijaydashami day. Uh huh. And so Vijaydasami day is such a great day to kondaadify right? So many of those little boys and they were all sitting on trees and everything and watching the whole thing. They had cordoned off area in front of Devi and I danced right there. It was so beautiful with the samudra waves coming towards you. And the whole atmosphere was like I was in heaven, I felt so wonderful never ever forget my arangetram.

Malini Sarma 35:54

I can't I can't believe there were that many people I can't believe that without many people.

Sudha Sekhar 36:00

Wow, that's India's always had a huge population right? Always even then was very heavy. So they were and they were all poor people from the you know, middle class and the lower middle class also they were all there I am middle class too. So we are very well with one another I felt at home without okay. So it was really it when they all came up and talk to me and we don't know each other but it's so friendly. So hospitable. And I was coming out when old thatha he said you have danced for 3.5 hours you must be so hot. Aap ye doodh peejiye He gave me a big of milk boiled with saffron and you know cardamom and what have you rich with I could I can't drink or eat anything after a performance because I'm so hot hot. So I said bahut garam hai babaji, thoda sa deejiye babji, main peeke jaati hoon...nahi nahi nahi aap baitho, Aram Karo PK jao, I sat down there, cooled it down, gave it to me made sure I drank it. And I came and I said, What if this was amritam that was churned in the ocean. What if this was amritam, I should not refuse it. Amma was telling me that is good thought. Always remember when somebody gives you something receive with love And also give what you can back for them, give double that to them back, whatever it is,in kind or in thought or and are in total blessing. What is always make sure that you receive blessing because receiving blessings is very important. Right. So I bless all the children I bless them after the program. Yeah. Because giving and taking is a natural thing in the universe. And the more you give more the goddess is happy. Yes. more than that giving us nice, but it's also nice, because people can give you with love. You can't say no, I don't wantit that will hurt them. Right? So try not to hurt anybody in thought word or deed. That was the program that set my whole life in motion. 1956. It's on my birthday.

Malini Sarma 38:05

What was it? 94 1956 956? Yes. October 4.

Sudha Sekhar 38:14

Yeah, October 4. So that was when it was Friday, I think does it right.

Unknown Speaker 38:19

So I was

Sudha Sekhar 38:20

a huge, huge, amazing day. And Vijaydasami day . So from that day, Vijaydasami became very important to me. And every Vijaydasami day, we used to go to my Masters house. And I would be the last person to perform because I was the most popular in the dance class by then, like 1516. Then I got my Government of India scholarship. And that was another very memorable thing that I had.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Malini Sarma

Malini Sarma

Your Host

Hello. I am Malini. I am a dancer, world traveler and storyteller. I am a hard core fan of chai and anything hot. I am always looking for new adventures and would rather be outside than inside.

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