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Chitrageet brings International Education Week to a close

The Fralin hosts evening of Indian music, art and cuisine

The University’s International Education Week 2014 presented their capstone event, “Chitrageet,” Friday in a lively evening filled with Indian paintings, classical music and traditional dishes.

The event kicked off with a comprehensive tour of “Realms of Earth and Sky,” an exhibition of 15th to 19th-century Indian paintings currently on display at the Fralin Museum of Art.

Led by Arts & Sciences graduate student Murad Khan Mumtaz, attendees were treated to a historical and cultural overview of how India has participated in different artistic movements. The paintings were arranged in chronological order, ending with a series of works set in the Himalayan hills.

Mumtaz noted the recurring artistic themes throughout the paintings as well as aspects which differentiate one artistic school from another. He chose the “The Slaying of the Conch Demon" as an example, a painting from between 1725-50 depicting the tale of the god Krishna rescuing the son of his teacher from the conch demon.

“There’s an important element within the Indian artistic tradition that comes out in this painting that is of continuous narrative,” Mumtaz said. “To see an image in which you see the entire story being told is a 2,000-year-old tradition or so.”

Attendees could also try a number of different Indian delicacies, such as vegetable samosas, vegetable pakoras and mango lassi — all while watching a series of Indian music and dance performances.

Despite the presence of Western abstract paintings and Aboriginal art on the lobby walls, fourth-year College student Zoe Slepian reconfigured the Fralin’s immediate atmosphere with the Hindustani music from her sitar, a traditional plucking instrument.

Slepian’s performance was followed by a collaborative instrumental work, two dance pieces and a Carnatic vocal performance.

The attendees seemed receptive to third-year Engineering student Vidya Ganesh’s vocal performance, which featured Carnatic music, a classical music form native to South India. Ganesh sang four pieces — one of which was “Bho Shambo,” a Sanskrit-language composition about the lord Shiva as a deity beyond the human comprehension of existence.

“Indian classical music is interesting in that the songs are set to raagas,” Ganesh said. “A raaga is a set of notes that the songs adheres to. One of its purposes is to evoke a certain emotion. [‘Bho Shambo’] has a raaga to evoke a sense of power and strength. Lord Shiva is a god that is known to dance very vigorously and powerfully, so the power is shown in this song.”

Audience members also seemed to respond positively to third-year College student Sheethal Jose’s performance of a Bharatanatyam dance — a classical South Indian dance form. Jose’s elaborate hand movements, combined with her dramatic facial expressions and the rhythmic music, shaped an engaging artistic experience for the audience.

Quynh Nguyen, program coordinator at the Lorna Sundberg International Center, worked with the University chapter of the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth, the Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts and the Fralin to bring “Chitrageet” to life.