Indigenous Peoples Day in Newton
Newton, Massachusetts turned a long-celebrated but increasingly controversial holiday into a new tradition on Sunday October 11, 2021 with its first annual Indigenous Peoples Day Ceremonial Celebration, replacing Columbus Day and honoring the region’s Native inhabitants with drumming, dance, and ritual.
The Vidyanjali Dancers of New England were invited to be part of the celebrations and presented a classical Bharata Natyam item to show the connection between Hindu traditions and Native cultural values. They began with the "Bhoomi Mangalam" by Pandit Ravi Shankar to invoke the spirits of nature, including earth, water, fire, wind, sky, sun, moon, the planets, life force, the human body, the mind and soul. This was followed by Desh Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman to express joy and gratitude through pure movement. "Our cultures share so many similarities," said Vidyanjali Director Anandini Chandra Sekhar to the audience. "We have a shared respect for the Earth as our mother and our life force, and we believe in the healing power of nature and the need to honor all life as a gift from God."
After their performance, the students of Vidyanjali (including Aanika Seth Mohta, Reeya Wadhwani, Anika Chakravarthy and Anusha Chakravarthy) all had an opportunity to meet the City of Newton's mayor Ruthanne Fuller. Special thanks to Janhavi Wadhwani for connecting us with the organizers of this event.