The Atlanta chapter of the Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust presented an extraordinary, 3 day centennial homage to Bharat Ratna Dr.M.S.Subbulakshmi. The curtains went up on the well prepared and organized event on the 3rd of September 2016 with a brief talk on Sankara Nethralaya and its achievements in research, education and cost free community eye care to indigent patients, by Dr. Seshu Sarma, Vice-President, Sankara Nethralaya, Ophthalmic Mission Trust, Inc, the fund raising arm of Sankara Nethralaya in the USA. Dr. Sarma also gave an interesting account about the ‘Mobile Eye Surgical Unit’ (MESU) which performs sight reviving cataract surgeries, totally cost free, right at the doorsteps of patients living in the most remote regions of India, with no access to quality eye care.
This was followed by a warm greeting and welcome to the Rasikas assembled in large numbers and dignitaries by Dr. Rao, President of the Hindu Temple of Atlanta. Speaking on the occasion Chief Guest of the day, Mr. R.Srinivasan, Consul, Indian Consulate, Atlanta, lauded Smt. M. S. for making India and Indians proud by her music. The most touching and inspiring speech of the afternoon however, was the one given by eleven-year old, Raveena Allie, who was born with no eyes. Her life story of being brought up by loving foster parents in the US and working her way up by overcoming her disability to become a honor student in middle school and excelling in innumerable extracurricular activities filled the listeners with a sense of confidence that if one is determined, nothing in life is insurmountable. The audience gave her a standing ovation for her rousing message and indomitable spirit.
This was followed by the main event of the day, an enthralling concert for three hours and more with a generous inclusion of MS Amma favorites by Padmabhushan Sudha Ragunathan and party; the resounding applause and requests for more songs captured the spirit of the day. Dr. Ram Sriram, President of the Carnatic Music Association of Georgia (CAMAGA), made the concluding remarks and a brief review of the concert. Mrs. Anu Nathan, chair of the essay competition being held to highlight the contributions of Smt. M. S. Subbalakshmi, as part of the Centenary celebrations announced the winners for different age groups
The winners of the essay competition were:
1st Place: Neel Krishnan
2nd Place: Anand Krishnan
3rd Place: Maitri Sridhar
1st Place: Nikitha Sridhar
2nd Place: Priyanka Yagneswaran
3rd Place: Shobana Santhanam
1st Place: Nitheyaa Shree
2nd Place: Shashank Ganesan
3rd Place: Shruthi Santhanam
Another recognition being bestowed as part of the Centenary celebration the ‘Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi award’ for years of contribution to Indian classical music was awarded to Smt. Subhashini Krishnamurthy – musician, composer, Vocalist, teacher, and Veena player. Ms. Subhashini was presented with a plaque and a blue silk saree, similar to the one that was popularized by Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi. The awards were given to the winners by Smt. Sudha Raghunathan who spoke admiringly of the winners and their accomplishments.
The second day of the three-day event showcased Atlanta’s local talent. The performers were young children and young adults trained in different schools of Carnatic music by eminent teachers in Atlanta. It was most inspiring to listen to children as young as 6 years of age, rendering compositions made popular by Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi with devotion and dedication.
The last and final day of the three-day event was highlighted by a one-hour video presentation on the life and accomplishments of Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi, put together by the renowned dramatist and director, Sri Syam Yellamraju. The video presentation was followed by group singing of the compositions of the great composer, Sri Annamacharya, popularized by Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi. The performers were local music teachers and musicians. It was a most befitting tribute to the memory of Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi.
At the conclusion of the program,Dr.Sarma thanked her co-trustees of SN OM Trust,Moorthy Rekapalli and Bala Indurti and the President of CAMAGA,Dr.Ram Sriram and all the others who contributed to the 3 day event. She expressed her deep gratitude to all the donors who contributed generously to the Sahasra Nayanam project and the Chitoor Gift of Sight project. She further expressed her sincere appreciation to journalist Sri Mahadev Desai for his excellent coverage of the three-day event and Mr. Ravi Penumarthy for taking superb pictures of the event.