Fun Times

If the last two volumes of The Connect have given you the impression that Balajians life and SBS Campus is only about serious presentations, guest lecture and classes from 8 to 8 then, it is time to change your perception. This issue of Connect will give you a quick look into the much awaited event of the year – The Aiyaswamy Cultural Festival. Spanning two days, 8 and 9th July, and memories spanning a lifetime the Aiyaswamy Fest was participated in and enjoyed in the best competitive spirit. Here are some news and updates…

DAY 1 : The Battle Begins

A long running tradition at Sri Balaji Society, Pune, the Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition, was held in the Ranganathan Auditorium with a seating capacity of more than 1200, on 8th and 9th July 2017. The Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition was first introduced in the year 2015 before which it was known as the freshers’ party. Except for the name, nothing much has changed. It was conducted, and participated in with same energy, zeal, fervor, and enthusiasm. In fact, the craze and anticipation for the fest amongst the student managers has only increased since then.

Formation of Rivers

Formation of rivers is a unique initiative introduced in the year 2015 and is being followed since then. A ‘river’ is a unit of students organized in a sense similar to that of squadrons in the army with up to 60 freshly joined student managers allocated to each river.

As of now, we have fifteen rivers flowing in the SBS Campus. These fifteen rivers contribute to the ocean of knowledge that is Sri Balaji Society.

Clockwise from top left: 1. R. Alaknanda in a jovial mood, 2. R. Brahmaputra, 3. R. Ganga, 4. R. Yamuna, 5. R. Tapti, 6. R. Saraswati, 7. R. Sabarmati, 8. R. Narmada, 9. R. Mandakini, 10. R. Mahanadi, 11. R. Kaveri, 12. R. Indrayani, 13. R. Godavari, 14. R. Jhelum, 15. R. Krishna

The Events

The Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition sees enrichment of opportunities for the student managers to perform on stage with the addition of new events every year. The events that have been with us since the beginning are: Creative Class Introduction, Solo Singing, Duet Singing, Western Dance, Purab Paschim or Fusion Dance, Folk Dance, and Fashion Show. Points are awarded for each performance. An important thing to be mentioned here is that there are no ‘losers’ in this competition as all participating rivers are awarded with points even if they are ranked lower than their fellows on stage.

The Hogwarts

The theme of this year’s Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition was ‘Hogwarts’, a tribute to the fantasy universe of Harry Potter created by the famous author J.K.Rowling. Each river was allocated one character from the Harry Potter universe. 15 characters were represented, covering popular and not so popular characters, from Colin Creevey to Viktor Krum.

The highlight of the occasion was our beloved Bala Sir who was dressed as Professor Albus Dumbledore, The Headmaster of Hogwarts. Faculty members also played along by dressing up in a wizard or witches’ robes, just for the occasion. Like the Triwizard Cup, the unveiling of the Aiyaswamy Cup caught the focus of every student manager present at the auditorium-the sacred ground where the battle was fought. The student managers hoped to win the coveted Aiyaswamy Cup and were waiting with their hair on edge, for the competition to begin.

From L to R : 1) Dr. (Col) A Balasubramanian dressed as Albus Dumbledore inaugurating the event, 2) The Coveted Cup, 3) An enthusiastic audience

The Beauty Unveils

The Judges

No competition is complete without a judge and thus, a panel of three judges was selected for the occasion. The judges were Mr. Jayant Kelkar, Former Director of the School of Fashion Technology, Pune, Ms. Vinita Deshmukh, Former Senior Editor at The Indian Express and the Consulting Editor of the Corporate Citizen magazine and Prof. Balaji Reddie, a doyen of Quality Management and a senior faculty at Sri Balaji Society associated with it since its inception. As quoted by the judges, it was not easy for them to evaluate all the performances presented by the student managers on the stage as each one of them was brimming with talent.

Who will be the Harry Potter of 2017..? They will decide: 1) Ms. Vinita Deshmukh, Former Senior Editor at The Indian Express, 2) Prof. Balaji Reddie, a doyen of Quality Management and a senior faculty at Sri Balaji Society, 3) Mr. Jayant Kelkar, Former Director of the School of Fashion Technology

The Show Begins

The Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition started on 8th July with Bala Sir addressing the gathering. Music was the primeval of the day. The day started on a musical note with a singing performance by Prof. Balaji Reddie. The cultural competition was formally started by unveiling of the Aiyaswamy cup and lighting a lamp, followed by ‘Ganesh Vandana’ dedicated to the remover of obstacles- Lord Ganesha.

Invoking the Remover of Obstacles: Ganesh Vandana

Creative Class Introduction

Following the footsteps of a long running tradition in the Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition, the first event of the day was ‘Creative Class Introduction’ which saw participation of every student manager of each river, on stage. The rivers introduced themselves in a way they deemed fit for introducing themselves in line with the theme or framework chosen by them, within a time limit of 15 minutes. Themes chosen ranged from the contemporary ‘Swachch Bhaarat Abhiyaan’ to ‘life on a railway station’.

Judging this event was a difficult task. But after evaluating the performances, student managers of River Yamuna won the first place followed by Kaveri and Alaknanda in the second and third places, respectively.

Clockwise from top left corner: 1) Winners of Class Introduction – River Yamuna, 2) 1st runner up – River Kaveri, 3) 2nd runner up – River Alaknanda, 4) Sagar Manthan by River Kaveri, 5) Shiv Taandav by River Yamuna, 6) Dance performance by River Alaknanda

Stir up some music: Virtuoso

Introduced this year, ‘Virtuoso’ provided an opportunity for the student manager with a talent for music to perform on stage with a musical instrument such as tabla, guitar, drum set, or any other digital or app based musical instruments on computers and tablets within a given time limit of five minutes. The event was won by the River Ganga with Rivers Sabarmati and Tapti securing the second and third position in the event respectively.

Some scintillating performances at Virtuoso

The second event was followed by a lunch break, a well-deserved repast for the power packed performances. However, the lunch only filled the appetite for food leaving the student managers hungry for entertainment as they looked forward to witness the reservoir of talent present within their fellow rivermates on stage.

Do we enjoy our food? No, We Simplyy Lovve it!

Wake up the Michael Jackson within: Western Dance

The third event of the day was 'Western Dance’. The participants had the liberty to present a dance performance on a theme of their choice within an allotted time slot of six minutes. Each river was represented by six student managers who gave their heart’s best performance. The auditorium was enlivened with non-ceasing cheers as they beheld the performance on stage. It was surprising to see that the student managers displayed such exceptional skill and managed to put up such power packed performances with just two days’ practice. The event was won by River Jhelum with Rivers Godavari and Alaknanda coming a close second and third, respectively.

From L-R: 1) Winners of Western Dance - R. Jhelum, 2) 1st runner up - R. Godavari, 3) 2nd runner up – R. Alaknanda

East is East & the West is West, & the twain shall meet at SBS: Purab Paschim

The last event for the day was ‘Purab Paschim’. The event, which is a fusion of sorts, connects the western end with the traditional beginning of the dance spectrum. Various Indian dance forms such as Bharatnatyam and Mohiniyattam were blended with western dance forms such as hip hop, salsa, and other dance forms on stage. The performances exhibited by the student managers were carefully mixed together so that each dance form complements the other like a confluence on stage. The audience was enthralled with this heady cocktail of talent and set the auditorium alive with their enthusiastic cheers and claps. Student managers of River Sabarmati were the proud winners of the event with Rivers Jhelum and Mandakini racing to second and third places, respectively. With the conclusion of this event, the first day of the Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition came to an end setting free the student managers to their respective rooms for a well-deserved break.

Colourful performances at Purab Paschim. Clockwise from top left: 1) Winner - R. Sabarmati, 2) 2nd runner up - R. Mandakini, 3) a performance by R. Mandakini, 4) 1st runner up - R. Jhelum

DAY 2 : The Conclusion

Charged with even more energy and enthusiasm, and an even stronger will to take the Cup home, the student managers marched into the events of the second day. The events of the day began with an addressal by our beloved Bala Sir as he applauded the dedication and hard work put forth by Balajians in the competition and at the same time identified scope for further improvement for the next events.

Gaana Saath Saath: Duet Singing

The first event of the day, ‘Duet Singing’ saw representation by a male and a female student manager from each river. The participants complemented their performance with props, background dancers, and live music performed by their river mates on stage. Rivers Mandakini, and Jhelum won the first two positions while the third position was tied between the Rivers Indrayani and Brahmaputra.

Clockwise from left: 1) Winner - R. Mandakini, 2) 1st runner up - R. Jhelum, 3) 2nd runner up - R. Indrayani

Dancing to Desi Beats: Folk Dance

After listening to the melodies, it was time to view some dance moves representing the very best from the various regions of India. The second event of the day, ‘Folk Dance’ saw a harmonious combination of talent, folk dance moves, props and instruments on stage. The event saw representation from the far east to the vibrant west of India and from the frigid north to the energetic south of the country. The participants delivered seven minutes of stellar performances. River Tapti was the winner of the event.

Clockwise from left: 1) Winner - R. Mandakini, 2) 1st runner up - R. Jhelum, 3) 2nd runner up - R. Indrayani

Sing us a Song, You’re the Piano man: Solo Singing

After the energetic dance performances by all the fifteen rivers, it was time to soothe our nerves with some melodious music and thus started the Solo Western Singing Event, where each river represented by a student manager performed for 5 minutes. Performers came in with strumming guitars complementing their voices. Not just voice modulation, they were also adjudged on their stage presence. To set the mood, participants also had dancers and skits in the background to give a wholesome entertainment. The crowd sang along and River Jhelum was declared the winner, followed by Rivers Kaveri and Narmada in second and third position.

From L to R: 1) Winner from R. Jhelum, 2) 1st runner up from R. Kaveri, 3) 2nd runner up from R. Narmada

Fashion ka Jalwa: The Fashion Show

Post lunch, the student managers gathered back in the auditorium to witness the most awaited event of the cultural competition, ‘The Fashion Show’. A flagship event of the cultural festival in Sri Balaji Society, the fashion show is one of the most anticipated events where enthusiasm on and off the stage is at its pinnacle. It is also important as it carries maximum weightage in the competition. Student managers designed their own fashion in sync with the chosen theme. Originality, and self-designed costumes act as brownie points in favour of the River. The event was won by student managers of the River Sabarmati with Rivers Narmada and Alaknanda coming second and third in the event.

Some clicks from the Fashion Show: 1) R. Narmada, 2) & 4) R. Alaknanda, 3) & 5) R. Sabarmati

Surprise, Surprise : Kuchh Anokha

Due to a large number of events ending in ties, a new, extempore event was announced to decide the ultimate winner. Thus, a new event, ‘Kuchh Anokha’ came into being. The essence of this event was to present something unique, something which stands out from the rest, and something which has never been seen on stage till now. From sand art to extreme dance performances along with feats of strength involving motorcycles, and display of martial arts, the event witnessed many unique performances on stage. The event was won by River Sabarmati with River Jhelum coming second. Interestingly, the tie breaker ended in a tie again, with the third position being shared between Rivers Krishna and Yamuna.

From L to R: 1) Performance by R. Sabarmati, 2) Bike stunts by R. Jhelum, 3) Colourful performance by R. Yamuna

Compere

Despite energetic performances, the comperes made their presence felt. The judges awarded the winning points to the comperes of River Indrayani, a tribute to their outstanding presence of mind, humor, time management, and wit as they announced, discussed, and presented their fellow river mates during events with Rivers Yamuna and Brahmaputra coming second and third in the event respectively.

From L to R: 1-3) Comperes of R. Indrayani in various get up

The Final Judgment

The proud winner of the Coveted Aiyaswamy Cup this year, was River Sabarmati while R. Jhelum  was the first runner up. One must admit the competition was fierce and the two winners ran a neck to neck competition. There was a mere difference of 0.05 point in their scores. River Sabarmati not only won the coveted Cup, but also a cash prize of INR 1, 50,000, and an all-expenses paid trip for the River to flow all the way to Goa and back, and not to mention the hearts of the audience that they won!

River Jhelum was awarded the runner up award and a cash prize of INR 75,000. Along with the participants on stage, the unsung heroes of the day – the systems team, the logistics team, and the Central Cultural Coordinators (CCD) team were appreciated for their effort and dedication for making the Aiyaswamy Cultural Competition a success.

From top to bottom: 1) Dr. (Col) Balasubramanian with the winner’s cheque, 2) River Sabarmati in a jubilant mood after winning the Cup, 3) River Jhelum with their 1 st runner up cheque

And thus came to an end two supremely fun filled and energetic days at campus and life returned to classrooms and workshops. But hey, wait, this is not the end but a beginning of another month full of festivities and fervor in Campus. To catch up the same, stay Connected!