Girls in resplendent red and white saris enter the stage with a dance recital depicting anguish. An audiovisual screen does part of the storytelling in the background. The tale is about a child being forced into marriage and then becoming a widow. Soon the audience gets to see the young bride-turned-widow being dragged onto the stage. She is again dressed as a bride, a few minutes before being pushed into the pyre where her dead husband lies. The performers carry on with their recital.
Sati, a dance drama performed by the senior students of Ram Mohan Mission High School, was a fit tribute to social reformer Raja Rammohan Roy whose 251st birth anniversary was celebrated by the school through an event at Science City auditorium on May 22.
“Of all the contributions of Raja Rammohan Roy in 18th century India, fighting for the abolition of the practice of sati, or the self-immolation of a woman on her husband’s pyre, was the most significant,” said institute president Sujoy Biswas.
The school — established by Sankar Biswas in 1978 to carry forward the legacy of the great social reformer — had organised a year-long programme to mark Rammohan Roy’s 250th birth anniversary.
Sujoy Biswas (extreme left) and MP Sougata Roy honour Rev. Father Dominic Savio (centre).
Monday’s event marked a close to the celebrations. It began with the chanting of a hymn by the school choir.
According to the school’s tradition, stalwarts Rev. Father Dominic Savio, principal of St Xavier’s College and veteran actor Madhabi Mukherjee were awarded the Raja Rammohan Mission Puraskar for their contributions in the field of education and art, respectively.
Other guests included MP Sougata Roy and several academicians.
“Ram Mohan Mission High School takes part in many social and awareness campaigns. The Raja would have been happy to see that an institution is carrying forward his legacy so diligently. It is a privilege for the students here to grow up surrounded by such ideals,” said Dominic Savio after receiving his award.
Madhabi Mukherjee also expressed her delight to be part of the programme. “A person can only live on, after death, through his good work,” she said.
The audience was taken back in time as the contributions of Rammohan Roy were listed as well as his fight for the emancipation of women. Parallelly, the school’s work, especially to uplift people in the backward areas of Purulia and the Sunderbans, was highlighted.
“For one year, our students have been celebrating the life and contributions of the Raja through walks, art mela and various cultural programmes. We are also working in the remote areas of Purulia, the Sunderbans and, particularly, at eight villages of Sabar tribals. This event is aculmination of all our efforts and ideologies,” said Sujoy Biswas.
The students had been in a frenzy since April, right after their exams. “Everybody was excited about this programme, preparing for it and looking forward to this day,” said Class IX student Swapneel Mondal, who took part in the inaugural song. More than 550 students took part in various performances that included several song and dance numbers. Some former students also dropped in to help out.
The performance ended with a tribute to the Swedish band Abba as the students performed a medley of their hits.