The Maithry Dance Dhamaka 2017—a colorful and energetic dance festival showcasing the best dance teams from 11 Bay Area Indian dance schools—raised about $900 through donations and the sale of refreshments. The money will be distributed this year to cancer patients in the state of Kerala, India, and fire victims in Northern California.
The free dance festival, held on Oct. 28, at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe St., Santa Clara, and attended by about 300, was more than a fundraiser. It was an opportunity for members of Maithry, a nonprofit organization, to socialize and perform and view Indian dances. Also, it was an opportunity for the diverse Santa Clara community to learn about classical and non-classical Indian dance forms.
Maithry, which started as a small gathering of about 10 families, now has a mailing list of more than 1,500 members. All have family roots in Kerala—a finger-shaped Indian state at the southwest tip of India on the Malabar Coast—and current roots in Silicon Valley.
“Maithry has been serving the community for over 16 years, and it takes pride in being a socially responsible organization,” wrote Manoh Empranthiri, a Santa Clara resident since 1983 and one of the founding members. “Maithry members gather a few times a year to socialize and network. While having fun, we are also mindful of the less fortunate and always try to find ways to support them.”
Kerala is the most literate state of India with 93.91 percent literacy according to 2011 census figures. The people of Kerala are called Malayalees and their state language is Malayalam. More than half of Malaylees are Hindu, followed by Muslims and Christians.
The Maithry Dance Dhamaka took place during the Hindu celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, which is traditionally celebrated with loud fire crackers. In a play on words, the dance festival was called a dance “dhamaka,” meaning a loud bang in Malayalam.
Festival emcee Aavani Sree is a Milpitas High School junior.
“I feel lucky to be part of this because it’s for a really great cause, and I get the chance to help a couple of great charities,” said Sree. “There are more people dedicated to fundraising in the U.S. than in India.”
“We’re more fortunate here, and we have more opportunities and resources to give back to our community,” said Sree. “In my parents case, Kerala is where they grew up. Schools here encourage us to give back to our communities. It’s engraved in our minds because we’re so fortunate. We should have the mindset of giving back to the people who are not as fortunate.”
“This is an Indian association. We’re part of Indian society with lots of poor patients that can’t afford the cancer treatment,” said Cupertino resident Usha Nair.
On Jan. 20, 2018, Maithry will celebrate “Maithry New Year and India Republic Day” at Santa Clara High School. The celebration is open to the community. Visit www.maithry.org for information.