Ananda Mela at Ananda Suveda, Cabantian

Davao City, Philippines

By Didi Rainjita
December 15, 2007

One of the biggest occasions in Ananda Marga schools in the Philippines is Ananda Mela, which means blissful festival. This is the event where children and parents alike can show their talents and have the chance to meet pupils from other Ananda Marga schools. So the big Ananda Marga family is really reflected in this event.

The Ananda Mela started with a motorcade. Various vehicles big and small, personal and jeepney made a long procession around the city proper and created a traffic jam on Cabantian Road before all were safely parked inside Ananda Suveda, the Master Unit about 15 minutes drive from Davao Training Centers. For the first time Ananda Mela was held with big pomp in the master unit. The big clearing and garden in front of the DC Hall with the final touch of decoration with coconut leaves, artificial sunflowers and flags welcomed 300 parents and pupils.Nine AMSAI Pre-schools of Mindanao participated in the event. Each school represented a certain country and the pupils dressed accordingly. So here and there were pupils in Hawaiian tutu dresses of Palm Drive and Kimonos of Spring Valley schools. Chinese-long-dressed pupils of Cabantian mingled with Indian-costumed ones of Digos schools. NHA and Baruganan schools both represented Maharlika and the 3 schools from General Santos: Atis, Alabel and Mateo, dressed in Balinese clothes of Indonesia.

The program was officially started with the opening remark by DSWD representative and the exciting performances were begun by Savitri’s dance troop presenting Mindanao dances which were quite rare to see. With their various xylophone musical instruments, glittering costumes and nimble movement, they brought pride to Maharlikan cultural heritage.

The children did their best in their performances, however with nine schools participating, it was a tough competition. There is a need to be extra good or extraordinary in order to win first prizes. The first competition was cultural dance. The first prize went to Gensan pupils, performing a welcome dance with a sacred procession of a priest guarded by warriors with spears and kris and elaborate costumes and long woolen black hair on the girls. However special prize went to Digos pupils performing Prabhat Samgiita dance. With beautiful coordination and timing, they brought out the sweetness of the song. It was a pity that only one school performed Prabhat Samgiita dance as this was an Ananda Mela occasion. The breeze and the sway of coconut leaves were what Palm Drive pupils impressed on the audience as they danced a Hawaiian dance. They won the third prize.

The dance performances by parents highlighted the contrast between culture and pseudo-culture. There is a need to promote cultural heritage and popularize it among the masses.The chorus competition confirmed all the rhymes and songs the children have learnt. The chorus was delightfully complemented by various props and movements as showed most significantly by some pupils with the opening of lotus flowers and various asanas postures.
Competitions on poems by Nursery, storytelling by Kinder One and declamation by Kinder Two showed how amazingly children could learn when they recited their part in fluent English in a confident way. In storytelling, how they could memorize the story and recite it in front of audience was a wonder. In various ways the pupils performed in storytelling competition. There were actors playing the parts of the story as moving trees, flowers and animals with various costumes and masks while the storyteller told the story to the audience. Other storytellers brought the pictures with them, sat in front of audience and told the story according to the pictures shown.
In Declamation competition, only one pupil stood on stage, recited and acted various characters without props. It must be hard to stand alone where there is nothing to help you to remember. Drawing competition was also held at the back stage, while parents were performing on stage.Ananda Mela surely gave a chance to children to walk and stand on stage, facing hundreds of eyes, to perform. Certainly it is
an unforgettable experience as it needs courage and practice and is such an inspiration to parents and teachers to be better in guiding the children.So we are impatiently waiting for another Ananda Mela, as stated by an ice cream peddlar, cycling all the way up from Buhangin to Cabantian, hoping to be invited again for the occasion.