For Bharatnatyam prodigy Sairi Rahangdale, dance is not just about name, fame and money. It’s also about changing the lives of underprivileged children for the better.
The shy 13-year-old spends all her earnings from dance performances on providing books, bags and uniforms to poor children living in her neigbourhood. She also teaches the nuances of the Bharatnatyam to the children of the nearby slums.
Sairi manifested her innate talent for dance at a very young age. At the age of four, when most children have just started walking confidently, this little girl started matching her steps accurately to the beats of music.
It was at a school function where little Sairi outshone senior dancers that her parents, Prakash and Meeta Rahangdale, noticed her developing an interest in classical dance. Convinced about her talent, they encouraged her to pursue Bharatnatyam. Sairi’s talent bloomed under the expert guidance of her dance teacher and soon she had mastered many dance routines.
Over the years, Sairi has performed in more than 200 programmes across India, bagging many awards including the prestigious Kalashree Award, Rohilkand Award, Panchratna Award and Nrityashree Award.
In Chhattisgarh, she is a regular performer at the Chhattisgarh Rajyotsav, the Bhoramdev Mahatsov and the Rajim Kumbh.
Talking to TBI , Sairi’s mother Meeta Rahangdale says,
“From a very young age, Sairi has been concerned about how she could help the poor on the streets. As soon as she started earning money from stage performances, she expressed her desire to spend it on helping the poor children living in the vicinity. As parents, we were delighted and supported her in this noble cause.
Today, we try to do whatever we can for the kids of the nearby slum. Earlier, Sairi used to directly donate her earnings to street kids. However, today we help Sairi buy books, stationery and school bags that she distributes among the kids.”
A class 9 student of Raipur’s Salem School, Sairi has recently started free dance training for slum children who are interested in dance. The soft-spoken 13-year-old says,
“I am lucky to have the opportunities and resources to nurture my talent. When I see underprivileged kids who don’t have the same, it makes me want to help them in whichever way I can. It makes me very happy to share my things with those who really need it.
However, I want to do more for the needy. I aspire to be a doctor and wish to open a hospital that helps them. I also wish to open an old age home for abandoned elderly where they can live a life of dignity.”Partner Story#MGChangemakers - Episode 2: THE 21-YEAR JOURNEY OF CHANGE | Driving India Into Future
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The determined girl has already started working on her dreams.
She makes time to regularly visit old age homes and spend time with senior citizens there. She also insists that her parents not spend any money on fireworks during festivals and instead feed street children and those in nearby orphanages. Sairi also ensures that the weekly dance classes she conducts at home for the slum children come with a free lunch prepared by her mother. In all these initiatives, Sairi is whole-heartedly supported by her proud parents who believe that the happiness of their family lies in their daughter’s satisfaction.
The difference Sairi has made in the lives of the children she helps can be seen in their words of appreciation for their little teacher. Her grateful students say that Sairi and her family have helped them buy much-needed books and school uniform.
Picture for representation only. Source
One of them says,
“I have four siblings and my father, a rickshaw puller, cannot support our education. We are able to meet our educational requirements only due to Sairi’s help.”
Others who attend Sairi’s free dance classes say that she is responsible for their burgeoning interest in dance.
“Thanks to Sairi, we have also performed in a small stage show. We are passionate about dance and wish to make this our career. We can’t afford the fees for professional training, so we have started learning the basics from her,” they add.
Determined to do more, Sairi says that she wants to help them get more opportunities for stage performances and is working towards the same. On a more personal note, Sairi’s favourite hobbies are learning classical dance, listening to music and participating in social work. Encouraged by her parents, she is currently pursuing diplomas in both Bharatnatyam and classical music.
Asked if there is a message she wants to give children who look up to her, the very talented Sairi Rahangdale says,
“We are the future of this country. If we have more than enough to fulfill our needs, its our responsibility to share them with those who aren’t as lucky. So please go out and do whatever you can for those who need our support. Sometimes, a little help is all they need to change their lives.”
You can follow Sairi through her Facebook page here.