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No river is bigger than the grit of this Kathak danseuse to clean it

Dancer-poet and eco warrior Arushi Nishank shares about her passion for depolluting rivers, and combining this cause with her training in Indian classical arts.

art and culture Updated: Jul 11, 2019 17:09 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Arushi Nishank,Kathak,Ganga
Kathak dancer Arushi Nishank has been working for the cause of cleaning rivers since 18 years.

Performing artists often take up social or environmental causes through their art. And then there are some artists who go beyond the stage to devote themselves to these causes. Delhi-based Kathak danseuse Arushi Nishank is one such personality, who has been leading the cause of cleaning our rivers since 18 years.

“If we all come together, and clean whichever river is near us, then we will definitely achieve our goal. And, the government must impose a penalty on those who pollute the rivers.”

Nishank is an active promoter of Namami Gange Mission and Sparsh Ganga Campaign. These projects were conceived to clean river Ganga and raise awareness among people, towards the rising pollution in rivers. “When Hanuman had to go to Lanka to find Sita, he didn’t know what powers he had. The counseling he got then was like a wake-up call. We give such wake-up call to people so that they come forward to clean our rivers. We have also collaborated with 80 colleges of Delhi University, and take their students on drives to clean the Yamuna. Even in foreign countries, we have worked with volunteers to clean the rivers there. So, it’s a global movement of sorts that we have put together to save our rivers. I believe that no river is bigger than our grit... If we all come together and clean whichever river is near us, then we will definitely achieve our goal. And, the government must impose a penalty on those who pollute the rivers,” opines Nishank, who is also an entrepreneur and a poet with two published works.

Nishank, however, didn’t envision that she will multitask so much. In fact, even taking up classical dance wasn’t on her mind, but says that it all happened as she grew up. She recalls, “I used to be very fat and chubby in my school days, and was a student jisko dance group se bahar nikal diya jata tha. My dance teacher thought I couldn’t dance well because of my weight. After moving out from that school, I received training for about 10 years — including learning at Banasthali Vidyapith, and getting to know the integral facts of Kathak from Pt Birju Maharaj. In fact, it was after this that I thought why to perform the same old things, and introduced Sufiana Kathak, and even performed on compositions of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Once when I was touring for SPIC MACAY and happened to visit my school for a recital, my teacher came to tell me ‘You are performing well’. When I asked if I’m good enough now to be taken back in the school’s dance team, my teacher got teary-eyed.”

Nishank feels grateful to have a supporting family, which allows her to work for the larger cause. She has actually combined her passion for rivers and love of dance. “I have even performed a Kathak ballet titled Ganga Avataran, which narrates the story of how Ganga left her abode in heaven and came down to Earth. I’ve performed this in more than 15 countries. But, how we treat our river makes me think: Is this what Ganga came down to Earth for?”

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First Published: Jul 11, 2019 17:09 IST