IIM Lucknow’s Varchasva – Ayodhya verdict did not dampen this cultural show

That Ayodha was just about 135 kms away and bursting with police security and underlying tension on September 30, was hardly visible at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow’s cultural festival — Varchasva held between October 1 and 3, 2010. The three-day show was a pot pourri of cultural, sports, fashion and musical events, all jammed together. Professor Ajay Garg, Chairman of Students Affairs and Professor Ashwani Kumar, Chairman of the PGP program, who inaugurated the festival, appreciated the outstation teams who turned up in good numbers despite the timing of the Ayodhya verdict. The numbers definitely added to the noise and enthusiasm of the three day fare.

While the cultural events and stage plays were held more during the first part of the three day fare, the sports and music shows took over the second part. The 185 acre campus bubbled with students from all across the country. While the campus is normally a quiet place of intense academic activity on other days, Varchasva seemed as if it was infusing a whole new festive joy into the campus.

One of the big hits of the show was Nukkad the street plays that saw teams from 11 colleges dazzle the audience with their spontaneity. Thought provoking themes such as Education System: How easy it is to build IITs, IIMs these days without basic infrastructure (presented by the winning team of IET) and Indian attitude of Chalta hai with special focus on Commonwealth Games (LBSIM Runner-up) were some of the best seen for a long time. The event was adjudicated by Lalit Singh Pokaria and Sangam Bahugun, well known in the Lucknow theatre circle. While every team did its very best, the honours went to IET, Lucknow followed by LBSIM Delhi. Other participating teams, included LBS, IET and BIMTech among others.

In the much awaited Kavi Sammelan, the stalwarts, Kumar Viswas, Surendra Sharma and Ved Prakash enthralled the audience with their ingenious poetry and razor sharp wit. The sporting events started with the football match between IIM Lucknow and IMS, Lucknow, which was won by IIM Lucknow. While this was for those who loved the lush green exteriors of the campus, there was another event of extensive body language and voice modulation that was running at feverish pace in the hallowed portals of the IIM Lucknow academic block. With more than 30 participants, the JAM event the IIM teams from Lucknow & Rohtak took the top honors.

Perhaps the most fun event of the festival was the informality of the events. No one seemed to care about who won or lost, it was the participation that mattered. With new and creative events conjured by the organizers, events such as ’30 seconds to fame, Wrestling, Kite Flying and Mono acting stole the evening. Given the size of the campus and the number of activities in execution, the running around would have been a fitness freaks dream come true.

Not to forget that in the whole business of events, the food factor was not left out. A plethora of stalls that lined the impeccable roads in the campus was a foodies dream come true. Be it some delectable nawabi biryani or some hot, freshly made pizzas, the stalls provided a great break.

The intriguing thing about Varchasva is that the sports championships and the cultural nights co-exised beautifully making the festival a very unique event. The sports championships saw the likes of IMS Lucknow University, LBSIM, IIM Rohtak, IIM Indore and IIM Lucknow battle it out for top honours across cricket, tennis, badminton, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, snooker, carom and chess (about as exhausting as one could imagine!). While the cricket and football championships saw IIM Lucknow thrash the other teams by wide margins, the badminton championships were closely fought with multiple agonies and referrals. It was especially encouraging to see the young and first batch of students from IIM Rohtak put up a great fight across all the events only going to prove that IIM students can conjure up magic independent of however new their institution is.

The other event that saw crowds throng the venue was the fashion show and the choreography events. The choreography required teams to pick up a prop and use that for the performance and there was little doubt that these young students had spent sleepless hours in their preparation. The fashion show saw participants dress up in Indian cultural attire to display the intricacies of the great Indian marriage.

With the first two days reserved exclusively for competitions, sports competitions and cultural contests, the third day was a musician’s dream. IIM Lucknow’s cultural and sports extravaganza drew to a grand close on the October 3 with a rock show by Mrigya and their mesmerizing fusion. Dr Kumar Vishwas and Surendra Sharma enthralled the audiences by their exhilarating poetry on the first day. The Wadali brothers engaged the students coming from various institutes with some of the best Sufi songs ever. On the third day, the campus saw fusion band Mrigya performing live. Mrigya’s music is soulful and deeply touching and they brought together what they call “music and instruments of world harmony”.

One would normally expect a musical night at any University festival to be replete in jarring music resulting in older folks shying away. Mrigya however appealed to all — the very young to the very old and set in the backdrop of the IIM Lucknow’s sprawling green convocation grounds, the experience was no less than enchanting. One only wished that the entire thing could be replayed again and again until saturation given the exhilarating experience of listening to the beauty of the Violin, the tabla, the Bass, Keyboard, guitar and drums come together to uplift and enchant.

Of course, IIM Lucknow did do not forget Mahatma Gandhi in the whole din. October 2, the second day of the festival began with IIM Lucknow students paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi. A student dressed up in the traditional Gandhi attire was the cynosure of the early morning opening to the celebrations.

Although everyone would have wished for more and the IIM Lucknow students were more than averse to conclude the weekend of festivities, the Cultural Secretary of IIM Lucknow Praveen Kumar summed the feeling up nicely. “True, all of us would like to go back and experience Varchasva 2010 all over again. But we have a bigger task ahead of us. We are leaving behind a legacy for our juniors who I am certain will take this cultural and sports festival to greater heights. Varchasva 2010 may be over for now but we have already started putting together team to plan Varchasva 2011. 2010 may draw to a close but 2011 is not very far away!” Talk about planning in advance!

The author Aditi Roy is a student of IIM Lucknow’s PGP class of 2012.

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