21 September 2013 was indeed a very important day for Sapna Attavar, resident of South Delhi Apartments, Sector 4, Dwarka. A divine opportunity came Sapna’s way when Guru Syed Sallauddin Pasha, Founder-Director Ability Unlimited Foundation offered Sapna an opportunity to perform with his disciples – all differently-abled children – at Rashtrapati Bhavan auditorium in the august presence of Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

The programme by the troupe – a unique dance performance – lasted little over an hour. The auditorium was filled with a truly enlightened audience, about 450 connoisseurs of art and culture. The programme comprised Sufi dance on Wheels, Bharatanatyam on Wheels, Yoga on Wheels and a touching depiction of Bhagwad Gita on Wheels. Sapna, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer under the tutelage of Guru Smt. Kanaka Sudhakar, mingled well with the boys who were on wheelchairs, and the girls, all of them speech and hearing impaired. Sapna was overwhelmed interacting and coordinating with those whom we mistakenly perceive as ‘handicapped’ or ‘challenged’ or ‘disabled’, but who in fact are endowed with limitless ability and unbounded passion to excel. ‘It was truly a humbling experience for me’ says Sapna. ‘For me now, the wheel chair is no more a symbol of disability, rather it is a symbol of unlimited ability and immense potential, provided one has the right attitude. Dancing with the girls who heard no music and could hear no applause of the audience, Sapna says ‘At times I started thinking whether it is these children who are challenged, or so-called normal children like me, constrained as we are, with our attitudes, mindsets and outlook’.

The grand event showcased not only the talent of the dancers, but more importantly exhibited how the medium of dance can promote national integration, how Indian Classical Dance and Indian Culture can lead to good health; and how people can overcome all odds to succeed in their passion, thus leading enriching lives.

‘I had seen the Rashtrapati Bhavan several times, but only from outside. Entering the Rashtrapati Bhavan is in itself a privilege which everyone aspires for, but only a few achieve. Performing at Rashtrapati Bhavan – and that too in the very presence of the Hon’ble President of India was beyond even my wildest dreams’, says an excited Sapna. ‘It was indeed a chance of a lifetime’ she said, as she expressed gratitude to Guru Pasha for the golden opportunity.

Terming it a rare privilege and honour to be a part of Guru Pasha’s team, Sapna, a final year student Jesus & Mary College, Delhi University also mentions that Guru Pasha has dedicated three decades of his life towards the cause and care of persons with disabilities. He has done the noble work of effectively making physically and psychologically challenged persons lead independent, innovative and enabling lives. Through innovative methodology, direction and choreography, he has brought hope, confidence, and dignity – to people with disabilities across the globe.

In her moment of glory, Sapna did not forget to express heartfelt gratitude to her Guru, Kanaka Sudhakar who has held her hand and guided her through the journey of Bharatanatyam over eleven long years; and helped her explore the infinite ocean of this ancient Indian art.

Each of the artistes was individually awarded a Plaque and a Cash Award by the Hon’ble President himself. Photos show Guru Syed Salauddin Pasha’s troupe with Hon’ble President of India. (Sapna is the girl seen standing extreme right); and a jubilant Sapna receiving a memento from Hon’ble President of India.