Amitabh Sharma, Contributor
Under a starlit, cool night, beats of Bollywood music filled the air, as the dancer took centre stage, exuding neatly choreographed moves complete with the telltale fluid movements of the body, leaving those present in awe.
It was a commendable effort by self-taught Je'Ann Murray, a student of Hindi Club, who went on to complete the show by doing a medley, dancing on Jump for Jamaica, a Jamaica50 song from Canada.
She was among numerous others, who received accolades for their efforts at the Hindi Day celebrations at the Indian High Commission in Kingston.
"I watched a Bollywood movie, and I was inspired to do a dance. I got both the songs from YouTube and practised," said Murray.
The participants exhibited their talent and, above all, enthusiasm and zeal to showcase what they have learnt in the Hindi Club by singing songs and dancing to the tunes of popular Hindi film music.
"The genesis of teaching goes to 1991, when it was thought to popularise Hindi, which lead to the formation of Hindi Club in 2004," said Dr Sitaram Poddar, founder of the club.
Over the years, Dr Poddar informed, the club has strived to popularise the language, which is one of the top-five most spoken languages in the world, and the Indian culture.
"Today, the Hindi Club is a striving example of the mottos of Jamaica and India - 'Out of many one people' and 'unity in diversity' respectively," said Anil Saxena chargé d'affaires at the Indian High Commission on the occasion.
"It is largely through the efforts of Dr Poddar that the Hindi Club has blossomed into a vibrant and thriving institution which is very popular among the Indian Diaspora youth."
"Hindi is totally different," said Charlene Johnson, a second-year student of the Hindi Club. "It has a beautiful tone and mystique to it."
Johnson, who has been driven to learn Hindi after she visited India in 2008 noted, "My friends, although they spoke English, I was curious to know what they were talking about. Though I got a gist, I didn't think that was enough, so it was imperative to learn the language.
interest and personal
"For me it is both interest and personal development, and since Hindi is different from other languages, it is like putting a puzzle together I have learnt to analyse things better."
Murray, a third-year MPhil student at the department of chemistry, University of the West Indies, said she has a fascination for learning languages. "I was apprehensive that I might not be good in Hindi, but I have learnt to appreciate it."
"It is a confluence of culture," said Dr Poddar. "We try to expose the students to Indian culture and food."
Murray, for one, is also tantalising her taste buds as she learns to master Hindi. "I am in love with samosas (an Indian snack, which is a deep-fried triangular pastry with a savoury filling of spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, ground lamb or chicken)." she professed, "and the way vegetables are cooked, I will start loving vegetables."
"Jamaica is home to 70,000-plus members of the Indian Diaspora. and while integrating themselves in the Jamaican society, they have been very keen to preserve and promote the Indian heritage, their language, culture, including rituals and other Indian lifestyle their forefathers brought with them," said Saxena.
But the language's popularity transcends boundaries, where 70 to 80 per cent students are local Jamaicans, Dr Poddar said.
Both Murray and Johnson are keen on mastering Hindi.
"It creates an opportunity for bilateral and international relations," said Johnson. And Murray would like to go to India one day. "I would like to go to India to experience everything wholesomely, " she said.
The Hindi Club meets every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m to 12 noon at Club India, Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston. More information on the classes can be had from Dr Poddar at email@example.com or calling 977-4964.