Arangetram Blues During the Pandemic

By Dr. Maha Gingrich

Summer 2020 and Winter 2020 would have been filled with arangetrams (dance graduations), and its grand preparations that mimic weddings along with student and teacher rehearsals, and stamina practices, just to name a few. For the first in my lifetime, we are in an unknown twilight zone.

Instead of preparing for the graduations at warp speed 10 (I am a Star Trek fan, so sorry I had to use the language to express the speed of life), here we are - lost in space. Some students and parents decided to move forward with the ceremonies without the audience using online applications.

Some decided to wait with faith and hope for a day of celebration with their family and friends.

Arangetram is a monumental task as difficult as planning weddings. Now with the uncertain times, I am more concerned about my students than the event itself. They worked hard and were ready to meet the challenges of the one and only arangetram day. All the excitement and hard work came to a hard stop. This is a very challenging and sometimes depressing times for these students who have been training almost all their life for this event. It is like training for Olympics to find out the Olympics have been cancelled. Please talk to the kids and make sure they are ok. Listen to their feelings and concerns. They need us now more than ever before.

As parents, irrespective of whether you are planning a virtual celebration or in-person celebration, I have a few suggestions for organizing this very important and once in a lifetime event. I thought I will share 10 most important planning tips with all the readers just in case you are also thinking of planning an arangetram in the future or know of someone who may be planning. In my opinion, the key to a successful arangetram is planning, planning and planning.

This planning includes many things such as dance practices in person or virtual, setting the date, finding a venue to accommodate your expected audience during these times, invitation cards or evites, budgets, ordering costumes (as India is open now), planning (boxed) lunches and dinners etc. If you are anything like me, I am not good at asking for help from anyone. Here are my TEN major suggestions:

Plan for the event in advance and have a budget limit in mind. Start saving as soon as you can. Do not postpone anything for later, as Murphy's Law may take over. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

It is a major event in the student's life and the family's life. There is a lot of pressure for the parents to perfect this event. Do not compete with others. Find the level that is good for you and do your best.

Set the date and book the venue first. After you book the venue, plan invitations/evites, costumes, decorations, guest list, menu for the reception etc.

Number of attendees should match your venue. Make sure you know the capacity of the auditorium and match it with your guest list. Cut down or add to the guest list as needed. (During COVID times, cut the list in half to invite and find a venue with double the capacity). Remember to gather the email or physical addresses of your guests well in advance.

Book your photographer and the videographer in advance. Write up a contract if you wish. Set up your expectations with their technological capabilities for a virtual show if needed and be very clear about your event needs.

It is a stressful time not only for parents but also for the student. An arangetram is the culmination of many years of training, investment, and hard work. Let the student focus on the dance. The student rises to a new level of performance, and moreover, develops the discipline to achieve a long-term goal. Student must meet many expectations and it is not easy for them. Help the student to relax and keep them engaged with rehearsals.

Take some time off for the event. Do not do what I did by working all the way to the arangetram day. You will be guaranteed to stress out. Make sure you take at least a week or two off before the event and take a couple of days off after the event to recoup and get your house back together.

It may also be the time for a huge family gathering if times allow. Your house could be full of guests with different needs. Couple of days before the event, you cannot cook and clean or even let them cook as they do not know your house. Make sure you understand their needs and plan ahead to arrange for food either by catering or by asking your friends to send a major dish or two to help you.

Parents must seek help from close friends and delegate the work. I was blessed with many good friends who literally taught me to seek and accept help. Assign tasks to friends and delegate clearly and reaffirm the duties a week before the event.

Most important of all, enjoy the arangetram. It will never come back again!

For questions or comments contact Maha via e-mail at: