Lake Mary Life: Ancient Dance

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Her brightly colored garments flowed elegantly, not a hair was out of place, and every movement of Smita Mahajan’s dancing performance was impeccable.

After nine years of training, 14-year-old Smita recently celebrated her graduation solo performance, known as Bharatanatyam. Arangetram in India, in the Lake Mary High School auditorium. Bharatanatyam refers to the classical Indian temple dance that originated in South India 2,000 years ago. Arangetram is the debut of a Bharatanatyam dancer, signifying the girl’s readiness to perform a full solo recital. Before the Arangetram, dancers perform the sacred moves only together with other students of similar skill.

The Bharatanatyam Arangetram is a beautiful and ancient tradition that is celebrated with great fanfare within Seminole County’s vibrant Indian-American community.

“I started learning these dances when I was five years old,” says Smita, a freshman at Lake Mary High School. “After a prayer, the entire performance consisted of eight dances and lasted about two hours.”

Leading up to performance, Smita took four classes a week at the Hindu Temple of Central Florida in Casselberry, with each class lasting up to two hours.

“It involves praying to the gods, and all the dances symbolize what the gods have done in history,” explains Smita, who performed the Bharatanatyam Arangetram wearing different traditional garments of blue, green, red, yellow, and orange imported directly from India.

She wore her hair with flowers braided in, and donned Indian earrings, necklaces, and bangles. Smita also wore a headpiece with a sun and moon on it to represent the day and the night.

Her mother, Shubha, and father, Satish, invited 300 people including friends, family, and members of the Lake Mary community to enjoy the performance and celebrate the family’s milestone.

Smita’s grandparents came from Louisiana, and her aunt and uncle travelled from Ohio to visit with the family, including Smith’s brother, Sunil, a senior at LMHS.

Shubha says that the preparations for the performance felt similar to planning a wedding.

“This has been a dream of mine,” Shubha says. “To have my daughter achieve her graduation is a wonderful feeling for me. It has taken so much dedication to get to this point.”

–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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