By Amit Sarwal and Jitarth Jai Bharadwaj
Mrs Narmatha RAVICHANDHIRA has been awarded OAM of the Order of Australia in the General Divison for service to the arts in music and dance.
Guru Srimathi Narmatha Ravichandhira is the Founder and Artistic Director of Bharatha Choodamani Australia, School of Indian Classical Dance and Sruthi-Laya Kendra (Australia), School of Indian Classical Music; Co-Artistic Director, Academy of Indian Music and Cultural Studies Australia; and Victorian Co-Coordinator, Melbourne Chapter, Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (Spic Macay).
For Mrs Ravichandhira it is the achievements and success stories of cross-cultural communities and alumni who have benefited from her teaching and mentoring that motivate her. She says:
“It gives me immense pride and happiness to undertake more compositional and choreographic work. On each occasion, it is indeed a very proud and humbling experience not only for me but also to see audiences appreciate my work.”
Coming from a humble background in India to Australia in 1992, Narmatha Ravichandhira’s story is an inspiration to everyone across the country and globally. She has successfully reached beyond the Indian community to coach several students from their inception to presenting a full-length debut recital.
Mrs Ravichandhira says that she takes it as a challenge to coach, develop and raise the profiles globally of second and third-generation Australians who are predominantly new to music and dance.
She was the first to raise the profile of Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam) at the Victorian State School Spectacular in 2013, where she provided training for her students. They were selected to perform at this highly competitive event held at the Hisense Arena for over 10,000 audiences.
She is excited and extremely delighted to be recognised by an Order of Australia honour.
“It is a great honour and privilege. I would especially like to thank my parents, my family members, my esteemed gurus (teachers) and associates who have helped and guided me. And to those who thought my contribution is worthy – thank you too!”
Mrs Ravichandhira is particularly proud of developing and promoting new music and dance repertoire in Australia and NZ─both in performing arts and in research, through her expertise in carnatic vocal, carnatic violin and bharatanatyam (South Indian classical dance).
She has performed at prominent venues in Srilanka, India, UK, France, NZ and Australia, including the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne Concert Hall and music departments of Monash University and the University of Tasmania.
Mrs Ravichandhira’s contributions include performances at major fundraisers for World Vision, Oxfam Australia, the Lions Club and the JET Australia Foundation (2009), Mental Health Foundation Victoria (2018), PNSS Charitable Trust projects for social causes during pandemic times (2021) and a new Dance Musical work for Vakrathunda Vinayagar Temple Fundraiser (2022).
More than 500 of her students have benefited directly from Mrs Ravichandhira’s leadership, coaching and mentoring over the past 30 years. Since graduating from her institutions, many Australians have continued on to teach their own students.
On 26 January, Governor-General David John Hurley, AC, DSC, FTSE, announced 2023 Australia Day Honours and Awards for 1047 Australians. This includes awards in the Order of Australia (General and Military Divisions), meritorious awards and recognition for distinguished and conspicuous service.
On this occasion, Governor-General Hurley awarded 736 recipients of awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia (6 AC, 47 AO, 177 AM and 506 OAM). He said:
“Congratulations to the outstanding Australians recognised in today’s Honours List. The recipients have had a significant impact at the local, national and international level and are, quite simply, inspiring.”
The Governor-General has prioritised ensuring the Order reflects the diversity of our community. There are 736 awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia, with 48 per cent for women and 45 per cent for service to local communities. With 354 awards, this is the highest percentage of female Order of Australia recipients in an honours list since the introduction of the Australian honours system in 1975.