Sivaraman, Shastry win honors at the Indian Music and Dance Competition in Maryland

The competition has been thriving for more than three decades.

By Sam Prasad Jillella

Amanda Abraham does a dance routine.
Amanda Abraham does a dance routine.

CATONSVILLE, MD: The annual ‘Indian Music and Dance Competition’ could be called the ‘Indian Music and Dance Carnival’, going by its popularity.

Three decades ago, the music department of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and the Academy of Indian Music and Fine Arts (AIMFA) partnered in hosting the annual Indian Music and Dance Competition on Thanksgiving weekend.

Józef Pacholczyk, Ph.D., head of the Music Department of UMBC, and Hamid Hossain, founder and director of AIMFA, initiated the competition in 1982, as part of UMBC’s ethnomusicology program.

Tabla competition: (Left to Right) Souvik  Ghosh, Matthew Poovan.
Tabla competition: (Left to Right) Souvik Ghosh, Matthew Poovan.

Pacholczyk, a pianist and ethnomusicologist, educated at Warsaw Conservatory, Warsaw University, and the University of California in Los Angeles, built the UMBC’s graduate program in ethnomusicology.

Ustad Hamid Hossain hails from a family of extraordinary musicians. He has held teaching positions at Franklin and Marshall College, Dickerson College, and UMBC.

The tradition carried on this year, as a three-day musical extravaganza was held from November 29th-December 1st.

The first competition had 100 competitors, and over the years it has grown to 200. Thousands of visitors and participants come from South Asia, South America, Europe, and from all over the United States, and Canada.

This year’s competition had 245 competitors.  Veena Sivaraman was the winner of the highest number of prizes (three First Prizes and a Second Prize), in the under-18 level. Nandan Shastry, who competed in the under-12 level, won three First Prizes.

Dr. Usha Bhargave was a vocal performer at the meet.
Dr. Usha Bhargave was a vocal performer at the meet. [Photos by Sam Prasad Jillella.]
Indian music and dance learning-centers have sprouted in many places.

In the Washington, DC area and Baltimore, there are now dozens of such centers which are open during after-school hours for children and youth.

Maryland Governor Martin O. Malley, said in a message to the organizers of the music competition: “We are proud to have such strong cultural traditions that bring richness and joy to our neighborhoods, while strengthening our communities. On behalf of Maryland citizens, I commend the Academy of Indian Music, and wish you many more years of success.”

(The full list of prize winners are listed at: (

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