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About Us

PRACHEEN KALA KENDRA
Organisation Dedicated to Art and Culture

(A) INTRODUCTION

Established in 1956 at Chandigarh, Pracheen Kala Kendra is a philanthropic non-profit and non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion, preservation and dissemination of Indian classical arts as well as imparting quality education, training and conducting examinations in the field of performing and visual arts.  It has got a network of more than 3500 affiliated centres situated all over the country and abroad. The Kendra has been growing taller with every passing year. The Kendra is committed to provide learner’s access to the arts education irrespective of their age, religion, gender and region keeping in mind the fundamental values of Indian philosophy and spirituality. 

Besides, the Kendra undertakes various cultural activities and organizes a number of programmes of classical music and dance not only in Chandigarh but also in various other Indian states/cities.  Holding of seminars, conferences, workshops, etc. are some of its main functions.

(B) ORIGIN AND GROWTH

In olden times the ancient arts of music, dance and fine art used to command a place of pride and prominence due to classical and technical perfection and excellence that was associated with the performing and visual arts. People used to admire the same the world over. The Indian classical music and dance had been developed by the sages as a vehicle of adulation and expression. In a way, these arts covered the entire gamut of emotions and feelings of human beings.

However, with the passage of time, these arts faced a situation that stunted their augmentation and they began decay for want of encouragement, interest and patronage. The arts came to be looked down upon as contemptible and unflattering among the higher stratum of Indian society, culminating in a perceptible void which was felt more and more with the passage of time. It almost became imperative to revive and rejuvenate these ancient, traditional art forms which were an important constituent of Indian culture.

It was in these circumstances that way back in 1956, a group of fanatical and devoted exponents and patrons of art under the dynamic leadership of late Shri M.L. Koser (Founder Secretary of the Kendra), who himself was a great exponent of classical dances, thought of setting up a proper body for the revival, promotion, development and enrichment of cultural heritage of India on sound and scientific lines. At the same time, the need to provide adequate facilities for training, research, holding of examinations exclusively for various subjects of these arts and performances by established and upcoming artists, had engaged the attention of this group of committed people.

Thus was born the institution Pracheen Kala Kendra at Chandigarh which was registered in 1957 under the Registration of Societies Act XXI, 1860 vide No. 72 of 1957-58.  It was established with the patronage of then Punjab Governor Shri C.P.N.Singh, the Chief Minister Sardar Partap Singh Kairon and Chairman of the Punjab Legislative Council Sardar Kapoor Singh (Founder Chairman of the Kendra). Over the last five decades, the Kendra has succeeded in carving out for itself a prime cultural space in the arena of Indian classical arts and has now grown into an internationally acclaimed organization working identically on the pattern of an “Open University” of performing and visual arts, thanks to the foresighted approach of the Kosers – late Sh. M.L. Koser and Kathak wizard Smt. Shobha Koser - who together made this organization known worldwide. Now, Sh. Sajal Koser, who holds the office of the Secretary of the Kendra, is excellently carrying forward the legacy of his father late Sh. M.L. Koser and is committed to bring the Kendra to greater heights. Eminent Kathak danseuse Smt. Shobha Koser is the Registrar-cum-Treasurer of the Kendra.

Today, the Kendra is one of the oldest affiliating and examining body of India with its Headquarters in Chandigarh, an enormous sister set-up in Mohali (Punjab) and a zonal office for Eastern region at Kolkata (West Bengal) besides zonal/liaison office at Ludhiana and Bhubaneswar (Odisha). It conducts examinations spanning over nine years and awards certificates and diplomas of Prarambhik, Bhushan, Visharad, Bhaskar and Churamani to the successful students. The Kendra has grown taller with each passing year.

(C) AIMS AND OBJECTS

Some of the key aims and objects of the Kendra as defined in the Memorandum of Association are as under:

  • To promote, encourage, propagate the Indian tradition in fine arts, to educate and train people in fine arts, and generally take all steps for the same.
  • To establish, run and maintain institutions, regional centres, schools for education and training in fine arts including music, dance, sculpture, painting other theatrical arts and academic subjects in different parts of India and abroad.
  • To affiliate institutions imparting education, training or conducting research in fine arts including music, dance, sculpture, painting and other theatrical arts in India and abroad.
  • To lay down courses of study and to frame rules and regulations to conduct examinations in fine arts including music, dance, sculpture, painting, other theatrical arts and academic subjects and award certificates and diplomas and upadhies.
  • To take steps to establish University/Universities including a residential/open university with a view to conduct examinations and award certificates, diplomas and confer other distinctions in music, dance, painting, drama and other theatrical arts including academic subjects.
  • To carry out research in fine arts, to maintain libraries/galleries/museums and to publish literature.
  • To undertake, organise or facilitate conferences, lectures, seminars and symposia etc.
  • To sponsor cultural troupes/delegations within the country and abroad for promoting greater awareness of Indian arts, traditions and to arrange public performances, exhibitions in various fine arts including dance, music, sculpture, painting  and other theatrical arts including academic subjects.
  • To establish and manage theatrical halls and produce films on fine arts and other subjects including projection thereof through cinema/television etc.
  • To extend financial assistance to renowned and/or indigent artists and to confer distinctions and other honours on individual/group artists for outstanding achievements.
  • To undertake, facilitate and provide for the publication of newspapers, research papers, books, journals and other publications etc.
  • To accept grants, or money, securities and properties of any kind on such terms and conditions as may deem expedient.
  • To enter into any agreement with any Government or authority, municipal, local or otherwise, to obtain from such Government or such other authority any rights, privileges, concessions, financial or otherwise, that the Kendra may deem desirable to obtain and carry out, exercise and comply with such arrangements, rights, privileges and concessions, so acquired in furtherance of the objects of the Kendra.
  • To accept and undertake the management of any endowment of trust or donation to further the objects of the Kendra. 
  • To establish, run and maintain computer centres, printing press and training centres for Indian and foreign students with hostel facilities.
  • To conduct, train, instruct men, women, children including blind, physically handicapped, destitute persons and widows irrespective of any caste, creed, religion, race, community or other social status and grant them scholarship(s) and facilities for lodging and boarding etc.
  • To build Rest House(s) and Training Centre(s) etc. at all the important cities and towns of the country and abroad in furtherance of the aims and objects of the Kendra.
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(D) FOUNDERS

SHRI MADAN LAL KOSER
Man with a vision
(1930-2008)

Biographical Highlights

One of the greatest Tandav dance exponents, an epoch-maker and man with a vision, Shri Madan Lal Koser was much more. He had become a legend in his own lifetime, a distinction which is beyond majority of performers and organizers in the field of Indian classical music and dance. He stood among those distinguished few whose life's mission was the propagation of Indian classical music and dance.

Known for his untiring pursuit of excellence whatever the field, he belonged to that rare species of artistes who for the cause of promoting of other artists sacrificed his own performing career at a time when it was at the peak.  With his lifetime service to the enrichment of classical art and culture, Sh. M.L. Koser had scaled himself to such heights that people hold their heads up to look at him.

Undisputed monarch of cultural activities, Sh. Koser, instead of resting on his laurels, continued to pay homage to Indian art and culture and he single-handedly put the City Beautiful on the art map of the world. His visionary foresight, indefatigable energy and brilliance can be gauged from the fact that at the young of 26, in 1956, he thought of setting up an institution of Pracheen Kala Kendra’s stature which has now climbed to new and dizzy heights and become a beacon light that guides aspiring artistes, helping them realize their true potential.

Born  on June 20, 1930 in  an  illustrious family of  Gujranwala, now in Pakistan, to well-to-do parents Lala Mela Ram and Mata Ishar Kaur, it was Koser's interest in dance that took him to various fountainheads of this art  form. Despite tremendous family opposition, this young dancer was absolutely convinced of the need to learn the classical dance forms at the places of  their  origin. He started learning intricacies of dance under Guru Sudhakar and later spent considerable time under the  tutelage  of legendary  Guru  Uday  Shankar and Guru  Namudri  at  Almora  learning techniques and nuances of dancing.  Not contended, he further  practiced  Bharatnatyam in Thanjavour and Kathak  in  Lucknow under  the able guidance of master exponents.  Not only that, he  even went  to  Manipur  to master the techniques  of  Manipuri  dance,  and received  rigorous  training from the renowned Guru  Amubi  Singh,  an incomparable master of Manipuri dancing.  

Equipped with sound theoretical and practical  knowledge, Koser formed his own dancing troupe at the age of 20.  Koser's hard work bore fruit, and at the young age of 21, he was awarded  the  title  of  'Dwitya Tandu' (the  second  Shiva),  a  rare distinction from Manipur. Panditraj Atambapu Sharma at that time  said about  Koser  that he has the ability to perform the  three  forms of classical  dances - Bharatnatyam, Kathak, and Manipuri - which can be compared  with  Triveni, the sangam of the three  sacred  rivers,  the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati. Though Guru Koser had expertise in various dance forms, classical and folk, however, he earned name and fame as greatest Tandav dancer in pre and post independence era.

His debut was mind-blowing ballet based on Pandit Nehru's "Discovery of India" which  won him wide acclaim as a dance prodigy.  In the form of social crusade, the numerous ballets  staged by him spoke about the then burning problems of the country. The spectacular technique and novelty in his presentation brought him wide recognition so much so that the King of Ethiopia,  who  happened to witness one of his ballets,  presented  to Madan  Lal  Koser a Gold Medal and extended an invitation  to  him  to visit  his country.  The other most memorable ballets staged by  Koser were "Indo-Pak Conflict", "India's Peace Role in Korea",  "Unification of India", "Nawakhali Episode", "Bhakra Nangal", etc.

ML Koser got the unique opportunity of performing on a number  of occasions  before  Indian and foreign dignitaries.   His  performances were  witnessed amongst others by the Late Dr. Rajendra Prasad,  Late Dr. Radha Krishanan, Late Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, former  President, Vice-President and Prime Minister of India, respectively, and by  many Governors  and Chief Ministers of the different Indian  states.  Koser was  presented  the  President's  Award  twice  for  presenting   most inspiring  programmes  draped in refreshing creativity with perfect professional competence revealing novel shades of the art of classical dancing.

Apart  from performing in almost all the states of  India  before various parliamentary delegates, ambassadors and foreign  dignitaries, including  Marshal  Bulganan,  Chiei-Yen-Lie,  former  Chinese   Prime Minister, he has toured extensively all over the world exhibiting  his versatility to one and all.

ML Koser had made significant contributions in many varied capacities of his professional life spanning over several decades.

As An Artist

Performing  arts  are ephemeral phenomena.   Artists  shine  with meteoric  brilliance  on  the stage and fade  away  after  some  time, leaving faint memories.  There are only a few who turn their artistic brilliance to constructive use and serve the cause of art and  culture in an enduring manner.  Madan Lal Koser was such an artist, who having blazed a shining trail during his young years, has not faded away like a  meteor  but had become a beacon of light in the world  of  art  and culture who guided the destiny of young dancers, musicians, actors and other  professionals  from  the field of visual arts  to  a  positive, constructive  and fruitful life. Koser was indeed a superb  artist  of tremendous   range  with  exceptional  intelligence,  musicality   and arresting stage-presence.  Through his art he always tried to present the  most direct, most forceful, and most truthful  interpretation  of his  ever-expanding experience of life's many-splendoured  beauty  and bounty.

As An Institution Builder

The artistic journey of Koser took an epoch-making turn with  the establishment of "Pracheen Kala Kendra" by him at Chandigarh in 1956.  It was a visionary's tryst with a  new  realm which had never been visualized by any other professional in the  field of  art  and culture before. The idea behind  this  venture  was  to preserve and promote traditional music, dance, and other fine arts  in their  technical  perfection and classical  excellence  on  scientific lines.

Today, the Kendra is one of the premier educational and  cultural organisations  having three complexes – Chandigarh, Mohali and Kolkata. Since its inception, the Kendra is  doing  yeoman  service  in propagating India's traditional arts in a systematic manner. It is a pioneer, professionally-equipped  examining  and affiliating  institution of national importance.  It has a network  of more  than  3500 training and examination centres functioning  as  its affiliates  all over the country and abroad. There more than two  lakh sixty students are receiving professional training in various disciplines of Indian classical music, dance, and other fine arts.

Pracheen  Kala  Kendra has multiplicity  of  functions,  foremost amongst  them are the holding of examinations, imparting of  training, conducting  of  research  and  organising  of  high-standard  cultural programmes by inviting top notch artists, both established as well  as up-coming, from the field of performing arts.  The Kendra is the  only institution of its kind which has facilities to cover the whole  gamut of education and training in music, dance, drama, and other fine arts. It  provides adequate facilities for research and training,  supported by  extensive  library of books, audio and video  cassettes  on  these subjects.

The  Kendra  conducts  various  grades  of  examinations  in  the subjects of classical music, dance and fine arts (painting) and awards certificates  and diplomas of Prarambhik, Bhushan,  Visharad,  Bhaskar and   Churamani.   It  is  virtue  of  the  high  standard  of   these examinations that a good number of State Governments, Education Boards and  Universities  have  not  only  recognized the  certificates  and diplomas  awarded  by  the  Kendra  as  requisite  qualification   for appointment as teachers/ lecturers in schools/colleges but so also they have  treated  the  same as equivalent to  their  degrees  for  taking admission   in  higher  courses  of  study  under   their   respective jurisdictions.

As An Art Promoter and Propagator

ML Koser was the only successful art promoter and propagator in this part of the country.  He, through Pracheen Kala Kendra, had been holding a number of spectacular cultural events  on  regular  basis. "Monthly  Baithak  Programme"  is one such  example  which  was started by him in 1996 for holding performances by budding  and  talented artists  in the fields of Music and Dance. Since then the Baithak programme has been widely appreciated by the art-loving public as well as the media.

From  time to time, the Kendra holds research-based seminars  and symposiums  for  the benefit of the artist community as  well  as  the students.  Pracheen Kala Kendra has a regular  programme  to  invite artists of national and international repute from all over the country and abroad for giving inspiring performances of real art value in  the field of their specialization for both the amusement and enlightenment of ardent music fans and other public not only in Chandigarh but  also in other parts of the country.  The main object of holding such  music conferences,  dance festivals, and symposia on music and dance  is  to create   and   maintain   the  highest   professional   standards   in performances  and  productions, and to afford an  opportunity  to  the students  and  music/dance lovers to witness and enjoy  the  practical demonstrations of fine arts by great maestros.

The Pracheen Kala Kendra Nritya and Sangeet Sammelan is one such regular  annual  feature of the Kendra where almost  all  the  leading lights of Indian classical music and dance like Begum Parveen Sultana, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Ram Narayan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Rajan-Sajan  Mishra,  Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Pandit Vishwa  Mohan  Bhatt, Dagar  Brothers, Dilip Chandra Vedi, Girija Devi, Shobha Gurtu,  Ustad Shahid  Parvez,  Pandit  Hari Prasad Chaurasia,  Ms.  Sonal  Mansingh, Ms.  Shovana  Narayan, Ms. Sitara Devi, Ms. Shobha  Koser,  Ms.  Leela Samson,  Ms.  Swapnasundari, to name a few only, have  performed  from time to time.  This festival of music and dance is being held uninterruptedly without charging any entry fee from  the general  public with a view to promote Indian classical arts.

As An Art Critic

Koser  is  well-known  in the cultural  and  journalistic  fields throughout  India and abroad.  He is a noted art critic as well  as  a well-known commentator on political affairs.  He has been writing  for a  number  of  leading newspapers such as The  Kashmir  Times,  Dainik Kashmir  Times,  Urdu Daily Taskeen, Punjab Kesari,  Sambad  Pratidin, Daily Desh Darpan, and The Frontier Sun.

With  his many achievements and activities in the diverse  fields of  art and culture, ML Koser has secured for him a place of  eminence in the galaxy of world's foremost  exponents, originators,  organizers and propagators of dance, music and other fine arts.

It has been conceded that his achievements in the myriad field of performing art have secured for him a lofty place in the galaxy of world’s foremost exponents, originators, organizers and true propagators of the musical arts. He has left behind a rich legacy and his demise created a vacuum that can never be filled. His departure on the world theatre day (March 27, 2008) reiterates the fact that his life was meant for art.

SMT. SHOBHA KOSER
Kathak danseuse par-excellence

Smt. Shobha Koser is a great Kathak danseuse, perhaps the finest one in India.  Her dance is an integral part of her presentations.

Launching herself as a full-fledged performer at the age of 15, she is indeed one of the rare devotees of this dance form. She has studied in minute detail practical and theoretical aspects of Kathak. Having learnt the intricacies of the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak from her Guru Kanhiya Lal, who himself was a worthy disciple of Nrityacharya late Guru  Narayan Prasad, she also had the chance to polish  her style  from another established Guru of this Gharana, the Guru  Kundan Lal  Gangani.  She was fortunate enough to have found in her husband late Guru Madan Lal Koser who was another great master of classical dances. Such disciple really went a long way in shaping her destiny as a dancer not just in India but abroad as well.

Nritta and Abhinaya bhava, which are the two most important facets of  Kathak,  have  so  well  been  integrated  into  her   performer's personality  that  Smt. Shobha  Koser is able to execute  these  and  other aspect of this dance form with utmost ease.  This is primarily due  to her devotion and passion for the dance which has ably imparted also to over  a hundred of her disciples as the Head of the Dance  Department at  Government  College  for Girls, Sector-11,  Chandigarh. It is not without significance that her disciples are spread all over the world including the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Tashkent (Uzbekistan), etc.

Retired as Principal of Government Post-Graduate College, Mansa (PES-1), Smt. Shobha Koser has mastered every aspect of the Jaipur Gharana. She presents   its  facets  like  Taalas,  Gats,  Toras,  Tukras,   Paran, Chakkradar  Paran  extremely  well  to earn  encomiums  from  the  art critics.  The subtlety of her footwork, portrayal of emotions through "Bhava", graceful lyrical movements are only a few of the strong of her performances.  She casts a magical spell on the audience as she appears to float as delicately as on the wings of a fresh, soft spring breeze while whirling with an astounding verve and vigour.

It is her infinite capacity to involve herself and the audience with the dance performance that has enabled Smt. Koser to reach the front row of Indian classical dancers in the most natural way. She has been engaged in the dissemination of ancient arts all over the world through Pracheen Kala Kendra, the premier and one of the oldest organizations of the country.

Smt. Shobha Koser has been decorated with the titles of Nritya Shree, Nritya Surabhi, Nritya Urvashi, Shreekshetra Nati, etc.  She has  also been  honoured  with the Amala Shankar Award,  Pandit  Manmohan  Bhatt Memorial  Award,  the K. Lalitha Lifetime Achievement  Award  and  the Critics  Council of India (CCI) Award twice. The Chennai-based Madras Sangeet Natak Akademi has also presented her with Kala Shiromani Award.  She has also been presented with Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the Konark International Award, for her eminent position as a performer and the sound theoretical knowledge of Indian classical dances.

Besides  being  rated  as a Top grade artist  by  Prasar  Bharati (Doordarshan),  Shobha  is a prominent member of  Advisory  Bodies  of different State Governments, reputed organisations and Universities in the  matter of art and culture. Presently, she holds the dual charge of Treasurer-cum-Registrar of Pracheen Kala Kendra.

(E) MANAGEMENT & ORGANISATIONAL SET-UP

Since the Kendra is a registered institution, it has a properly framed democratic constitution to govern its day-to-day affairs. The institution functions on sound professional lines though separate wings, looking after Training, Research, Examinations, Performances and General Administration. The Kendra has a General Body which elects the members to the Executive Board who in turn guides the day-to-day functions of the Kendra. These members are persons of high social status and unquestionable integrity having deep interest in the promotion of art & culture as well as education of young people in Music, Dance and Fine Arts.

The organizational set-up of the Kendra is no less than or similar to the organizational set-up of a University/School Education Board of the country.  There is a Chairman like the Vice-Chancellor of a University/Board of School Education. The Senior Vice-Chairman/Vice-Chairmen at par with a Pro Vice-Chancellor of a University or Vice-Chairman in a school Education Board.  There is a Secretary who is the Principal Executive Officer of the institution, like the Secretary of Education Board, a Registrar on the pattern of the Registrar of a University. There is a Treasurer like the Chief Accounts Officer of a University/Board.  The Additional Registrar, Controller of Examination, Deputy Registrar, Assistant Registrar, Accounts Officer, Superintendents and other ministerial staff are on the staffing pattern of a University/School Education Board.

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SH. SAJAL KOSER

A vivacious legal luminary having triumphs in several major court cases at Punjab and Haryana High Court and District Courts, Chandigarh, Sh. Sajal Koser was born in 1966 to artist duo of international repute Smt. Shobha Koser, a well-known Kathak danseuse and late Sh. Madan Lal Koser, a renowned Tandav dancer and founder of Pracheen Kala Kendra. It goes without saying that art runs in his veins.

A Law Graduate from Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh and former Vice-President and two-time President of District Bar Association, Chandigarh, one of the largest  Bar Associations of North India, Sh. Sajal Koser has exceptional dexterity of expression both verbal and written lending to skilful articulation of legal issues and solutions in congruence with the finer points of law.

He is on the panel of Department of Laws of PU to impart practical training to the final year Law students (LLB) besides numerous government and non-government agencies including MNCs.

Besides a successful legal professional, Sh. Sajal Koser has also mastered the techniques of Indian classical music, both vocal and instrumental. He has got Bachelor’s degree in music from Panjab University, Chandigarh.

He is actively associated with the activities and development of the Pracheen Kala Kendra since his childhood and has seen the Kendra growing day by day under the stewardship his legendary father.  Since the assumption of the office of the Secretary of Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh, Sh. Koser has committed himself to the promotion and propagation of Indian cultural heritage and to bring the Kendra to new heights.

(E) THE CAMPUSES

Chandigarh Complex  

The Head Office of the Kendra is housed in its five-storey complex.  It is situated in Sector 35-B, Chandigarh, a city known worldwide as City Beautiful. The complex which was constructed at a cost of Rs. 40 lakh with financial assistance provided by the Department of Culture, Government of India, was inaugurated on 22nd February, 1989 by Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. The building accommodates its Administrative, Examination, Training, Performance and Research Wings, providing extensive facility for practical Training in Music, Dance and Fine Arts.

The first floor consists of an indoor auditorium and guest houses. The Baithak/Special programmes organized by the Kendra or other organizations are held in the auditorium housed in this complex. 

Mohali Office

The new complex of the Kendra at Mohali situated in Sector 71 is a marvelous cultural complex.  It was inaugurated on September 12, 2003. It brought into reality the vision of the indefatigable Guru M.L. Koser and Guru Shobha Koser, the founders of the Kendra.  Such an all-encompassing concept was never been visualized and brought into reality anywhere else in the cultural world. This building is yet another feather in the Kendra’s cap. Although five-storey complex of the Kendra in Chandigarh is an architectural landmark, the Mohali complex is regarded as the virtual cultural cosmos as it provides, under one roof, every facility which is required by students, researchers, artists, art lovers and academics pursuing a career in various disciplines of the performing and visual arts. 

This unique five-storey complex has spacious rooms for holding training classes in music, dance, fine arts (painting) and rehearsal rooms, a reference library, a well-equipped hostel for Indian and foreign students, an art gallery, two modern auditoriums suited for holding performances, conferences and seminars. It is situated in a peaceful environment which is must for the students of the music and dance.

Kolkata Complex

Besides these two landmark buildings, the Kendra has also its own building in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, which houses its Eastern Regional Office.  The said office/building cater to the growing needs of our centre superintendents as well as students.

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