SMA Nirvana brings music to heal minds

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Sridhar Ranganathan, founder and CEO of Shankar Mahadevan Academy with Shankar Mahadevan | Photo: Special arrangement

SMA Nirvana is an initiative of the Shankar Mahadevan Academy (SMA) Trust that promises to restore human connection in our lives. SMA Nirvana brings live, 60-minute free of charge music concerts to uplift the spirits of people who struggle with serious illness, pain, or loneliness. The trust is associated with hospitals, palliative care centres, hospice centres, senior-citizen communities and children’s homes to stage free online music concerts that teach the joy of music to those in need. At present, these concerts are held online. But SMA Nirvana will start in-person events with the right quantum of funding in the post-pandemic world.

The pulse of SMA Nirvana concerts

SMA Nirvana gathers people together as one community. This community bonds over music discover shared interests, and gives each other companionship. Just imagine if these were to happen at scale. Millions of people and their families across the world would be able to live better despite their pain, suffering, and feeling of loneliness.

SMA Nirvana completed 126 concerts on March 5, 2022. With the inaugural concert in September 2021, the concerts touched the lives of more than 350,000 people. To date, SMA Nirvana performed for people at more than 70 NGOs, care centres and social institutions. In the concerts, 78 musicians enthralled these audiences. The musicians include SMA teachers, musicians and performing artistes including Shankar Mahadevan, and external musicians and performing artistes. Anyone who wants to sing for this cause and who can enthral an audience for 60 minutes can perform for the concert. SMA Nirvana reaches out to the following section of people.

1. People living with terminal illnesses in hospice centres
2. Cancer survivors or people taking treatment for cancer
3. Elderly people at institutional centres or care homes
4. Children who have no family or social support
5. Adults or children who live with physical or intellectual disability
6. People who live with depression or other mental illnesses.
7. Children who were born to sex workers, and are in the care of a well-meaning institution.
8. People who are lonely and do not have friends as they may be too old, or who have outlived their friends or been abandoned by their families.

SMA Nirvana collaborates with NGOs who give care to these sections of our population. They set up a Calendar of Concerts with the NGOs for an entire year. The NGOs gather all the people under their care into a common room equipped with a large TV set and sound system. The NGOs also share the live streaming links of SMA Nirvana concerts with their network of founders, donors, volunteers, and their caregiving and administrative staff.

The concerts can include a wide variety of musical forms: Indian classical (Carnatic, Hindustani), semi-classical songs, devotional songs, film songs, popular music in Hindi and any regional language.

The Shankar Mahadevan Academy Trust is a non-profit organisation. Anyone who receives an Invitation link for a concert from the NGO that SMA Nirvana is performing for can attend the concert.

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