An upcoming performance at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in MaryLand, USA will put a spotlight on the life Mother Teresa and her work in India.
“Joy of Living,” an original multimedia dance production, will be a one-night performance on Aug. 6. Bowie group Children Can Come Closer is organizing the event, and features dancers from Nrityalaya, the school of Indian Classical Odissi Dance.
The performance comes one month before Mother Teresa will be canonized as a saint on Sept. 4. The organizers behind the event say the performance, targeted for children, will showcase the nun’s legacy of serving the poor.
“Most people know that name, Mother Teresa, but they may not know what she did in Calcutta,” said Annie Chelliah, the production’s organizer. “I want the children to see this…She was all the good adjectives (that) can be applied.
The production will follow Mother Teresa as a young nun in India to her work with the poor and the sick, which led to her winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Chelliah said. She added many of the dancers are coming all over the country for the performance.
The proceeds from the performance will go to food pantry in Bowie, as well as Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Convent.
Mother Teresa was born as Gonxha Agnes in 1910 in Albania. At 18, she joined an Irish convent and was given the name Sister Mary Teresa. Shortly after, she moved to India to work at a girls school in Calcutta, know known as Kolkata.
About 20 years later, she created the Missionaries of Charity to help the poorest people in India. For the rest of her life, she cared for the poor and the sick throughout India.
When she died in 1997, Pope John Paul II disregarded the rule of waiting five years after a person’s death to pursue sainthood. Her canonization started less than two years after her death. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 2003 and approved the first of two posthumous miracles needed for sainthood.
For the first miracle, a Kolkata woman said she was cured of a stomach tumor because she prayed to the nun. There was no scientific explanation for the recovery of the woman’s health.
Last December, Pope Francis recognized a second miracle and announced that Mother Teresa would be declared a saint. The second miracle consisted of the nun healing a Brazilian man in 2008, who had multiple brain tumors. The man’s family members said they prayed to Mother Teresa and he soon healed.
Chelliah’s husband, Daniel, worked with Mother Teresa and her organization in India during the 1970s. He said many people don’t realize the nun came from a “high society covenant” in order to serve the poor, specifically those with leprosy.
Like many around the world, Mother Teresa inspired Daniel to become a social activist. The dance performance enhances the drama of the future saint’s story, he said, and will hopefully inspire younger generations.
“She was concerned for people in a community that we didn’t look at, he said. “Love thy neighbor and not hating the enemy, she gave that to the world.”