He is a pioneer of "therapeutic theatre", who has created masterpieces such as the Ramayana, has choreographed Sufi dance on wheelchairs for people with disabilities, is a National Award winner and a Guinness Record holder. Guru Syed Sallauddin Pasha talks about innovating the dance therapy, challenges along the route and "delayed recognition" in India.
Mixing dance and healing I come from a family of healers. Treating people has been part of our culture, passed on for generations. My forefathers were the official healers to the kings of Mysore. So, naturally, it was passed down to me as well. But as a child, I was also interested in dance. I was six when I started learningKathak. I distinctly remember this particular incident when I was barely 13 or 14 years old, when I started teaching various dance expressions and movements to the children who were brought to my grandfather for treatment. I would simply spend hours with them. My grandfather asked me one day, 'Yeh kya kar rahe ho inke saath ki jo ab tak kuch hila nahin sakta tha, woh express kar pa raha hai'. While I would do that very unconsciously, I then realised the power of dance in healing.
Integration of differently abled In our country, people treat the differently abled as untouchables. Agar koi wheelchair par hai, toh log usse sympathise aur pity karenge. There is still no awareness, despite the fact that there are so many people with disabilities around us. Just to understand what they felt and went through, I used to spend almost 18-20 hours on a wheelchair. I also realised then that very sadly, most of the roads and places in India are not disabled-friendly.