History has presented us with a fascinating picture of artists and performers capturing the hearts and the imaginations of their people. From Tansen in the East to Ludwig van Beethoven in the West, both artists were exceptional exponents of their craft and their names have not been forgotten. Bhairavi Yogesh Lakhani, a 43 year old, B.Com LL.B. graduate is a connesseiur of the Arts and another example of an entrepreneur who followed her heart. She is the proud founder of the Shashikunj Academy of Art, Music and Cultural Activitiesis, an exceptional enterprise which aims to add to the roster of famous historical performers.
We would have to go back a bit in history to know how it all started. Bhairavi was very close to her father-in-law. He was the former speaker of the Gujarat Assembly and also former Cabinet Minister for Industries, Law and Judiciary. Bhairavi always found his hand over her head, showering blessings, to face any difficulty in life. So, when he passed away Bhairavi felt very lonely.
She wanted to keep his memories alive. She also wanted to pursue her dream of doing something for children, music, art and culture. That is when she came up with the idea of Shashikunj Academy.With her father in law's memories acting as the foundation stone, she went on with the support of her husband and mother in law to open the academy. As Shashikunj started getting materialized her passion grew even stronger. She thinks that this was the turning point of her life.
Shashikunj Academy was established in May 2004. The initial years with Shashikunj Academy were full of struggles for Bhairavi. She lacked any sort of experience in this domain. The major challenges were to handle so many children together and satisfy their parents' ambitions. The lack of good faculty was another hurdle on the way ahead. She said, "I can't turn back after accepting a challenge. No chances of me going back to the normal life."
The Academy was set up as a hobby centre. Bhairavi along with her team created a beautiful ambience, a large waiting space for parents with a library and large AC halls for better training with comfort. She chose her team in such a manner that every member of her team aligns oneself with the same passion for art and music. Hence, the academy is never seen as a commercial center, rather as a temple of learning.
Shashikunj academy regularly organizes unique events every 2 to 3 months for our students, parents, guests and special category children. Special invitations are sent to the senior citizens from Old Age Homes. They successfully run many other activities all under the same roof. But the profits have been rather stagnant, at "zero". Because, worship was never meant to earn profits.
Bhairavi says, "The satisfaction and happiness I see on the faces of parents when they see their children learning extra-curricular activities with zeal and passion is my real energy booster." Further, she says, "A pure sentimental feeling for the elders and the younger generation and also a very special feeling for the down trodden, physically and mentally challenged children and those who suffer from serious disease of cancer, I consider the main driving force"
And the academy has today grown leaps and bounds with 20 faculty members onboard. 4 additional staff members on the payroll help around with the administration. The academy is showing promising results with 40% annual growth rate.
Bhairavi is slightly disappointed to tell that the academy with its sole branch in Ahmedabad has a very limited reach. But she says with a glint in her eyes, "I want to establish a full-fledged National Level Academy for multiple curricular activities which will help children develop a complete personality". Still dreaming! But now we can't really doubt the outcome. Can we?
Finally she has some tips for the entrepreneurs, "See Beautiful dreams and do the best to make those dreams come true"
As we depart from her Academy we hear faint sounds of music fading away. And we turn back to see the children and elders heading towards the academy for another special class. They walk towards the doors excitedly, half running and half jumping with joy. The music grows louder. We feel the music, we feel happiness.