The city of pearls is home to many. But, the Secunderabad area, one of the oldest localities in Hyderabad, holds a special space among the art and culture lovers. As most of us are aware, the first ‘Kanya paathasala’ was started in Secunderabad and the same family which started it, is continuing its efforts to make an impact on the society and the city in its own way. Our Sacred Space, as the name goes, is as pure and sacred as it can get.
Started in the year 2012 on the auspicious day of Dasara, the cultural centre had a formal launch in January 2013 by Nayantara Nandakumar, an environmental engineer. Our Sacred Space is a blessing in disguise for those who want everything related to art, culture and holistic healing under one roof. “My family has founded over 20 educational and social institutions in Secunderabad including a school for girls in the 1880s (now Keyes High School), home for the disabled, school for underprivileged children, etc. We were very particular that if we start something, it should bring value to the city, and improve the quality of life here. As a result, we have made choices and didn’t go ahead with other options. This is one thing that has personally helped me in my life; it’s more joyful, fulfilling and healthy. All those factors put together paved the way for Our Sacred Space,” says Nayantara.
The eco-friendly creative space is a hub for all age groups; participants at Our Sacred Space belong to all ages, religions and sections. Sometimes, the entire family visits the centre wherein the parent can involve in one workshop and the kids in other. The centre has two gates – one opens to the St Ann’s main road and the other faces Sangeet theatre road.
As the centre is located on one of the most crowded and busiest roads, one may worry about parking. But, no, fret not as the space accommodates more than 50 vehicles and it has 500-seater auditorium, 15 different rooms and halls of varying sizes, and one open-air amphitheatre.
“On a regular basis, we are holding 25 different classes throughout the year and, besides that, we also organise different workshops. And the ‘Adivaaram Angadi’ where we can get local, organic, renewable products for a sustainable lifestyle is one of our USPs. This angadi, which has been happening every Sunday for the past five years, also provides space for handlooms, handicrafts and organic groceries.
A lot of people come forward to doing something here looking at the premises and the crowd, but, the founder is very particular about the quality. “We organise many prestigious events at our venue where some of the best artistes come and perform, and these programmes are open to public who are really interested. We sponsor or subsidise the pricing, and rent out the space to people who want to do some wholesome activity. Our focus is on folk and classical art, environmental work, wellness, holistic health and healing. In this area, we have so many different things under one roof,” shares Nayantara, who curates everything and takes a demonstration before letting out the space.
“I work with each instructor, to bring in more dimensions and to align it with our work. Our focus is on natural materials using holistic and wholesome practices. We have application forms and strict guidelines; we have removed a lot of people from the list if they do not meet the needed benchmark,” says Nayantara who has also come up with another Our Sacred Space retreat centre in Dharur.
Our Sacred Space is a sister organisation of Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, New Mexico, USA, and has followers from over 43 countries. For the wonderful work that Our Sacred Space is doing, it has many awards and recognitions to its credit. Some of the awards and rewards received in the year 2018 include: World Peace Award – UPF International, from UN Peace Ambassador, Embassies Relations Office, UN Plaza, New York; Rotary Award for Vocational Excellence, US Consulate; Prajwala Award for collaborating on Swaraksha campaign and Prerna Award from Mahindra Group for Empowering Women Farmers.