Monday, May 28, 2012

Ugadi Festival - Ceremonies and Explanatory Notes

 March 23, 2012

Our Hindi teacher, Seetha ji, also happens to be a dance guru. Actually, that's her real profession. She teaches classical South Indian dance. This is also how, on a fateful Friday night, we got invited to the celebration of Ugadi, Tamil New Year, at Delhi Tamil Sangam.

Lighting the Ceremonial Torch

The celebration started with the usual ceremonies, as in the Philippines, where there are important people who's supposed to talk about important things relevant to the occasion. Obviously, we barely understood what was happening but it's ok--we still managed to clap, stand and chuckle whenever we get back in the loop. :)

the VIPs

We were advised beforehand that there will be ceremonies before the event but we still wanted to come early anyway, to get good seats. Mr. Nagajothy, Seetha ji's husband and also a dance guru (he used to be her student) actually wanted us to sit in the first row but we politely declined. The 3rd and 4th rows were the best. Hehe

The hall was filled with relatives and friends from the Tamil
community based in Delhi
The performance is to be given by Abhinaya Nagajothy and her group.

Event Poster

Yep, Abhinaya is the one and only daughter/child of Seetha ji and Mr. Nagajothy. I guess it's an understatement to say that she has been dancing all her life. Well, she has a number of awards, accolades and praises attached to her name so I guess it's all worth it. She's in the Guinness World Records too! She's currently teaching at the dance school as well.

Honoring Abhinaya: usually comes in the form of a bouquet
and a blanket wrapped around you
Mr. Nagajothy and Seetha ji were also honored, as they are
the gurus of the dancing group. See the blanket wrapped
around the couple? Sweet right?! :)

And, after everyone has said their piece and honor has been given, the show begins! Below is the description given by Abhinaya for the Kuchipudi dance form:

Today, we are going to present you a classical dance form - Kuchipudi. This was basically performed only by men till a few decades ago. Once the women were introduced into the art, the parameters of dance changed in a huge way. Men disguised and danced like women but now, exactly the opposite can be seen in many dance performances.
The science behind this particular art form is Natya Sastra. Natya Satra is the science of dramaturgy that was written by Sage Bharata between 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD. Some of the parameters for a dance form to be identified as a classical dance have been mentioned in this particular book. The hastas or the hand gestures, padakarmas or the feet movements, karanas or the graceful movements of the whole body, are all mentioned and defined in this book. Kuchipudi uses few of the karanas, most of the hastas, and all of the padakarmas.
Kuchipudi dance, like any classical dance, has 3 major aspects to it. Nritta is the pure dance, Natya or the drama where a story is explained, and Nritya which is a combination of pure dance and story narration.
Music and Songs are being played live:
it was a mix of quiet to loud, mellow to upbeat, and eerie to awesome!
There are six continuous dance performances throughout the hour, each broken only by the explanation that comes before the dance. The next blog posts (linked below) will showcase each performance. :)

Vani Ki Vandaman
Ma Telugu Talli Ki
Gajavadana Beduve
Brindavani Thillana

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