Friday, February 25, 2011

Mohiniattam is one of the major classical dance styles of India

Mohiniattam is one of the major classical dance styles of India. Mohiniattam from Kerala is perhaps one of the most graceful dances and totally identifies with the green environment; gentle singing of the palm trees and the calm ocean waters of Kerala. Kerala has always preserved all traditional arts and the people of the state consider it an integral part of everyday life.
In the word Mohiniattam, Mohini means a maiden who charms the onlooker and attam means dance. Usually the legends in India links the name of Mohini to that of God Vishnu who had assumed the beautiful form of Mohini to entice Demon Bhasmasura and finally destroyed him. It is said that the demon had a boon, which granted him immortality. He could die only if a hand was placed on his head. Mohini danced and made Bhasmasura also dance with her and suddenly for a moment placed her hand on her head. Bhasmasura too followed without thinking and then came his end. There is a common belief that perhaps the dance form got its names from this episode.
The beauty of Indian classical dance is also its appropriate and relevant costume and jewelry. The traditional costume of Mohiniattam is white with gold. The distinctive style of Mohiniattam is the complete absence of heavy stamping and rhythmical tension. Footwork in Mohiniattam is gentle and soft and sliding. The movements are never abrupt, they are dignified, easy and natural, but the vertical line of the body is never broken. Hence, among the styles detailed by Bharata Muni in the ancient Indian treatise on dance, the Natya Sastra, Mohiniattam resembles the Kaisiki type meaning graceful.
Mohiniattam is a classical dance form of Kerala. Mohiniattam is derived from the words “Mohini” (meaning beautiful women) and “attam”(meaning dance). Thus, Mohiniattam dance form is a beautiful feminine style with surging flow of body movements. Mohiniattam dance in Kerala developed in the tradition of Devadasi system, which later grew and developed a classical status.
Mohiniattam is a solo female dance (in a single costume), where musical melody and the rhythmical swaying of the dancer from side to side and the smooth and unbroken flow of the body movement is the striking feature. The Mohiniattam dance focuses mainly on feminine moods and emotions. Usually, the theme of Mohiniattam dance is “sringara” or love. Subtle subjects of love are executed with suggestive abhinaya, subtle gestures, rhythmic footwork and lilting music. The legend of Vishnu as “Mohini”, (the enchantress) forms the core of Mohiniattam dance.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


........KADHAKALI........: KARNASAPATHAM STORY: "Duryodhana’s Thiranottam, Thiranottam is the traditional way an important Kathi character appears on the stage for the first time. A kingl..."


Duryodhana’s Thiranottam, Thiranottam is the traditional way an important Kathi character appears on the stage for the first time. A kingly character who is evil minded is a Kathi Character in Kathakali. Duryodhana is a Kathi character.
War between the Pandavas and the Kauravas is imminent. Duryodhana is the chief of the Kauravas. Bhanumathi, wife of Duryodhana is sitting despondent, anxious about the outcome of the war and the fate of her husband. Duryodhana coming in finds Bhanumathi in a despondent mood and asks her why she was so depressed. Bhanumathi says that she was scared about the imminent battle, and if Duryodhana is killed, she will not live for another moment. Duryodhana assures her that he will kill all his enemies, and there is no cause for anxiety. He says that he has powerful relatives, loyal dependent kings, mighty friends, illustrious gurus, and above all his friend the great Karna all ready to assist him. He will therefore succeed in battle and will rule the country.
Karna arrives, and Duryodhana tells him of Bhanumathi’s anxiety, requests him to talk to her and departs. Karna assures bhanumathi that he is prepared to shed his blood for his very dear friend Duryodhana and will certainly see that Duryodhana wins in battle and will become ruler of the country. By his confidence he is able to console Bhanumathi. When Duryodhana returns his wife is in a happy mood. Dussasanan, Duryodhana’s younger brother comes in to inform him that the ministers are waiting to see him. Duryodhana, Dussassana and Bhanumathi depart.
Karna is in a very pensive mood and decides to have a bath in the Ganges. He goes to the river and has his bath. He wonders who his parents are; whether he is really the son of Radha and her husband the charioteer who brought him up. He is ready to go back when he observes a lady coming to meet him and recognizes her as Kunthi, the mother of the Pandavas. After greeting her respectfully, he asks her to disclose the object of her visit. Kunthi tells him that she has come as a supplicant to beg Karna to leave the company of the Kauravas, and join the Pandavas in the coming battle. Karna is infuriated, and tells Kunthi that her life is being spared only because she is a woman.
Kunthi has no option but to tell Karna the real facts of his birth, and try to enlist his support for her children, the Pandavas. She tells him that he is really her own son and that his father is the Suryadeva himself. This unexpected revelation stuns Karna who feels faint and sits down. He falls at the feet of Kunthi and Implores her to reveal the secret of his birth. Kunthi tells him that Durvasa the great sage, pleased with her for looking after him during his visit to her father, gave her five boons. The test the efficacy of the first boon she prayed to Suryadeva, and he arrived, and he bestowed her a son who at the time of his birth had kundals and shield (kavacha). Fearing public scandal she was compelled to put the baby in a basket and cast him on the river.
Karna had always been very close to Duryodhana and the Kauravas. Once at the contest, the Pandavas had insulted Karna saying that he could not take part as he was not a nobleman. Duryodhana however sprang to his support and said that he was making Karna the King of the Kingdom of Anga. Karna’s honour was saved, and he considered Duryodhana his savior and closest friend.
Karna while showing great respect and love for Kunthi tells that he could not abandon his friend Duryodhana under any circumstance, and that all he could promise was that he will not kill any of the Pandavas other than Arjuna. Kunthi leaves disheartened. Karna returns to the palace and from there to his own residence.
Dussasana comes seeing all these, and decided to disclose the fact that Karna is the son of Kunthi and the brother of the Pandavas to Duryadhana. Duryodhana and Bhanumathi enter, and Dussasana tells them that Karna cannot be depended upon as he is the son of Kunthi. Duryodhana asks Dussasana to fetch Karna. Dussasana comes back with Karna. Duryodhana tells him that he knows that Karna is the son of Kunthi, and that he is free to leave him and join his brothers. Karna is greatly upset, and says that he will never leave his friend and that he may not be considered ungrateful, or that his great love for his friend will ever lessen. Karna in a state of great emotion tries to cut his own throat. Duryodhana stops him and says that his words were meant to console him, and give some relief to his distressed mind and permit him to choose his own path, and that he had never any doubt about Karna’s love or loyalty. Bhanumathi consoles him and Dussasana realizing the greatness of karma asks for his forgiveness.
Karna then takes a most awful and solemn oath that he will abandon his mother and brother for his bosom friend Duryodhana. Either Arjuna or he will die in battle, and that they will not survive the battle together. He will court a warrior’s death to save Duryodhana. With this great oath the Kathakali ends.

Friday, February 18, 2011



Daksha is the son of Brahma and he and his wife Vedavalli go to river Yamuna to have a bath. Vedavalli notices a conch shell in a lotus leaf. At her request Daksha takes it, and it at once turns into a beautiful baby girl. They bring up the baby as their own daughter. Sathi grows up to be a very beautiful princess. She is a great devotee of Siva, and decides to have him as her husband. She does penance to attain her object. Siva comes into her presence as an old Brahmin and tries to dissuade her from her intention of marrying Siva, but when he finds that Sathi is very serious and will marry no one else, he discloses his identity. Daksha when he comes to know of this is really unwilling to give his daughter in marriage to Siva, but finally consents to the marriage, and the wedding takes place in the presence of Indra. After the marriage, Siva leaves for Kailas, and Sathi is deeply distressed at his quick departure. She again does penance, and Siva appears and takes her to Kailas without seeking the permission of Daksha. It is in this background that the story opens.                                                                     
Scene: 1 – Daksha and Indra
Daksha is deeply hurt at his daughter being so unceremoniously taken away without his consent and complains to Indra. He speaks about Siva in abusive terms with deep resentment. However Indra warns Daksha that he should not speak in disrespectful terms about Siva and should not displease him in ay way.
Scene: 2 – Nandikeswara and Daksha
As suggested by Indra, Daksha goes to Kailas to meet Siva. On reaching kailas, Nandikeswara who is at the gate does not permit Daksha to go in. and meet Siva. Greatly offended Daksha returns.
Scene: 3 – Daksha and Datheechi
Daksha has planned to conduct a great yaga, and asks Datheechi to take part in the yaga. Learning that Siva is not being invited he says that he will not attend. He advises Daksha to invite Siva, as he is a Divine God, and no yaga can be conducted without his presence. He departs without taking part in the yaga.
Scene: 4 – Sathi and Siva
Coming to know of the yaga, Sathi wants to attend it. Siva warns Sathi that she should not attend it, and that she is likely to be insulted. Despite this warning Sathi goes to the yaga.
Scene: 5 – Sathi and Daksha
Sathi goes to the yaga. Daksha on seeing her abuses her in no uncertain terms and asks her to leave. He does not heed her plaintive requests and asks her to leave. Sathi warns Daksha that for this insult he will be punished by Siva. She departs.
Scene: 6 – Sathi and Siva
Sathi returns and tells Siva of the great insult she had to undergo and all that had happened. She tells Siva that Daksha is not her father any more, and that Daksha has to be punished.
Scene: 7 – Siva, Veerabhadran and Bhadrakali
Siva creates two powerful destructive spirits, Veerabhadran and Bhadrakali and orders them to go and obstruct the yaga and destroy Daksha.
Scene: 8 – Veerabhadran, Bhadrakali, Daksha and Pooja Brahmana
Veerabhadran and Bhadrakali enter the yagasala and destroy every thing there. Daksha tries to protect everything and is unable to do anything. Finally Veerabhadran beheads Daksha.
Scene: 9 – Daksha and Siva
Indra and the Rishis implore Siva to forgive Daksha, so that the yaga could be completed and destruction of the world avoided. Siva relents and as Daksha’s head had been destroyed, a goats head is placed on Daksha and he is restored to life. Daksha repents and prays to Siva for pardon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rukmini Swayamvaram

Aswathi Tirunal actually wrote a Sanskrit Drama called Rukmini Swayamwaram. Later he wrote this kathakali in malayalam for the benefit of a larger audience.
Rukmini is a beautiful maiden, daughter of Vidharbha King, who wants to marry Krishna. But her brother Rukmi wants her to marry Shisupala. The first scene is soliloqy of the sad Rukmini. Then a family friend called Sundara Brahmana comes to meet her. She tells him about her troubles and he agrees to take the matter to Krishna. He is sure that Krishna will come and take her to Dwaraka. Sundara Brahmana arrives at Dawaraka. He is welcomed by Krishna who is known to help brahmins at all times. The Brahmin tells Krishna about Rukmini's fate and that she may die if he does not go and save her. Krishna agrees to go to Vidharbha and bring back Rukmini as his bride. Then he arranges his Chariot. But the brahmana will not climb up. He is afraid, so afraid that he may fall down and die and maybe vultures will come and eat his body. But Krishna tells him "You may stand on the chariot clutching me". To this he happily agrees. He thanks God for giving him an opportunity to hold on to Krishna who is to him God on earth.
 Shishupala feels that during the marriage Krishna may create problems. A Bhiru ( a crony of Shishupala) is arranged to take care of Rukmini wherever she goes. Rukmini goes to the Devi Temple with the garland in hand and as she was coming out from the temple she sees Krishna and immediately puts the garland on his neck. Krishna takes her into his Chariot. At this Shishupala goes to war with Krishna but Krishna defeats him and goes off with the bride. Rukmi, brother of Rukmini also chases them and goes to war with Krishna but was defeated and comes back in a sorry condition.
In this play Sundara Brahmana comes in Minuku vesha, with a fine folded white uttareeya (shawl) in his left arm. Krishna and Rukmi are Pacha vesha. Shishupala is kathi vesha. Bhiru is actually a joker of the play and comes in a jokers dress which is also Minuku.


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