August 10, 2011
The ancient Indian treatise, Natya Shastra, holds classical dance to be an expression of the Divine.
“When the world became steeped in greed and desire, jealousy and anger, pleasure and pain, the Supreme One, Brahma, was asked by people to create an entertainment form which could be seen and heard by all, for the scriptures were not enjoyed by the masses.”
And thus classical dance was born.
Students and faculty at the Amritapuri campus enjoyed soul-stirring heavenly dances this past week as well-known Kathakali artist Kalamandalam Mohanakrishnan and his troupe enacted the story of Garuda from Garuda Garva Bhangam.
The artists skillfully portrayed events that led to the destruction of Garuda’s ego by Lord Krishna.
Audience members were captivated by the theatrical expertise of the dancers, their elaborate costumes and the rhythmic Carnatic music.
Their traditional Kathakali dance style, Ottan Thullal, belongs to a sacred tradition and is generally performed in temples during festive seasons. It comprises of dance, mime, music and acting.
Sri. Gopinanthan Prabha, guru of Mohanakrishnan, described this ancient dance form that was originated by the legendry Malayalam poet, Kunjan Nambiar, in the 18th century.
“There are three different types of Thullal (performances accompanied by musical instruments): Ottan Thullal, Seethankan Thullal and Parayan Thullal. The rhythm of the songs used and the costumes are very different in each one.”
“Kunjan Nambiar took many episodes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas and presented them in the simplest form for the common man.”
Through the performances, the dancers both worshiped and portrayed the deity.
Traditional Indian dance forms have often been described as a divine thread connecting the individual with the universal.
Which probably explains why the beautiful and sublime performances were not just entertaining but also left audience members deeply inspired and uplifted.
“The performance of the Ottan Thullal brought to life the values inherent in our scriptural texts. We look forward to many more such performances from the SPICMACAY team,” shared Dr. K. Sankaran, Principal of School of Engineering.