TOWARDS AN INDIA-IMPRESSED GLOBE!
It is high time that we learned to both promote and elevate ourselves across the globe as a nation on the go!!
In this connection it’s high time we had a University for Mohiniyattom and for the other 7 classical dance forms in this country! This is a felt need of sorts as we forge ahead as a nation in South Asia. It’s also imperative that we institute countrywide scholarships for higher studies in this fine art and liberalize admission process to include foreigners.
A Mohiniyattom Chair at professorial level can be got instituted in all foreign universities also.
THE AP CONTENTION
As Modern India strides ahead, the Ministry of Culture has given in principle nod to give a classical status to at least one of the 8 major classical dance forms of this country-viz. Kuchipudi, which became a bone of contention between Telangana and Seemandhra, the two slices of the erstwhile AP.
Given a classical status, this dance form shall enjoy global career avenues and its practitioners can obtain faculty positions as professors in universities too. Scholarships shall also be awarded globally by all nations to those that wish to study it in depth at University levels and obtain doctorates in the same.
It’s well-known that Kuchipudi originated in the Krishna District in Telangana, which therefore claims it to be own monopoly and so Andhra Natyam, which got fathered forth in Andhra region and is a temple dance form is being aggressively marketed as a contender for classical status and dignity.
The Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, wishes to grant classical status to both these, primarily owing to the aggressive marketing of both by respective Members of Parliament. The Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma confirmed to Indian media that a proposal to give classical status to Andhra Natyam was under consideration.
Nay, the Ministry is setting up a Special Committee to study the intricacies of this dance form and submit a report on whose basis the classical status shall be granted. This Committee shall comprise reputed artistes and representatives of the Kendriya Sangeet Natak Akademi on board.
The jinx in this affair is that the Sangeet Natak Akademi is not so convinced till date of its eligibility. Andhra Natyam is currently considered a traditional folk dance form and nothing more. Some awards have been instituted too on it on this basis.
“So how can it be considered equivalent to Kuchipudi?” they ask.
Incidentally, and off the cuff , I ‘d like to inform you that Andhra Natyam has been projected as a dance form having centuries of heritage and well known for its grace(lasya) and intense expression of nava rasas. It’s an elegant blend of three main temple linked traditional dances-viz. Devadasi dance, the Darbor dance and the Bhama Kalaapam dance.
According to Mr Venkiah Naidu, who hails from AP, it is suffering for lack of support from Government as well as the public” [Based on a report in ET]
Thank God, Mohiniyattom is already acknowledged to be one of the 8 Classical Dance forms from India, having taken its origin from Kerala State.
Many young women from Kerala, having obtained excellent training for many years here in this dance form, and then settled overseas have taken it upon their own shoulders to be ambassadors of Indian culture in this specialized skill realm.
Both my life partner and I have been extremely delighted to note that our child has also been assiduously propagating this fine art in Hong Kong in the Far East with a prestigious school of her own (www.mudra.life)
In this sense A Greater India is already in existence globally!
Mohiniyattom, the traditional ‘royal and divine dance form’ of Kerala State (which is often referred to as ‘God’s own country’ in the Indian media) represents the cultural legacy and inimitable heritage of that State. Through the ages, Kerala has not only seen but also consciously evolved and jealously maintained a rich dance-drama tradition with varied formats and styles of presentation.
Mohiniyattom reminds the lay viewer outside India also, incidentally, of the majestic swaying of the coconut and palm trees and paddy fields seen across the State of Kerala to this day!
Like many other Indian dance forms, Mohiniyattom is a well-orchestrated and sophisticated classical dance form that represents a vast repertory of human emotions through a fully demonstrated gestural language through its Hastas (Hand gestures) and gentle swaying movements and footwork.
The elusive, subtly nuanced skilled movements made by the performer while performing Mohiniyattom comprise one of the unique characteristics of this dance form. Along with hand gestures, footwork and swaying movements; facial expressions form an indispensable part of this reputed dance form.
The main theme of this classical dance form is ‘devotion and love for God’.
ORIGIN OF MOHINIATTOM
Mohiniyattom is a classical dance form that is estimated to be at least 500 years old. Its origin can be traced back in its present-day format to the 16th century A.D.
[According to Hindu Mythology, in order to put a halt once and for all time for the aggressive incursions and attacks from the evil forces (Asuras/demons), Lord Vishnu came to the rescue of the Devas (Gods), by assuming ‘Mohini’ Roopam (figure of celestial dame), tempting and then coolly eliminating the demons and thus becoming victorious.]
During the Chera Dynasty, Mohiniattom was adopted by the temple dancers (Devadasis) and was known as ‘Dasiyattam’ (“Attam” means “graceful body movements”), which is said to be the precursor of the wonderful dance form, Mohiniattom as we have it today! Ever since then this dance form has remained fully patronized and sponsored by both feudal lords and monarchs.
The word ‘Mohiniattom’ (Mohiniyattam) means ‘Dance of the (divine) Enchantress’.
The evolution of the new Mohiniattom has been primarily from the influence of other art forms like Krishnanattam, Ramanattam, Ashtapadiattam and Koodiyattam in Kerala-all of these art forms purely emphasizing the ‘Satvika Abhinaya’ (natural expression).
HISTORY OF MOHINIATTOM
Mohiniattom attained its utmost significance and a royal halo under the reign of Maharaja Swati Tirunal (1813-1847) of Travancore, whose capital, Thiruvananthapuram, also became subsequently the capital of Kerala State, India in 1956.
Being a gifted artist and genuine art lover, Maharaja Swati Tirunal can be considered as one of the pioneers who paved the way for propagating the social importance of this art form, Mohiniattom among the people.
His dedication to this dance form is reflected in his having composed 20 unique Varnams, 50 Padams and 5 Thillanas exclusively for Mohiniattom performances.
Although it was a widely accepted dance form on those days during all public gatherings, as well as at the houses of the wealthy and the powerful under Maharaja’s reign, the art form did not receive its undue importance once the Maharaja’s reign came to an end. A temporary eclipse followed for several years.
Later in 1930’s, the Maharaja of Cochin kingdom in Kerala, contributed land and building to revive and preserve this significant art form of Kerala. Vallathol Narayana Menon (Kerala poet) started the ‘Kerala Kalamandalam’ (www.kalamandalam.org).
This deemed university –Kerala Kalamandalam– imparts 5 year courses and training today to both Indians and foreigners in this classical dance form-Mohiniattom in addition to allied dance forms that originated in Kerala.
Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma (1915-1999) is considered by general consensus as the ‘Mother of Mohiniattom’ .
She alone was the committed danseuse responsible for bringing the classical format of Mohiniattom into the mainstream array of other Indian classical dance forms and her efforts were fruitful in popularizing the art form to an extent.
The best known proponent of this pure pristine format today in India happens to be Ms Nirmala Panicker of Natana Kairali, in Kerala.
Israel happens to be a small nation in size but as one citizen from that nation—a Territorial Army man– recently told me,
” We Israelis passionately promote our country at any cost wherever we go for studies or for work. We don’t speak ill about it, though we know its severe limitations and small area.
As responsible parents we consider it our bounden sacred duty and obligation to bring up our kids with an outgoing respect and adoration for our own country which we are all willing to die for at any time cheerfully!
“Having arrived here in India four months ago as a tourist and being in admiration a lot for your unique, diverse, time-defying and hybridized culture, I am amused by the little respect that you, Indians, extend to the culture of your mother nation, which is both your fatherland and your mother land with no other to spare! I suggest you learn to LOVE your own nation first beyond your individual selves before arrogating to speak authentically about it! If your give me a choice I would gladly choose to settle here on condition that I am allowed to spend at least 6 months in my Israel as an army man , having come out of her soil and being her son in the first place!”
I was moved to tears on hearing these patriotic and passionate words! I wished we Indians also rose to that gentleman’s passion level on our own if only for the sake of our own future generation!