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Mesmerising dance-drama on Lord Karthikeya’s life presented by Bhavani’s Prasannalaya students

Invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva, the God of music and dance before commencing the dance-drama 'Guruguham'

For any organization it is a proud occasion and great honour to celebrate its foundation day. Bhavani’s Prasannalaya dedicated to teaching Indian classical dance did this in style recently by presenting an enchanting dance drama performance by its students titled “Guruguham”.

Helmed by Guru Bhavani Anantharaman, a well-known exponent of Bharatanatyam, the performance showcasing India’s rich culture and tradition was centered on Lord Karthikeya. It brought to the fore through stories and legends this God’s valour, wisdom, and divine grace.

Before delving on the show and performance of the students, one point needs to be highlighted. The enthusiasm and chutzpah of the participants and their parents was clearly evident and it was so infectious that even the audience in the jam-packed Karthyayini auditorium in Delhi’s Mayur Vihar, became a part of the proceedings. This speaks volumes about the institution, its Guru and her pupils.

The main theme of the evening — life of Lord Karthikeya – was presented in four acts. The first portrayed his birth, the next deals with sibling rivalry between him and Lord Ganesha his brother, the third was Soorasamharam, that is slaying of demon Soorapadman and last was Valli Thirumanam, Lord Murugan’s marriage to Valli, daughter of Nambirajan, the king of Kuravas or the hill tribes.

Seeking Lord Ganesha’s blessing for the performance

Before enacting these four slices from the life of the God, the evening started by invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha followed by Dhyana sloka on Lord Shiva. This presentation saw all the students of Bhavani’s Prasannalaya coming together – from those trained for two decades and those who started recently with the institution. It was a sight to behold, with all of them dressed elegantly and performing in unison and portraying Nature’s creation and beauty in the form of trees, creepers, flowers, honey bees, deer, peacock and other creatures.

Alarippu was the next piece which symbolized offering to God and audience with the dancers playing peacock. They emoted India’s national bird’s demeanour and movement so beautifully that the audience got warmed up for the main show.

Lord Karthikeya fighting the demons including the dreaded Soorapadman and slaying them

The main presentation on Lord Kartikeya saw students from diverse age groups enacting the roles of Murugan, Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati and others. Speaking to India Narrative, Guru Anantharaman said: “I don’t believe in the idea of making one or two kids, hero and heroine in an hour-long dance drama presentation. I would like to give more opportunities to more kids. Hence I divide the storyline into minimum 5  to 6 episodes/scenes/sequences. Though the hero is one, he is played by various kids in various episodes. I also engage in theatre techniques to encourage students to enact scenes vividly which allows them to imagine and understand the concept of Navarasa (the nine emotions) which is an integral part of Bharatnatyam.”

It was significant to observe senior dancers matching the agility of the younger ones while the latter also showed equal confidence on stage while performing with the former. When asked by India Narrative how she did it, Guru Anantharaman said: “Bhavani’s Prasannalaya students are grouped by their progress in the prescribed syllabus and not according to age and thus often, mothers and daughters are classmates. During rehearsals neither myself nor the students take any notice of the difference in our ages.”

Guruguham Kolaattam
Elements of Kolaattam dance style in the performance shows use of sticks

The presentation which was essentially based on Bharatanatyam also saw liberal use of folk dance and music. Use of sticks and clapping by the dancers provided a certain rhythm and made the evening truly engaging. Elaborating on this Anantharaman explained to India Narrative: “We used Kolaattam and Kummi dance style which is an ancient village folk art performed in Tamil Nadu. An amalgamation of rhythmic movements, songs and music, this form is performed during local village festivals offering a great variety of entertainment to spectators and also the participants.”

Guruguham6 Kummi
Talking a leaf from the Kummi traditional style, the dancers used clapping to provide rhythm to their performance

She added that it was not difficult to blend this style with Bharatanatyam and its use allowed to highlight the tales of Karthikeya better as this folk tradition defines Murugan worship in its own way.

Guruguham7 Wedding
The joyous occasion of Lord Karthikeya’s wedding with Valli Thirumanam being enacted by the dancers

The ensemble who made the performance memorable included Vidvan Elangovan Govindarajan (vocal), Vidvan Manohar Balatchandirane (mridangam), Vidvan V.S.K. Annadurai (violin) and A. Sathivika who ably presided over the ceremonies by compering as well as participating in some of the scenes.

During the event mention was also made about students of Bhavani’s Prasannalaya who’s dancing skills have been recognized on other forums. While one has represented her college in inter collegiate competitions and won prizes and also the best dancer award, another got admission in a prestigious Delhi University college under Extra Curricular Activities quota.

Guruguham8 Guests
Chief Guest R. Sathiyasundaram, Additional Commissioner in Delhi Police and Special Guest K.V.K. Perumal, President of Delhi Kamban Kazhagam with the participants

The function ended with Chief Guest R. Sathiyasundaram, Indian Police Service officer who is Additional Commissioner in Delhi Police and Special Guest K.V.K. Perumal, President of Delhi Kamban Kazhagam, addressing the gathering respectively. Both praised the performance and congratulated the students and the institution for their success.

Also read: Scintillating performance by Guru Bhavani Anantharaman’s students enthral audience