Indian dance forms have been closely connected with temples as a part of
rituals. There are innumerable inscriptional, archeaological, literary
and other evidences to suggest the close links between dancing and temples.
The Brihadishwara temple at Tanjore has inscriptions mentioning names,
streets where devadasis lived and even the terms of payments and specific
occasions on when they had to perform in temples.
Orissa, the Maharis or counterparts of the devadasis of Tamil region, performed
in temples and even today they offer token services. Koodiyattam, a theatrical
form of Kerala is staged in the temple halls during temple festivals in
Koothambalams or theatre halls attached to the theatre. The magnificent
Natamandapa of Konarak temple in Orissa offers one an example of glorious
tradition of dancing in the temples.
the post-independent era, with the popularity gained by the classical dance
forms, a few temple sites were identified by some enterprising beaurocrats
in the departments of culture to start dance festivals with a view to bring
dance and temple close to each other once again. The most successful and
exclusive festival of classical dance for more than 20 years is held at
Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh with the temples as a backdrop in March. Soon
other states followed suit. Today, almost every state in India has at least
one dance festival held at an exquisite archaeological site bringing alive
the eloquent sculptures through the medium of dance.From the Mamallapuram
Festival in Tamilnadu to the Konarak celebrations in Orissa, these cultural
events have become the magnet for tourists and performers and a showcase
for the best dance talents of India. A variety of dance styles spread over
one week provides the casual visitor and the connoisseur the ideal opportunity
to grasp the splendour and subtlety of a living performance tradition.