Prayer for peace
- Devayani, New Delhi
e-mail: devayani_dance@rediffmail.com


October 13, 2004

In a world where conflict prevails and where political leaders seem to fail in establishing peace, culture, which is a common language of people around the world, brings the East and the West together.

The French author Andre Malraux wrote: “Culture is what remains when one has forgotten everything”. I say: “Culture is a superior sense of intelligence which wants to unite and bring people together in a peaceful and harmonious way”.
I was recently selected to represent India at the World Culture Open in South Korea for Traditional Indian Dance - Bharata Natyam. The event was held from 11th to 16th September 2004 in Seoul and was inspired by the 11th of September 2001 attacks in New York. It was a tricolor story of movement, sound and expression where 44 countries participated coming together as ONE.

Whereas all the other countries represented had large teams or troupes, I, Devayani, born in France, had come alone to be “The participant from India” and bring to this “Cultural Olympiad” my own choreographies of Bharata Natyam and to express through the medium of this ancient Traditional Dance Art, my message of Peace and Harmony.

It was a unique experience, which lead to many thoughts ……

Since I started my Odyssey with India, my belief has been that Bharata Natyam is a universal form of art - perhaps the oldest, nearly 3000 year old traditional dance art - because of its inherent beauty, spiritual power and profound serene message of human and devotional love. I believe that, “Art is the most powerful medium and form of expression to unite people from all countries and cultures”. That is what I have dedicated to my dance performances in India and on the international scene.

During this event, I came across a number of participants from various countries: US, Australia, Brazil, France, Kenya, Mali, Sri Lanka etc. and became particularly close to a troupe from Greece and a troupe from China. This was the most satisfying aspect of my stay in Korea: we shared, we exchanged, we respected each other's work. It was obvious that every one who had been selected to participate in this event had come with a mission and not to tear each other apart.

In India in a competitive environment, the harmonious relationship and understanding between artists is a unique feature. It is my conviction that the artists of the world are an important medium, instrument and force in bringing about better understanding between people of different countries and diverse cultures.


Born in France, Devayani is a Bharatanatyam dancer who has made New Delhi her home.