Spring in the air and in the arts
- Shveta Arora
Photos: Anoop Arora
May 6, 2015
The spring in Delhi is a little prolonged this year as the rains have not let the temperature rise. The flowers in the foyer at Stein Auditorium at IHC enhanced the pleasant ambience of spring. The occasion was Sur Shringar – a festival organized by Yogdan, an NGO which provides livelihood and education to the underprivileged. The artistes of the evening, Madhup Mudgal and Geeta Chandran are masters of their craft and proved that despite performing in front of a packed house, their immersion in their performances and its selfless pleasure is complete.
Geeta Chandran began her performance with a Govinda vandana. The piece was based on a composition by the haveli sangeet poet Hita Hari Vallabha in ragamalika and talamalika, an ode to Lord Vishnu, and enshrines the concept of Sanatana - one in many, many in one. It elaborated on the different aspects of Krishna’s life based on the Bhagavata Purana. Geeta portrayed the four-armed posture of Lord Vishnu with gadaa, padma, shankh and chakra. The lyrics are beautifully synthesized so that words with similar prefixes are juxtaposed - vishvaroopaye vishvakaaye (He embodies the universe), kamalanabhaye (lotus emerging from his navel), kamalapati (goddess Laxmi’s husband). Geeta depicted the reclining posture of the Lord on the sheshnag with Laxmi caressing his feet, the lotus emanating from his navel, the destroyer of demons like Kansa, Keshi and Chanur, and the charioteer of Arjuna (Parthasarthaye namah). He is the cowherd of Vrindavana (Venugopal), with the cows listening spellbound to his flute, as he roams the banks of the Yamuna, his ear ornaments brushing his cheeks. He is the husband of Rukmini and the lover of gopis. And finally, he is the jagat guru who takes you across the sea of worldly mirage.
The next piece was Shringara Vaibhavam. In the season of spring, when love is in the air, shringara becomes the king of all emotions. The choreography began with a canto from Damodara Gupta’s Kuttinimuttam. With fluttering sensuous movements of the hands Geeta depicted Kamadeva as the bee who kisses the face of his consort, which is like a flower with a thousand petals. It is not only humans but also the birds and animals which get affected by Kamadeva’s arrows.
This invocation of Kamadeva was followed by two verses from Kalidasa’s Ritusamhara, sixth canto. Here the lyrics and the dance described Vasant as the warrior or Vasant Yodha (warrior Vasant) for the season. Mango blossoms are his sharp arrows, bees in rows his humming bowstring. Trees (dhrum) laden with flowers (pushp), water (salilam) abounding with lotuses, the air sweetly scented (pawansugandha) – this is what the days are like and the twilight (pradoshakaal) is very pleasant. While the entire creation – flowers, birds, animals – are enjoying their union, the hero and heroine hang up a swing on a tree. The heroine swings up while the hero pushes her swing higher. This was an aesthetically presented piece with spellbinding footwork and facial expressions.
“Natanam aadinar” in ragam Vasantha, a composition by poet Gopalakrishna Bharathi, describes the dance of Nataraja in the golden hall at Chidambaram. The dance is so powerful that the earth shakes with its energy. Geeta did some well-balanced cross-legged lift stances and stances of Shiva with snakes and damaru. She portrayed the eight directions (ashtadisha), creatures on land, in water and in the sky, gazing with reverence and astonishment. She ended the performance with the ever-enchanting sankirtan. Accompanying her were G Raghuraman (flute), MV Chandrashekhar (mridangam), Sudha Raghuraman (vocals) and Guru S Shanker (nattuvangam).
Shveta Arora is a blogger based in Delhi. She writes about cultural events in the capital.