Thrayambika: Unique tribute to the Devi
- G. Ulaganathan

February 5, 2017

The tall, graceful Kavya Kasinathan caught one’s eye at Rasa Sanje, a daylong festival of classical dances on January 8, organised by Guru Radha Sridhar’s Venkatesha Natya Kala Mandir at JSS Auditorium in Bangalore.

A senior disciple of the brilliant Bharatanatyam dancer Mithun Shyam, Kavya has been making waves in the Bangalore dance circuit of late. She presented ‘Thrayambika’, a novel dance feature inspired by the three divine forms of Devi--the source of knowledge Goddess Saraswathi, the source of strength Goddess Aadi Parashakthi and the giver of wealth and prosperity Goddess Mahalakshmi. After presenting the greatness of each of these Devis, Kavya went on to portray the goddess as the Mother who represents the feminine power. In this, she chose a shabdham in praise of Goddess Saraswathi, a daru varnam in praise of Parashakthi and a Kannada Devaranama dedicated to Mahalakshmi.

The shabdam was a composition of the eminent dancer duo Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi. Kavya could withstand the rigour and ably present the different moods with adequate bhavas and pace. She then went on to present a daru varnam in praise of Goddess Parvathi - Mathe malayadwaja pandya samjathe mathangavadana guha.  In this varnam, she dealt with the interesting story of  how Lord Ganesha received his elephant face, the birth of Muruga and how he became Skanda, a form with 6 faces and 12 hands. This daru varnam was in raga Kamas and composed by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar.

She concluded with a Mahalakshmi Devaranama, written by Purandaradasa. Here, the sakhi was the main character asking Goddess Mahalakshmi - whom are you going to get married to? Ksherabdi kannike Shri Mahalakshmi yarige vaduvaguve?  Is it Sri Rama who crossed the bridge over to Lanka, or is it the rich Sri Srinivasa, or will you marry Udupi Krishna who turned around for his devotee, or do you wish to marry Purushothama who comes to his devotees whenever they call for him, or is to Purandara Vittala? Highly innovative choreography by Mithun Shyam saw Kavya presenting the teasing interludes and the various moods of the goddess admirably. Mithun Shyam himself conducted the nattuvangam and directed the show.

The Rasa Sanje, like it has always been, was a low profile affair this year also and it is remarkable that Guru Radha Sridhar has been organising it year after year for the last 20 years without much corporate support.
G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.