A Report 

Paying homage to the home planet in Yognat style  
September 10, 2004   

Yoganjali Natyalayam presented a scintillating prayer to the Pancha Maha Bhutas or five magnificent elements of nature, during the 98th Jayanthi celebrations for Yogamaharishi Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj on the 4th September 2004 at Pondicherry, South India. A packed house witnessed the two-and-a-half hour dance drama featuring Bharatanatyam, folk dances, and Yogasanas as well as Natya Karanas.
A team of more than 80 dancers, yoga demonstrators, musicians and artisans as well as stage managers worked under the direction of Amma - Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani. Yogacharya Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani and Yogacharini Devasena Bhavanani assisted her in the direction and choreography. Pulavar I Pattabiraman penned lyrics for the dance drama while Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani and eminent musician SV Jagadeesan composed the music.

Dr P Devaraja IFS (Director, Department of Science, Technology and Environment, Govt of Pondicherry), a chief guest of the evening, appreciated Yognat for presenting a topic that is the ‘need of the hour’ in such an entertaining and informative manner. He stressed the importance of conservation of resources and appreciated Amma for taking exemplary steps to help the youth of Pondicherry understand these vital concepts through the Indian cultural arts of dance, music and yoga. 
Another chief guest of the evening, N Sumathi (Director of Art and Culture, Govt of Pondicherry), complimented all the participants on their total involvement and recalled the role of the founding father of Yognat, Dr Swami Gitananda Giri with reverence and appreciation. 
Prof. Vikram Reddy (Head, Ecology and Environment Science at Pondicherry University) and Dr AS Abbasi (Senior Professor, Centre for Pollution Control and Energy Technology) appreciated the planning that went behind the presentation. Dr. Abbasi compared the similarities between environmental concepts extolled in both the Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Koran. Nalini Devi of the Gitananda Yogalayam, Spain, as well as Pulavar I Pattabiraman and SV Jagadeesan offered tributes on the occasion. 
Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani explained the necessity of developing reverential feelings towards the elements that are divine entities that also need to feel loved and revered. ‘When we have reverence for them, we will not misuse them,’ she said eloquently.

Shiva Shakti 

Each of the elements introduced through the respective rhythm and melody and the depiction of the elements arising from the Divine Tandava or interplay between Shiva and Shakti, the great energies of the universe, was artistically depicted by D Lakshmi as Lord Shiva and Padma M Prashanthini as Shakti. SS Lothika, Sri Sahana, L Kanmani, Nivedha Kannan and S Ghayathri depicted Akash (space), Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Apas (water) and Pritvi (earth) respectively. The vibrant depiction of an earthquake by Renuka Devi was also appreciated. Senior dancers of Yognat performed in tandem, the Swara notes and Jathis for the respective elements synchronously in an intricate and spell binding fashion.
Youngsters of Yognat performed a dance with earthen lamps depicting the Deepam festival at Thiruvannamalai as well as an enlivening Kolattam (South Indian stick dance) praising the benefits of pure air. The elephant dance by Tamilarasan was a novelty as also the performance of Kanimozhi as Kannappa Nayanmar. 

Elephant dance
Deepam at Thiruvannamalai

Yognat strives to keep alive the mythology and cultural heritage of Tamilnadu among young children. The world we are leaving behind for the next generation is starved of the many resources that we have seen disappearing before our own eyes. Hopefully the drama will awaken the right spirit of preservation in the next generation especially in a country such as ours. 

Presenting the concept of our interdependence on Mother Nature, through the rich cultural heritage medium of Indian dance, music and mantras, is the need of the hour to hopefully create an awareness in the public, of the need to preserve Nature for the greater good of humanity.

This year’s production was the tenth major dance drama by Yognat in the past 10 years and its twenty-fifth dance drama in all. The Yognat troupe has also presented fifteen mini dance dramas in the past 18 years since the formation of the Yognat dance troupe.