|In his Castes and Tribes of Southern India,
Thurston tells how a devadasi retired from her profession. First she had
to apply to the temple authorities, for ‘permission to remove her ear
pendants’ which meant that she wished to retire. The retirement ceremony
then took place in the Maharaja’s palace. “At the appointed spot, the
officers concerned assemble, and the woman, seated on a wooden plank,
proceeds to unhook the pendants and places them with a nuzzar (gift) of 12 fanams
(coins) on the plank. Directly after this, she turns about and walks
away without a second glance at the ear ornaments which have been laid
down. She immediately becomes taikkizhavi or old woman and is
supposed to lead a life of retirement and resignation.” The pendants
were later returned to her but she never wore them again.
(‘The Music of India’ by Reginald Massey, Jamila Massey)
|Karanam is a technical term, derived from its Sanskrit route, kr -
meaning ‘to do.’ In short, it is a unit of dance which was the basis for
concert items in ancient times. The karanam is generally mistaken to be
a static pose. As it is a combination of the three elements, namely
cari (movement for the legs), nrtta hasta (gesture for hands) and stanam
(posture for the body), it is a full movement and not a static concept.
Thus a karanam can be compared with the adavu of contemporary dance.
Just as many adavus make a tirmanam and many tirmanams an item,
according to the number of karanas specified, they were called kalapaka,
matrka, bhandaka, sanghataka and angahdra. To compare it with the
components of language, the elements of karanas are alphabets, the
karanas are words and the rest are phrases and sentences.
(‘The Role of Dance Sculptures in Tamilnadu,’ Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, in paper presented at Second International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, Chennai, 1968)
|Nautch girls were a prominent part of Indian life and culture during the
second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Nautch
girls danced for a variety of people that included women and children in
addition to men of virtually all social classes. They performed in
Mughal courts, the palaces of nawabs, the mahals (castles) of rajas, the
bungalows of officers of the British Raj, the homes of nobles, the
havelis (mansions) of zamindars (landowners) and many other places. They
were invited to perform at parties, weddings, christenings, religious
ceremonies, and many other social occasions. Nautch girls did not need
an invitation to perform at religious festivals. They would show up to
perform at the homes of their wealthier patrons who were obliged to pay
them. While travelling from one city to another, they would often hold
impromptu dance performances on roads, streets and thoroughfares to
entertain the masses, make some money and secure free room and board.
Nautch girls served the entire spectrum of people in India, across all
regions, social classes, castes and religions.
(‘The Nautch’ by Ally Adnan, The Friday Times, Aug 1, 2014)