News flash: The scheduled post on this blog has been interrupted to bring you a special feature on the occasion of International Dance Day.
I’ve been planning to write a post on dance from a really long time as I’m very passionate about it, but it never came together – until now. April 29th being International Dance Day, it has provided the perfect opportunity for me to talk about dance. As Friday is the day I normally post fiction, I’ve combined the two themes and decided to present the story of Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance. This is my interpretation of the ancient myth.
A long, long time ago, in the early hours of a spring morning in the beautiful land of Chidambaram, a man of the most striking appearance materialised. He had flowing, matted hair and on his head rested the crescent Moon. The great river Ganges strained against his locks. Snakes coiled and uncoiled restlessly around his body. In the palm of one his hands, he held the sacred fire and in another, he clasped a small drum. The anklets on his legs jingled rhythmically as he walked. He had descended into the mortal world from Kailasam to fulfil a promise he had once given. He made his way to the hall with the golden roof and a crowd of spectators shadowed him.
The drum shook in his hand and produced the beats to which his body swayed. His limbs moved with perfect synchronisation as he picked up the pace. As the tempo climbed higher and higher, fire erupted around him, but it did little to slow him down. Encircled in a ball of flame, he danced to the tune of destruction. His legs struck the ground with such force that the ground split beneath his feet. The impact was so powerful that even the mountains shook. The rivers trembled and spilled onto the banks. Lightning forked across the darkened skies and torrential rain unleashed its fury on the earth.
The rhythm slowed and so did the Lord of dance. His movements morphed seamlessly into a soft, graceful style. The universe began to renew itself as the song mellowed down. The tropical sun shone through the windows of the hall. The rivers went back to their unhurried pace. The denizens of the world gathered around to witness the performance showered him with praise. His movements concluded in an elegant pose as he raised his hand in a blessing, and the cosmos stood still with him for a heartbeat.
The above story is a metaphorical example of just how influential dance can be in life as it is in mine. I’ve been learning the beautiful dance form of Bharatanatyam, the oldest among Indian classical dances of South India, since the age of 8. My biggest inspiration is my guru, Smt. Gayathri Keshavan, who has patiently taught me for 12 years (and counting).
I would like to sign off by wishing everyone a very happy International Dance Day!