Saturday, October 20, 2012

Navadhanya and its importance in Hindu pooja

Navadhanya is an important part of the various Hindu pooja items. Navadhanya signifies the nine
grains (where ‘Nava’ means nine and ‘Dhanya’ means grains) that are an important part of an
Indian’s staple food. These nine grains include Rice, Wheat, Bengal gram, Horse gram, Green
gram, Black gram, White beans, Chic peas and Black sesame seeds.
Usage of Navadhanya as a Hindu pooja item is a ritual followed during specific occasions such
as the Grahapravesam and also during the Navarathri festival. The number nine signifies the
Navagrahas of the Hindu religion and these nine grains are offered to each one of these
Use of Navadhanya for Grahapravesam:
The Grahapravesam or house warming ceremony is a ritual performed before someone starts
living in a new house. Sometimes, a Grahapravesam may also be performed if the house or a
portion of the house has been rebuilt, or if someone is coming back to live in the house after
being away in a different place for a long number of years.
The objective of performing this ritual is to invoke the blessing of the gods to grant happiness,
peace, prosperity and longevity to the people who are going to live in the house. During this ritual,
the Navadhanya is one of the essential Hindu pooja items. These nine grains are placed in a pot
filled with water along with a one rupee coin and a coconut is then placed on top of the pot. The
holy man then performs the pooja ritual after which this pot is taken inside the house and placed
near the homam (a temporary fireplace built for the ceremony).
Use of Navadhanya during Navarathri festival:
Navadhanya is also an important part of the Navarathri festival which is celebrated for nine
continuous days in worship of the Hindu goddesses. “Kolu” is a significant aspect of this festival
where different idols are arranged such that they signify different stories from the various epics in
the Hindu religion. Pooja will be performed for the idols placed in the Kolu every evening and
neighbors will be invited to visit the Kolu and sign hymns in praise of the gods.
Each evening one of the Navadhanya will be cooked and offered to the deity and visitors in the
form of “Sundal”. The Kolu custom and evening pooja is incomplete without a sundal made from
one of the Navadhanyas. Apart from the spiritual or religious beliefs of well being when using a
Navadhanya, intake of these grains has excellent health benefits as well!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Performing arts degrees from Alagappa University

Alagappa Performing Arts Academy (APAA) an integral part of the Alagappa group of institutions was founded in 2005 by Mr. Ramanath Vairavan, grandson of Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar. The primary objective of APAA is to propagate the exquisite practice of Indian art and culture in their pristine purity and in conformance to tradition.

APAA in its maiden venture has focused on Bharatanatyam, an art that combines artistic expression, vigorous dancing with a sense of spirituality. Students of Bharathanatyam spend years learning the art and perfecting the practice to perform the ‘Arangetram” which is a graduation performance. A student might typically take about 5 to 7 years to perform an Arangetram. If a student were to pursue graduate studies during this time a student should be able to complete post-graduate education. However in pursuit of learning Bharathanatyam, dancers are not awarded degrees or certification for their accomplishment.

APAA in an effort to fulfill this need has developed a structured learning program, using eminent artistes in the field and designed a comprehensive curriculum in performing arts to demonstrate the repertoire of culture that is embedded in these classical arts. The programs have been designed with specific course work and practicals that a student has to successfully complete to get the respective certification. Effective detailed aids have been developed to enhance the learning process with the comprehensive review of the various aspects of the art. From an overview of the various dances in India , to the rudiments of dancing, to clearly depicting the exquisite language of gestures, postures and rhythmical delivery, a student is guided through the various phases of this intricate art with textbooks that concisely explain its relevance and interactive DVDs that vividly describe the precise execution of the art. These valuable learning aids enhance the comprehension and make this a valuable exercise for students to understand the depth and versatility of this art with theory and practicals integrated in a format similar to academic programs.

The teaching aids will initially focus on Bharathanatyam and supplemental aids will be added to other classical dance forms of India such as Mohini Attam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Manipuri. These programs are offered through APAA Authorized Certification Centers (APACs) worldwide to enable students to obtain an undergraduate and post graduate degrees in performing arts. The vision of APAA is to obtain accreditation for this program from renowned Universities in the world, propagate and bring prominence not only to Indian performing arts but also to all other dance and music art forms by offering structured learning programs to students worldwide.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Different styles of Bharatanatyam dance

Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest known classical dances that have been handed down over the years, along with the Indian tradition. It is a form of dance that integrates three major aspects namely Bhava, Raga and Tala. “Bhava” means expression of emotions, “Raga” means music and “Tala” means rhythm. All three entwined together emerge into the vibrant Bharatanatyam dance. Witnessing this classical dance performance with the dancer properly clad in a Bharatanatyam costume, jewelry and make up is truly a sight to behold. It is sure to create an impact and remain etched in your memories forever.

Bharatanatyam dance finds its origin in the state of Tamil Nadu in India and is dated back into centuries. Over the years, this dance has evolved into variants based on the region, culture and religious beliefs and hence manifests itself into different styles.

Some of the styles that root back into the centuries are:
  • Thanjavur
  • Kancheepuram
  • Melattur
  • Vazhuvoor
  • Pandanaloor
  • Mysore

Each one of these styles has its own special significance and differs from the rest in the way in which the major elements of Bhava, raga and tala are utilized. Bharatnatyam itself is ingrained into the Hindu mythological scriptures and most of the dances try to portray those scriptures by means of the dance. These dances use rhythmic movement of the eyes, head, hands, body and legs along with apt expressions. Certain styles of Bharatanatyam may provide more importance to vivid rhythmic movements alone, while some follow a slower depiction with varied facial expressions. Some styles adopt deep-sitting positions while others follow the half-sitting positions.

In the recent years other styles of Bharatanatyam dance such as the Kalakshetra and Balasaraswathi styles have also become prevalent. These are combinations or variations of one or more of the earlier styles of the dance. While the styles of the yester years give more importance for solo dancing, the contemporary styles provide more room for group performances.

Whatever may be the style of dancing; the Bharatanatyam costume and jewelry is extremely important and adds great value to the dancer. Modern day trend presents the Bharatanatyam dress in two different forms: one is the saree or skirt style with the pleats all ready. This needs to be draped appropriately by the dancer. The other is the pyjama style that can be easily worn by the dancer. Both costumes excel in quality and grandeur. Dancers can choose their costume based on the dance style they patronize and the comfort level that they feel for each of these costume styles.