Excerpts from Shakespear's Macbeth in the Kathakali theatre style of South India


CENTRE FOR HINDU STUDIES, OXFORD UNIVERSITY

The Origin, Evolution and Role of two Indian dance styles: Odissi and Bharata Natyam

Inscriptions and texts from all over India suggest that dance was widely associated with temples, religious practices and social conventions in the past. Currently, most classical dances performed on stage in India are based on dances that were earlier associated with both religious and secular practices. Hence they are assumed to share a common ancestry with the earlier temple and secular dances. Bharata Natyam, the classical dance of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, has the best documented history of all the classical styles. There are abundant inscriptions on temples, royal courts records and observations made by European and Indian travelers, as well as firsthand accounts from members of the hereditary dance community (Isai Vellala), the caste of the musicians and dancers. In contrast, despite a history of temple dance in the state of Orissa, Odissi, as seen on the concert stage today, originated in the 1950s-60s. It was a conscious creation by several theatre personalities, former gotipuas (boy actor/dancers) and Orissan nationalists, anxious to have recognition for the state’s unique artistic traditions and to place them within the framework of classical Indian arts. This illustrated lecture explores the different trajectories of the two styles and speculates about how the characteristics of the Odissi style may have been influenced by its unique history.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MATRILINEAL SOCIETIES, CHEGDU, CHINA (Delegate for Interculture, University of Ottawa, 2016)

The role of matrilineal Devadasi families in pre 1947 South Indian Society

In South India until 1947, female Devadasis formed matrilineal families which played an important role in society. Selected from the Isai vellala caste for their beauty and artistry, they were formally married to the temple deity and had important ritual functions. They also studied and performed dance and music. They did not contract a secular marriage but instead were concubines to wealthy patrons. Children born from such unions belonged to the mother, who was economically independent. Property she accumulated was passed to her daughters and households were directed by the senior female. This paper discusses the religious and secular role of matrilineal Devadasis.