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Devalaya Aaradhana Natyams (Temple Rituals)
(Simhanandini, Mayura Kauthvam, and Mahalaxmi Udbhavam dances)
- Voleti Rangamani, Hyderabad

February 5, 2006

These are the most ancient dance depictions of temple dances in Kuchipudi style. Traditionally divine dancers used to perform these dances during festive occasions in the temples during ancient time. My father, the late Kuchipudi dance guru, C R Acharya had conducted research and brought back this dance form to limelight. He had referred to several ancient scripts, interviewed several temple dancer generations to study this dance form thoroughly. Apart from helping him in his research work and successfully bringing back to limelight, the complicated Raga, Tala and Jatis of this dance form, I have been responsible for giving proper shape to the choreography and technical details in this unique art, matching to the modern stage.

This dance form existed till late 18th century. Temple dancer Shamalambal of Kondiparampara lived in 17th century, near Mannanguda of Thanjavur district of earthwhile Madras state. She was great dancer cum Astrologer. She used to dance in a Devi mandir for the song based on Simhanandini Tala. While dancing, she used to form the picture of a lion, a Vaahana of Goddess Kaali or Durgadevi, with foot work on Rangoli powder, sprinkled on the floor, in front of the deity of Goddess Durgadevi on chariot (Rath), just before starting of Rath Yatra (Chariot procession). It was customary those days for divine dancers to dance in front of the Rath, just before the start of Rath Yatra. Her grand daughter Smt. Kamalambal, who lived till late 18th century, used to perform all these three dances Simhanandini, Mayura Kauthvam and Mahalaxmi Udbhavam (The names of these dances were not the same at that time) in Kamalambal Temple which is in the premises of Thyagarajaswamy temple of Thanjavur Dist., a noted pilgrimage for the devotees of Lord Siva. Kamalambal has learnt music from Mayuram Sabesaiyer and dance from Gopalakrishna Nattuvanar. Her maternal grand daughter P R Thilagam Ammal (85 years) a scholar and great classical singer is presently living in Thanjavur.

Dancers performing Simhanandini, Mayura Kauthuvam and Mahalakshmi Udbhavam Dances

In Simhanandini dance, the dancer forms the picture of LION, Vaahana of Goddess Durgadevi, with work on color powder, sprinkled on the floor. Likewise in Mayura Kauthvam dance, the dancer forms the picture of PEACOCK, Vaahana of Lord Kumaraswamy (Murugan) and in Mahalaxmi Udbhavam dance, the dancer forms the picture of Goddess Laxmidevi's LOTUS with foot work.

Some dancers, who have not learnt this dance form in an authentic manner are trying to imitate this in a very awkward manner and spoiling the authenticity of this dance form.

Voleti Rangamani is the director of Abhinaya Darpana Arts Academy in Hyderabad. Her students are performing these dances successfully under her guidance, in India and other parts of the world like U S A, UK, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia etc.

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