Chaula Devi - a soothing visual treat
- Shobana Raj, NY

October 23, 2005

Dance, music and drama filled the hearts of New Jerseys art lovers, as Shubanjali School of Performing Arts, carried them into a magical experience for 3 hours to experience the history behind Chaula Devi, the story of a 14th century temple dancer of the Somnath temple.
Standing tall and proclaiming the magnificence and prosperity of Gurjardesh to the world even today, is the majestic temple of Somnath, believed to have been built in the 11th century AD. The Somnath temple stands as a symbol of unity, the urge to protect cultural wealth, the mind to stay free from foreign invasion and most of all the untiring efforts of connoisseurs of art and sculpting, to keep the architectural wonder alive, forever.

One such lover of art who wrote about the golden Solanki period and its memorable history was Shri Gaurishankar Joshi, popularly known as Shri Dhoomkethu. True to his name meaning comet, each of his historical works zoomed through many hearts and made him a famous writer of Gujarathi literature.

Considered the best of his works, is the story of a simple temple dancer or devadasi of the Somnath temple, called Chaula Devi who inspired the King to unite the land, encouraged art and literature to flourish and fulfilled her dream of re-building the glorious Somnath temple destroyed by foreign invasion.

Dhinubhai Dave was inspired to write the screenplay in a theatric form and his dream of staging this 3 hour huge historical production was successfully met on the 15th of October at the Union County Arts center, Rahway, New Jersey, by the Shubanjali school of Performing Arts and its founder-director Suba Ramesh Parmar who fit the role of Chaula Devi with a vivacity that goes beyond mere technique.

Under the able direction of Dinubhai Dave's daughter, the respected educationist Dr. Vandana Jani, about 800 people were taken on a time machine to witness the glory of Gujarat, with magnificent stage sets, gorgeous costumes depicting the royal period, numerous dancers well trained by Suba Parmar and several aspirants of acting doing an experienced job like professionals. Be it the lively music by a team of adept musicians or the portrayal of all nine emotions or navarasas in one scene after another, with love for the land depicting veera rasa, the King's wrath against his overpowering minister depicting raudhra, the funny watchman Lundraj contributing to hasya, the ferocious kapalik bringing beebatsa, the King's love for Chaula symbolising sringara and so forth, a whole gamut of sentiments with enjoyable variety satisfied all human senses.

The breathtaking Angahara dance by Suba Ramesh Parmar and the vibrant tillana in the court of King Bhimdev and the opening scene depicting the arrival of Devadasis from the South was spectacular in terms of choreography, costumes and elaborate stage setup.
This humble tribute to Dhoomketu will forever stand testimony to the interest in people's minds even today, to enjoy their historical glory, to cherish their rich values, to celebrate the freedom to grow culturally and the passion to re-live such traditional wonders as a guide for posterity. Notwithstanding the passage of time and the technical developments in this automated, super fast world, Chaula Devi was a soothing visual treat and last Saturday is surely a day to remember for many art loving hearts that were brought together!