Monday, January 29, 2007

The days are just packed

Nice things this weekend. One excellent documentary on elephants, the Federer-Gonzalez final, a sitar recital and the icing, a temple dance.

So rare these days to see living arts. We see dance performed of course, but it was satisfying to see it as part of ritual, as integral to prayer, to living. Temple dance sank earlier this century along with the morass of the Devadasi system surrounding it, and what we attended yesterday may or may not have been the authentic thing, but it was fascinating anyway.

It was a Iyengar temple for Lord Ranganatha, and the occasion an annual 8-day Brahmotsava. The dancers circled the temple premises, the priests placed offerings, recited shlokas and invoked 11 deities, with invitations to come grace the festivities. There was Brahma, Garuda, Indra, the elements Agni, Varuna, Vayu, the yaksha Kubera.... Among the directions was Ishan, whom the dancers interpreted mainly as Shiva. There was another whom I hadn't heard of at all: Neruti or Nairutya. Apparently the god of the south-west, a rakshasa-god in charge of controlling the egos of the gods. And his vehicle? Man, or rather, higher man. Not a very high profile chap, wonder why that is. Reminds me strongly of Pratchett on gods and fashions, but too lazy to go look up and quote now.

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