Sunday, January 10, 2010

A bit of this, a bit of that

On behalf of every one at My Room, I wish all of you a very happy and prosperous 2010. Hope all of you had a wonderful time with family and friends this holiday season. For me, it was wonderful as I met a lot of my relatives and friends after a long time. I did not get much time to blog. But now that I am back, I intend to get back to my writing.

My children had quite a long Christmas and New Year break and I tried to take them to various places. It is quite a challenge to keep budding minds engaged and stimulated. Last night, we went to see a Kathak recital and we came back thoroughly enchanted. Kathak, which means to tell a story, is a major classical dance form of North India. In ancient India,the kathakars or the story tellers would perform in the village squares and temples and narrate mythological or moral tales. To enhance their performances, they would use musical instruments like the tabla and the sitar, and also sing along. During the Mughal times, the Royal court patronized this art form. The dance form slowly changed from telling religious stories to entertainment.The dancers however were intelligent. Some were great poets and writers and all of them were trained in etiquette. Sometimes the nobility would send their children to learn the correct manners and civility from these courtesans. It was only in the British times the kathak dancers were branded as mere prostitutes and the society started looking down on them. However after the Independence, there has been a revival of this mesmerising dance form.

Last evening, a highly respected Kathak dancer and teacher Rajashree Shirke  and her troupe  performed in an auditorium in Mumbai. She has been doing great work with some underprivileged children of the city. She and an NGO in the city are providing training in kathak to girls who otherwise would only dream of learning dance from such respected masters. I was very impressed with the girls who performed last night. Most of them came from extremely poor backgrounds. Last night, few girls walked on stage to get their certificates along with their mothers. It was a joyous moment for the entire family and many eyes in the auditorium were moist to see these girls, dressed in their finest dance costumes proudly walking on stage with their heads held high. I wish I could capture their expressions on camera but unfortunately photography was not permitted inside the auditorium.

To express their gratitude to the lady who spends so much time and effort in training these girls, the NGO felicitated her with a beautifully hand crafted Kashmiri shawl. She was also given a coconut. Those of you who may not be aware, a coconut is a very sacred symbol of Hinduism. It is the most common offering in Hindu temples. We offer coconuts on ocassions of weddings and other important religious rituals.The breaking of a coconut symbolises breaking of the ego. The juice represents our inner desires and the soft kernel our minds. Both are offered to the Lord for purifying.

As every part of the coconut tree, the trunk, the leaves, the coir, the fruit etc are used up by humans, a coconut to Hindus symbolises selfless love.It grows on salty water of earth and converts it into nutritive water.No wonder the people running the NGO offered a coconut  to the guru. She through her dedication and training is single handedly transforming the lives of some girls. In this New Year, I only hope there are more selfless people like her, who can change, the destiny of less fortunate people.



  1. Kavita - Stopping by to wish you a very happy new year.
    Thanks for sharing so much on the Assamese weddings - I enjoyed it.

  2. I like the analogy of coconut at the end. Happy New Year.

  3. I wish you could have photographed the dance, I can only imagine how beautiful it was.

    I had no idea about the coconut. I've heard them referred to in a deferential manner, but never knew why. Now I know and I will be more aware of this tradition!

    Welcome back, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year ... and that 2010 is going well for you.

  4. In spite of the fact that Indian dance forms depend heavily on stories I love these dance forms. But it is truly an art to be savored unlike the alternatives that take precedence these days!
    I sometime pass by the program... so you think you can dance... and trust me I would never put my money or time into that

  5. Happy New Year to all of you. Interesting about the Kathak dancers. It reminds me very much of the Japanese geisha that ended up getting a reputation as prostitutes but were really very skilled and accomplished dancers, singers, etc. They had to be very intelligent to keep the interest of the men they entertained at the Geisha Houses. It's so hard to explain a culture.

    Hawaiians used every part of the coconut, too. This was such an interesting post.

  6. what a lovely story of the dancers teaching the youth...liked the symbolism of the coconut also. fascinating.

  7. Wonderful writing and great photos. Keep the good work.

  8. Hey! Glad to hv u bk :) A very very happy new yr to u too :)
    Loved the part abt the coconut .. u hv explained it in such simple words and so well :)

    Hats off to the Guru and the NGO .. God bless them all :)
    Its so nice that u r taking ur kids to such nice pgms :)

  9. Dance and music really help you reach divinity and what can be better than help the less fortunate realize it.Good work NGO.

  10. Corinne, on behalf of Kavita, I thank you. Wishing you a happy new year.

    Pramathesh, thank you so much. Happy new year to you too.

    Haddock, thank you.

    Clytie, I went to the auditorium armed with my camera! Unfortunately the organizers felt the flash would distract the young girls.
    Thank you so much, I wish you a wonderful 2010 too.

    Suman, I too love the Indian classical dance. My younger daughter is learning kathak, the older one learned Odissi. I am a big fan of kathak.

    Kay, you are right, the kathak dancers were a lot like the Japanese geisha, it is rather difficult to explain the concept to another culture.

    Lin, thank you.

    Half India, thank you, though the photographs I admit are not mine.

    Swaram, thank you. I am glad you like the post.

    Holy Lama, the NGO incidentally does not ask for donation. It just expects us to be an appreciative audience.

  11. Welcome back, Kavita! Do you feel rejuvenated?!

    I missed your posts! I have learnt many new different culture and arts of our country, through your posts.

    I never knew these things about coconut till now. I know that all parts of coconut are edible. Coconut is used in auspicious functions. Nice.

    I like Kathak dancing and knew nothing about the origin...Thank you again.

    The dance teacher is really great. It is very expensive to learn dancing. The children are lucky.

  12. Happy New Year, Kavita, god bless you and your family!

  13. umm dancing around gathering information n knowledge for the growing minds ... good job ... :-)

  14. That was really enchanting read. I didn t know that about coconut. Next time i offer one i would remember and that would make my offering that much more valuable. Infact most people dont know this about coconuts offered at temples.
    Nice;y written. Wish you too a great year ahead.TC:)

  15. That was beautiful and what a lovely way to wish all the readers a happy new year and the analogy of the coconut at the end truly rock sis!!

  16. Great one and inspirational, I wish we should preserve these historical arts of ancient India.

    Thanks for sharing and wish you very happy and prosperous days ahead in 2010.

    I'm back to the Blogging World after a short break. Invite you to visit my renewed page and leave your comments.

  17. New yr 2010 to u as well. :-) My 1st time here. Loved it. Ill be back.

  18. Sandhya, thank you. A happy new year to you too.

    Deeps, thank you.

    ZB, most of us do not know about the coconuts. I once asked a priest and he explained.

    Sujata, thanks:D

    Jarlin,indeed India is a country full of beutiful traditions.

    Anand, thank you and welcome to our page.

  19. Very interesting post. I think Indians are a beautiful people and India is a great nation!

  20. happy new year kavita..thanks for sharing glimpses of your wonderful holidays....specially The kathak eve.

  21. That was really informative Aparna. Yes, Kathak is a beautiful dance form, I am sure the programme was a lot of fun. And though we offer coconuts in the temple, I never knew the belief attached to it. Thanks for the enlightenment :)

  22. Lovely piece, well supported by photographs.

  23. apparna, Happy New Year and Happy Shankraanti! Sometimes, I bungle up and I did it here, sorry! Anyway, Happy New year to all of you and your family!!

  24. Happy and Prosperous New Year! I liked reading about the Kathak and cocunut. Nice post! :)

  25. Gigi Hawaii,


    Destiny's child,



    Chandrika Shubham,

    Thank you every one for your beautiful comments. Your encouragement will always be appreciated.