Dance devoted to Hinduism | Daily News


Dance devoted to Hinduism

Some sections of Sri Lankan Tamils feel that they must develop a separate classical dance form of their own. They feel that Bharatha Natyam is an Indian classical dance form. Those who make such claims are ignorant and don't have any deep knowledge of the traditional Tamil culture.

They must realise that Bharatha Natyam is essentially a Tamil dance of Tamil Nadu fostered and developed in the Tamil country over centuries and it is a part of Tamil heritage and culture. Above all, it is deeply rooted in Hindu religious philosophy. Hence it is not only a linguistically based dance but also a religious dance form. The majority of the Sri Lankan Tamils are Hindus who are preserving and practising this art form with full devotional faith.

The expatriate Tamil community has carried the religion, language, literature, music and their social customs to their new homes. They have earnestly preserved and fostered these traditional Tamil links. The terms Bharatha Natyam is often referred to as Bharatham.

Bharatham is derived from the Tamil words Bavam, ragam and thalam. Bharatha Natyam is the classical dance form of Tamils wherever they live. The place and the area where they live is immaterial for the community to carry out their cultural activities and preserve their cultural heritage.

Bharatha Natyam is the classical dance form of Tamils. It has its grace, charm, and standing in the international spheres. But a dance form differs from region to region, place to place, district to district and any community formulating a dance form for amusement is called folk dance. This locally-based custom and dance form is called folk dance form of the area.

This folk dance varies from place to place. According to Natya Sastra, the dance forms which are confined to a particular Pradesh is called Desidance. The Desi dance forms do not insist on strict adherence. Desi reflects regional, religious and social influences prevailing among the local population. Therefore, Desi is a regional dance and never acquired international recognition. Anybody can formulate a folk dance based on the regional and other values of society.

Any dance form which transcends the international barriers acquires international recognition is known as Margi. Any classical dance form is firmly rooted in cultural tradition, philosophy and religion are called Margi. Margi developed over the centuries have specialised with sophisticated techniques. Bharatha Natyam is certainly a Margi form of dance.

Bharatha Natyam evolved over centuries is regarded as one of the classical and national dance forms of India. But it does not distract from the view that it is essentially a Tamil classical dance form. No one has ever suggested that the expatriate Tamils have to develop a dance of their own. Such a suggestion is preposterous. Some argue that spoken Tamil and their social practices differ from place to place and region to region.

But it differs from one area to another area within the same country. The written Tamil grammar and the alphabetical letters remain the same. So too the traditional classical music and classical dance form. Similarly, Tamils have their folk dances which vary from place to place according to the social customs. But it is impossible to advocate that the expatriate Tamils must develop a different classical dance form.

A classical dance form must substantially adhere to the principles of Natya Sastra. To develop a separate dance form one must understand that distinct literature and deep religious philosophy are needed.

Above all, separate music (different from the Carnatic music) must be created for this need, and a system of Thala structure should be found. It means such a dance form needs grammar and idiom of its own.

Self-styled dances which are practised by the present generation teachers and students in the name of so-called creative dances and modern dances cannot be considered as rich classical oriental dance forms. This shows their poor knowledge of the classical dance.

India is the home for 55 million Tamils and Sri Lanka is geographically separated by the sea by 18 miles. The Indian influence has inevitably continued to dominate the Sri Lankan Tamil culture. A separate classical dance for Sri Lankan Tamils will remain a pipe-dream.