BIRTH CENTENARY OF E. KRISHNA IYER - SRUTI FOUNDATION'S CELEBRATIONS IN DELHI & CHENNAI
The Isai Velalar-s, consisting of the community of traditional dancers and nattuvanar-s, were virtually the sole practitioners of the art of the dance then known variously as Sadir, Dasiattam and Karnatakam. They represented the 'oral tradition' in the transmission of the art from one generation to the next, as distinguished from the textual tradition represented by treatises and commentaries. Hence the appellation of 'custodians of the art' used to describe them. They not only kept the art alive, but contributed variously to its development in terms of repertoire and stylistic changes. By the beginning of the 20th century, definitely, social disapproval of the dance of the devadasi-s and the system of dedication of girls as devadasi-s to temples, began to emerge, especially in the urban centres. This was linked to the perception of the devadasi system as an envelope for prostitution exploitative of women, initially among some Western observers and obliging officials of the British Raj.
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