News & Notes

26th Edition of Parampara Festival

Is there any Supreme Spirit responsible for this phenomenal universe’s creation, sustenance and dissolution? If so, how does one realise and visualise that cosmic existence transcend the limits of time and space?

Kuchipudi performer Yamini Reddy had been pondering these questions until she chanced upon Pandu Ranga Rao’s book, Universe that is God. The book was inspirational, according to Yamini. The Reddy family set their imaginative minds to work out creative ways to express ideas and find answers to the eternal questions in a dance-drama in the Kuchipudi idiom for the 26th edition of the Parampara festival.

The production finally took shape, and the presentation was an auditory and visual meditation on Lord Venkateswara as a manifestation of the Supreme Spirit of the universe. The Reddys believe that through dance, one can enter a meditative state similar to ritualistic chanting, which can change an individual’s physical and metaphysical status.


While mantras or ritualistic chanting are an auditory manifestation of energy, sacred shapes form their visual counterpart. Sacred geometry is the ancient belief that shapes and mathematical designs lie behind all creation.

The straight line signifies time and growth. The ‘bindu’ is the point from where everything emanates and into which everything dissolves. The circle, with its continuous nature, represents the revolution of the planets, totality manifestation or ether. The triangle stands for Siva’s masculine energy or ‘prajnya’- insight. The inverted triangle shows Sakthi—feminine energy or ‘upaya’—the means. The hexagon, an intersection of the two triangles, represents the cosmic union called ‘evam’, and the lotus symbolises purity and transcendence.

These sacred shapes were explored through nritta by Yamini Reddy, Prakriti Prashant, Noor Kaur Chopra and Pernia Quereshi in Kuchipudi. Here the dancers explored the Supreme being through synchronous movements of the body and fast-paced rhythm, attempting to re-create the sacred shapes.

Aesthetically rendering Geetopadesam, gurus Raja-Radha Reddy presented how the great battle of Mahabharata was fought to restore human values and re-establish dharma/righteousness through the leadership of Lord Krishna or Lord Venkateswara.

While the Geeta is in the form of a dialogue with complete sentences, Vishnu Sahasranamam chants the name of Lord Vishnu. While one text prepares one for poise and purposeful action, the other sums up the good and bad effects of the action and prepares an outline for the establishment of peace amidst chaos and confusion. Chanting in the language of dance as worship was appreciated in the eloquence of silence.

Tarangam or waves—an ancient tradition—was the last piece that lifted the rasikas to realms of complete ‘ananda’. Yamini, Noor, Pernia and Prakriti danced on the rim of brass plates. Their concentration on the rhythmical aspect of the music symbolically lifted them to a level where all worldly gains paled.

On the nattuvangam Kaushalya Reddy with the distinct quality of her sollus, where vocalists Deevi Ravikant and Lavanya Sundaram, mridangist Mamillapalli Chandrakant, violinist V.S.K. Annadorai and flautist Kiran Kumar were at their best.

In the coolness of approaching winter, sarod wizard Amjad Ali Khan created a warming effect in the second half of the evening with alaap and jor in ragas Jhinjoti and Durga. The strumming of the strings of his sarod with his nails created beauty. Percussionist Ramkumar Mishra was a fitting accompanist, pleasing the audience with his tala and laya.


A varnam in Meera bhajan in the Rajasthani language was presented by the well-known Bharatanatyam exponent Rama Vaidyanathan in the first half of the second evening. It was a surprise that regaled connoisseurs. That she was a true follower of the parampara system, where one passes the learnt technique to the next generation after adding something of their own creativity, was discernible in Rama’s rendition. Sudha Raghuraman’s vocal rendition of Jhuk ayi badaria saavan ki in Jog, Varunakriya, Megh Malhar, Vasant and, lastly, Des, was mesmerising. Rama Vaidyanathan’s abhinaya skills were as charming as the crispness in her pure dance.

Vidushi Aruna Sairam, well-known for enunciating each word of the song distinctly while keeping intact her voice modulation, was welcomed by aficionados. She had the rasikas in her grip as they welcomed her choice of songs. Time passed in the twinkle of an eye. The nuances of raga Abhogi, in a composition of Gopala Krishna Bharati and verses of the Devi from Lalita Sahasranamam were savored with relish. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s raga Amritavarshini, and her take on Saint Namdev who turned his maid Janabai into a great devotee, along with Purandara Dasa’s Kannada song Ragi tandira and Oothukadu’s Maadu meikkum Kanna – the shared common culture that came out of her goodie bag were heavenly. She sang a Kalinga Nartana tillana of Oouthukadu Venkata Subbaiyer in raga Nata as the concluding piece.