The hallowed precincts of Lord Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram started reverberating with the 33rd edition of the Natyanjali festival from Thursday.

The five-day event that would go on till March 3 would feature performances of exponents, drawn from various parts of the country as well as from abroad, of classical dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Koodiyattam and Mohiniattam.

It would also feature “Param,” a dance ballet and Saptha Thandavam. The schedule is a fair mix of individual as well as group performances, each lasting about 20—25 minutes.

On the inaugural day, being Maha Shivratri, the event started at 5.30pm and went on non-stop till 4.50am on Friday.

Madras High Court Judge Justice V. Ramasubramanian in his chief guest address said that the Judges were commonly referred to as “Needhi Arasars” (Kings of Justice) dispensing justice in the court of law or “sabha.” But Lord Nataraja who was lording over the entire universe was hailed as the “Sabha Nayagar” or King of Kings. Justice Mr. Ramasubramanian further said, the “Dance of Lord Nataraja actually portrays the elementary particles in their eternal and constant dance of creation, preservation and dissolution.”

The Judge further said that the parallel between Shivas’ dance and the dance of atomic particles was first discussed elaborately by Fritjof Capra, an Austrian born American physicist and founding director of the Centre for Eco Literacy at Berkeley, California, titled “The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu view of matter in the light of modern physics” published in 1972.

Capra explained the connection between modern physics and eastern mysticism. Shiva’s cosmic dance thus became the central metaphor in his international best-seller “The Tao of Physics,” first published in 1975 and was still in print in over 40 editions around the world.

For the modern physicists the dance of Shiva is the dance of subatomic matter.

The Judge also noted that on June 18, 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN (European Centre for Research in Particle Physics) in Geneva.

“The 2-metre tall statue of Lord Nataraja, given by the Indian Government, is a dancing deity representing the cosmic cycle of creation and dissolution and also depicting the dynamic of subatomic particles, the basis of creation of the universe that is being researched by physicists the world over,” the Judge said.

Leading artists such as Padma Subramanian, Nartej Singh Johar and Geeta Chandran staged their performances on the inaugural day.

Chidambaram Natyanjali Trust president A.K. Natarajan and Secretary A. Sambandam, organisers of the event, and V.S. Shivakumar Dikshithar participated.