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Thursday, October 18, 2001

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Evoking Egyptian ethos

Egyptian mythology provides the backdrop and inspiration for the Bharathanatyam recital `Samvada, Hathor and I' by Chitra Chandrasekhar Dasarathy on October 20 at the T.T.K. Auditorium, Music Academy.

THE KALAMANDIR Trust presents ``Samvada — Hathor and I", On the banks of the Nile... in a solo Bharathanatyam performance by Chitra Chandrasekhar Dasarathy on October 20 in memory of its founder S. Viswanathan. The recital will be preceded by a Carnatic vocal concert ``Shakthi Darshanam''on Devi by Rajkumar Bharathi at 6.15 p.m. at the Music Academy's T.T. Krishnamachari auditorium.

Chitra Chandrasekhar Dasarathy, daughter and disciple of Bharathanatyam exponents Jaya and C. V. Chandrasekhar, is a scholar with a deep academic interest in dance. She lives in Saudi Arabia with her husband and two children. She was inspired to produce Samvada after visiting some of the ancient monuments in Egypt. She discovered similarities in Hathor to the Hindu myth of Kamadhenu, the majestic and dignified Goddess, associated with fertility and nourishment. Hathor is represented as a cow — symbolic of the cow that nourishes humanity with its milk. She is depicted like a woman with the horns of a cow, the solar disc balanced between its horns. ``Hathor can be identified and finds a place in practically all the relics of Egypt,'' says Chitra. ``As I walk along I stumble into the magnificence of a pillared hall. Such a hall is common to both the temple at Karnak and the pyramid at Saqqara. Through the pillars, a passage leads me to an open courtyard...I come upon Hathor seated on a pedestal... resplendent in her golden glory. She is the daughter of the Sun, born of his teardrop as it fell on the earth. Her light dispels darkness and our despair."

Though Hathor was regarded as a guardian deity, especially for women in terms of fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, she was invested with many powers that are important to man. She is associated with the inundation of the Nile and is the Goddess of wetness and moisture. No wonder ancient Egyptians used the inundation of the Nile as a reference point in calendars and heralded the new year along with the new waters.

In ``Samvada — Hathor and I'' On the banks of the Nile... Chitra carries on a dialogue with Hathor invoking her with the sound of her feet and ankle bells. She calls with the sounds of her favourite instrument, the Sistrum. The Sistrum and the Menat necklace are used in Hathor's worship and are said to be infused with her power.

The dancer tries to enter Hathor's world, looking at how the lifeline has flown over centuries. With floods destroying everything yet life growing from the silt. The dancer tells Hathor about the potter's wheel, which is seen as a symbol of creation in Egypt as elsewhere in the world. Chitra introduces herself to Hathor and shows her, her own legacy.``Kabir's verse Guru Gobind dou khade... is an affirmation, acknowledgement and continuation of my own legacy.'' She tells Hathor more about her life which is a `labyrinth of emotions — expectations, disappointments, desires and fulfilments' through the Bharathanatyam padams like Netru Varen Enru, verses from Kalidasa's Ritusamharam, Hala's Gatha Sapthasati, a Surdas bhajan and invites Hathor to dance with her. They fall in step together...

Hathor tells her about being the goddess of women and motherhood, of nourishing humanity as the cow, as wetness sustaining life and energy, nurturing love and beauty. Music and dance, says Hathor, are close to her heart. Within her is the capacity to destroy. She gives succour to the dead in the life after. I am still I, says Hathor.

Chitra concludes the dialogue with lyrics taken from Bengali poet Qazi Nazrul Islam, symbolic of her own power to reinvent and recreate.


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