Gudi Sambaralu Dance

Sita Parityagam: Dance and Divinity

Kapila Venu

Kapila Venu

The atmosphere was just right. The backdrop was a centuries’ old temple, the women looked ethereal in their fetching silks and the performer was a flag-bearer of a 2000-year-old performing art. Under the aegis of Gudi Sambaralu, renowned artist Kapila Venu performed excerpts from Sita Parityagam at the majestic precincts of the Sitaram Bagh temple in the old city and had the audience hooked to the tempo and tapestry of her art.

Friends Shashi Reddy and Srinagi Rao started Gudi Sambaralu in 2015 with the idea of trying to revive traditional art forms with the temple as its axis. Starting from the temples in and around Hyderabad, Gudi Sambaralu has spread its wings across the remote temples of Telangana and moved on to capture the audiences in and across Andhra Pradesh this year.

This has helped to rediscover and shed light on many forgotten performing art forms indigenous to local communities. The programs are conducted in courtyards, kalyanamandapas and stepwells of the temples. The event was conducted in the premises of the Sitaram Bagh Temple. The temple built by Puranmal Ganeriwala, a banker, in 1832 is a fine blend of different architectural styles including South Indian, Rajasthani, Mughal and European. The shrine is noted for its imposing gateways, in three directions – east, west and south. The main gateway is located on the Mallepally. The beautiful airy courtyards spread over 25 acres. With its intricately painted doors, quaint courtyards and an air of majesty, it effortlessly transports visitors into a bygone era.

The performance which lasted for an hour and half, moved the diverse audience (from children to grandparents) to empathise with the pain of pregnant Sita when she learns of Rama’s abandonment of her and her final journey when she returns to her mother. Both with her bhava and abhinaya, as well as her command over the art form, Kapila proved just why she is one of the most sought after artists of today. With no words, she explained the story only through her masterful expressions and body language.

Koodiyattam, recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity is different from other Indian dance forms as it relies heavily on the audience interpreting the story being told. Koodiyattam performances were originally restricted only to temples and took upto 40 days to finish a sequence of storytelling.

Kapila stresses on this when asked if she feels the legacy of the ancient art form on her shoulder each time she comes out to perform.

“More than its legacy, I always feel responsible as it’s not an easy art form to follow.” she candidly answers, “Because it compels people to delve inside to understand, they have difficulties following the performance and some don’t have the patience. So the real challenge is to transcend all these factors.”

Performing a piece from Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa , the acclaimed artist says, “I chose this particular piece as this is a Sita Rama temple and I felt that it was apt. It is an emotional piece and showcases the pain of Sita, at her most vulnerable.”

Kapila, who is performing in the city only for the second time says, “It’s a great feeling to perform in temples as they have a great energy and temple spaces need to be used to connect people. It’s also amazing to see women leading this effort.”

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 2:22:45 am |