Women saint-poets in focus

Anita Ratnam. Photo: D. Krishnan  

Kartik Fine Arts and Arangham Trust present ‘Mad and Divine: Women Mystic saint poets of India and beyond’, a Natya Darshan seminar from December 23 to 25, at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore.

The three-day event will feature academics, poets, performers, writers, historians and cultural commentators, who will discuss and share the many nuances of the magnificent poetry of India’s female poet saints. The raw passions of Andal, Mirabai, Akka Mahadevi, Lal Ded, Avvaiyar, Siddheswari and several others will come alive through dance, verse, music and talks.

The morning sessions will feature lec-dems and discussions. Some of the participants include Shanta Serbjeet Singh, Dr. Archana Venkatesan, Madhureeta Anand, Devdutt Pattanaik, Chitra Visweswaran, Vidhya Subramanian , Dr. Ketu H. Katrak, Nirupama Vaidhyanathan, Dr. Madhavi Narsalay, Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Akila Ramnarayan, Pallabi Chakravorty and Scott Kugle.

The evening sessions will focus on performances illuminating the lives and poetry of the mystics discussed during the conference proceedings. There will be three performances each evening beginning at 5 p.m. Dancers who will participate include Anita and Pritha Ratnam, Narthaki Nataraj, Maddhu Nattraj and Ramya Reddy, Malavika Sarukkai, Sangeeta Isvaran, Aditi Mangaldas, Mythili Prakash, Zakir Hussain, Meenakshi Chitharanjan and Rama Vaidyanathan.

For details, contact Akhila Krishnamurthy at or call 98410 85692.

Convener: Dr. Anita R Ratnam

Associate convener: Dr. Ketu H Katrak

Dates: December 23 to 25, 2011

Venue: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai, India


Dec 23

10 - 10.10am: Anita Ratnam’s welcome address and introduction to the day's program, and inauguration by L. Sabaretnam, Chairman, Kartik Fine Arts

Presentation of title NATYA CHUDAR on Shruthipriya by Kartik Fine Arts

10.15 – 10.40 a.m.: Shanta Serbjeet Singh (Delhi), Vice Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi, keynote address on ‘Mad and Divine’

10.45 – 11.05 a.m.: Archana Venkatesan, University of California (Davis), speaks on ‘Legends of the Goddess: Andal stories in the Srivaishnava traditions’

11.05 – 11.20 a.m.: tea break

11.20 – 11.50 a.m.: Vidhya Subramanian (USA), performance of ‘Ojas – with that spiritual energy I yearn’

12– 12.30 p.m.: Devdutt Pattanaik (Mumbai), mythologist and corporate trainer, speaks on ‘Myth of the Mad Mystical Women’

12.40 to 1 p.m.: Interactive session

Dec 24

10 a.m.: Introduction by Anita Ratnam

10.15 – 10.45 a.m.: Rajashree Shirke (Mumbai), performance ‘Sant Kanhopatra’ on Marathi women saints

10.50 – 11.10 a.m.: Madhavi Narsalay, University of Mumbai, speaks on ‘Institutionalising identity through divinity: Female saint poetesses of Maharashtra’

11.10 – 11.30 a.m.: tea break

11.30 – 12 p.m.: Priya Sarukkai Chabria (Pune) speaks on ‘Aandaal - the Autobiography of a Goddess’

12 – 12.30 p.m.: Akhila Ramnarayan (Chennai) speaks on ‘Temporal transgressions: Going global with bhakti’

Dec 25

10 a.m.: Introduction by Anita Ratnam

10.15 – 10.45 a.m.: Chitra Visweswaran (Chennai), performance on ‘Meerabai’

10.45 – 11.15 a.m.: Honoring of Vyjayantimala Bali with Lifetime Achievement Award, Acceptance speech, Anita Ratnam in conversation with Vyjayantimala Bali

11.15 – 11.30 a.m.: tea break

11.30 – 12 p.m.: Madhureeta Anand (Delhi), ‘Hearts in ecstasy: A presentation of images and words about Sadhvis’

12– 1pm: Plenary session coordinated by Ketu H. Katrak (USA), ‘Creative representations of ‘Madness’ accessing the Divine’

12 - 12.20 p.m.: Nirupama Vaidhyanathan (USA) speaks on ‘Meerabai and St. Teresa of Avila: Lives in parallel worlds’

12.20 – 12.45 p.m.: Pallabi Chakravorty & Scott Kugle (USA), ‘Dancing for a divine beloved: Mah Laqa Bai and Mira Bai between Hinduism and Islam’

12.45 – 1pm: Closing remarks by Dr. Ketu H Katrak and Interactive session

1 – 1.15 p.m.: Anita Ratnam sums up and introduces next year's conference

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