1. Ganesh Slokam & Alarippu
A humble offering
Ganesha, also known as Vighnahartha or Vinayaka is revered as the god of wisdom and intellect. He is invoked at the beginning of any new commencement to bring auspiciousness and ward off obstacles. His benevolence makes him loved by all, He is worshipped to bring protection and success. Avya will begin the performance by invoking the grace of the elephant headed Ganesha, the remover of obstacles; with a Telugu verse set in the ragam Arabhi by Smt. Roopa Mahadevan.
The slokam will be followed by an Alarippu in Tisra jati eka thalam.
An alarippu is a traditional invocatory piece in a Bharatanatyam repertoire and it literally means the blossoming of a flower. The dancer’s body is likened to that of a blooming lotus that rises above all impurities through rigorous practice, keeping itself turned towards the light. This symbolic lotus is then offered in humble reverence to the gods, gurus, elders and audience before commencing a performance.
Krishna’s childhood is full of playful and endearing stories. Some of the most famous stories of little mischievous Krishna include the tales of him stealing pots of his favourite freshly churned butter, stealing the clothes of the gopis as they bathed in the river and stealing hearts of everyone around him with His charm and innocence. Krishna is portrayed as a cowherd and a divine lover who played a mesmerizing flute. The enchanting music that emanated from Krishna's flute captivated all alike. The sweetness of his music symbolizes the allure of divine love and spiritual ecstasy.
Next Avya will present a shabdam in praise of Krishna, narrating stories from His childhood. Shabdam, a ragamalika set in Mishra Chapu thalam, composed by the Tanjore Quartette, a choreography of Mylapore Gowri Ammal.
Virtue & Victory
Rama is widely considered to be the embodiment of virtue and compassion in Hindu mythology and literature. His character is revered for its unwavering commitment to righteousness (dharma) and the profound compassion he carries towards all beings. The story of Rama is a tale of heroism that carries deep spiritual and philosophical teachings. It symbolises the eternal battle between good and evil forces. Rama's stories serve as a beacon of virtuous living and the path to victory over the trials and tribulations of life.
Avya will now present a varnam, the central piece of a bharatanatyam repertoire. This varnam will trace episodes from the life of Shri Rama; bringing Ahalya to life, making friends with the tribal king Guhan, and the monkey King Sugreeva and Ravana’s brother Vibheeshana who were banished from their kingdoms, giving liberation to Shabari, and winning over the ten headed demon Ravana who cunningly abducted his wife Sita. The lyrics for this varnam are written by Prof S. Raghuraman and music composed by Nattuvanar K. Balakrishnan in the ragam Keeravani set in Adi thalam. The choreography is by Sri Shyamjith Kiran.
4. Ardhanareeshwara Stotram
Ardhanareeshwara, is a composite and unique form of Lord Shiva. The term "Ardhanarishvara" is derived from two Sanskrit words: "Ardha," meaning half, and "Nari," meaning female. Together, they signify the "Lord who is half female". In this iconic representation, the right half of the deity is Lord Shiva, depicted with a masculine appearance, and the left half is Goddess Parvati, depicted with a feminine appearance. The concept of Ardhanarishvara symbolizes the underlying unity and inseparability of the masculine and feminine principles in the universe, highlighting the balance and complementary nature of these two aspects. While Shiva’s body is smeared with ashes from the burial ground, Parvati’s body is smeared with the scent of fragrant musk. While she is adorned with beautiful ornaments, he is adorned with serpents and skulls. While she is clad in rich silks and garments, he is most handsome with his bare body. While creation begins with Parvati’s gentle smile, the universe is dissolved when he dances the vigorous tandava.
This piece written by the great sage Adi Shankaracharya had been choreographed by Sri Shyamjith Kiran as a tribute to Avya’s grandmother whose presence we dearly miss. It is a ragamalika set to Adi thalam in Khanda nadai by Sri P. Sushanth.
5. Keertanam- Hariye Gati
Avya will next present a Telugu keerthanam “Hariye Gathi”, composed by the doyen of Carnatic music, Dr. Balamurali Krishna. This beautiful ragamalika set in Adi thalam has been choreographed for Avya by Sri. Shyamjith Kiran.
"Hari" is derived from the Sanskrit root "Har," which means "to take away" or "to remove." Therefore, Vishnu as "Hari" is often interpreted as the one who removes or takes away the suffering and ignorance of all devotees who seek refuge in him. He is believed to be the preserver and sustainer of the universe, and devotees turn to him for protection and salvation. The act of seeking refuge in Hari involves having complete faith in the divine will and relying with surrender on God's grace and compassion. Devotees believe that Hari, being the ultimate refuge, provides solace and liberation from the cycle of birth and death (samsara). Here the poet requests Hari to reincarnate on earth as Kalki to remove all difficulties just as he did by taking the form of the Dashavataras (Vishnu’s ten incarnations) to save the world.
Ashtapadis from the Sanskrit text "Gita Govinda", were composed by the 12th-century poet Jayadeva. The "Gita Govinda" is a beautiful and lyrical composition, depicting the divine love between Krishna and Radha. In this ashtapadi we see Krishna being remorseful for not meeting Radha as promised. He pleads with her to come back to Him and promises he will never let her go through any more pain. He wonders what she must be going through suffering all alone, the more he thinks of her the more it makes him disappointed and guilty. He is unable to bear separation any further and says “Oh my dearest Radha, you are the only reason I live. Everything around me is meaningless in your absence.”
Ashtapadi in the ragam Hamir Kalyani is set to Mishra Chapu thalam, choreographed by Prof. A Janardhanan.
Joy and freedom
Thillana, the concluding piece of a traditional bharatanatyam repertoire, is a vibrant and rhythmic dance characterized by its energetic and joyful nature. It has brisk and vibrant movements, intricate footwork, and rhythmic patterns culminating typically in a short verse of praise on a deity. This thillana is dedicated to Lord Shiva who presides as Marundeeshwara in Thiruvanmiyur. He is the beloved of Goddess Tripurasundari. The poet humbly requests Shiva to bestow his eternal grace and protection upon Kalakshetra.
Thillana in the ragam Bilahari set to Adi thalam. A music compostion of MD Ramanathan choreographed by Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale.
The thillana will be followed by a prayer to goddess Lakshmi for auspiciousness, peace and prosperity composed by the Telugu poet Annamacharya.