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Vijayawada: Plea to revive 'Kala Archana' custom in temples

Classical dance master Hemanth Kumar
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Classical dance master Hemanth Kumar

Highlights

In the past, dance and vocal music used to performed three-and-a-half minutes in front of the deity and one hour in the ‘chaturasra mandapam’ for the art lovers which is called Kala Archana’.

Vijayawada: Temples are a treasure for culture and heritage. Our temples are symbols of our culture and tradition so these are attracting many foreign tourists not only for sightseeing but also to study the values and customs of our culture. Many foreigners are coming to India for research on our temple sculpture, customs and traditions.

As far as the inside of the temple is concerned the deity in the temple will be worshiped according to Vedic 'Agama Sastra' and as per 'Agama Sastra', Shodasa pujas include music and dance. These two Sevas are to be performed everyday in the temples in the presence of God. The priest will only chant in the mantra like 'geetam sravya yami (keerthana to render)', 'vadhya ghoshayami (instruments to play)' and 'nrityam darsyayami' (dance to perform)'. But unfortunately geetam and nrityam are only left over without live performance and it remain only just to chant.

In ages back, the dance and vocal music used to be performed three-and-a-half minutes at the deity and one hour in the 'chaturasra mandapam' for the art lovers. This is called 'kala archana' and this seva will be performed to God in his presence but not some corner of the temple. To perform this seva, in olden days, every temple used to have a female dance artiste to present recitals every day and they are called 'devadasi'. These devadasi artistes dedicated themselves to God to worship the deity in the temple for the rest of their life. The female dance artiste should have excellent skills and talent in dance forms like Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Odissi.

Due to social reforms, this 'devadasi' culture was abolished in 1988. From that time, this 'kalaarchana' custom in temples almost vanished. Only in some festivals the devasthanam officials are inviting some artistes to perform in presence of audience on a temporary stage erected for that purpose. But this will not serve the basic Vedic tradition. 'Natyacharya' Hemanth Kumar stressed on the need for revival of 'Kala Archana' custom while chatting with 'The Hans India'.

"I strongly believe the Vedic word where the culture is protected there the public will lead a happy life. Hence, it is the duty of the Government to protect the culture and the artistes. Music and dance are the divine art forums and that is the reason why these two are included in the daily 'sevas' in the temples. From the ancient time to the recent past this was in vogue at all major temples every day by temple dancers which is another word called 'Devadasi'. This devasasi custom was withdrawn and the seva was also stopped at all temples. I request the state government to modify this and continue the 'nritya seva' in temples every day by the local classical dance artistes so as to encourage the dance and music in our state," said Hemanth Kumar.

Hemanth said that there are enough artistes who are capable of giving performances and the endowment department may take the services of the local artistes to duly screen them for the nritya seva in temples. He continued that it would be difficult to perform before God because of various reasons but the three and half minutes can be arranged before 'arjita seva' deities and the rest one hour may be organised in a 'mandapam' specially fixed for this cultural activities purpose.

"If the government could do this one way it would be a great help financially to the artistes and their families and on other side the pilgrims and foreign tourists will also be attracted towards our traditional dances," said Hemanth.

Hemanth said that this was going on in Tirumala only and at other temples this 'Nritya kalaradhana' is being done only in festival season. On behalf of the artiste community Hemanth requesting the concerned minister and the authorities to examine this proposal of conducting the daily 'Kalaarchana seva' at all major temples like Sri Kalahasti, Kaanipakam, Ranganathaswamy temple, Mangalagiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple, Kanaka Durga temple, Amaravathi temple, Srisialam temple, Palakollu, Bhimavaram, Samalkot, Draksharaaman, Annavaram, Simhachalam, Arasavalli, Visakhapatnam and make a path to continue this tradition and also to raise our rich traditional flag high.

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