Different dance forms, one symbol | Daily News


Different dance forms, one symbol

India and Sri Lanka are closely bound by historical, geographical, cultural, and religious ties. Even languages and formation of letters resemble each other to some extent. The Tamil language is widely used in Sri Lanka and India. Similarly, Hinduism and Buddhism are commonly practised in both these neighbouring countries together. Most of the Indian classical dance forms are based on Natya Sastra. But those dances were influenced by regional, religious, cultural and social traditions of each region. Kandyan dance appears to have grown out of Natya Sastra, as there are discernible similarities between the classical dance forms of India.

In Tamil, the word Naiyandi is still in use. In Tamil culture, there is a collective orchestra called Naiyandi Melam. This Naiyandi Melam is still much popular in Tamil areas of Sri Lanka and India. It includes two Nagaerswara players and one Thavil player (temple drum). And besides these, another drum called Pamba is also included in the orchestra. This drum Pambai is played by two drum players. Another drum named Kirikatti is also played by a single drummer in the Naiyandi Melam. The Naiyandi Melam musical records are freely available in the shops.

Naiyandi dance is one of the dance forms of the Kandyan dance. Naiyandi dance includes wide steps and narrow steps. The leg positions are sometimes closer to each other and sometimes the gaps between the two legs are wider. Yet the dance has its beauty and graceful movements.

In Naiyandi dancer wears white costumes; the chest is covered with rows of bead chains. These dressings resemble some of the Indian classical dancers. This particular neck ornament is made out of beautiful beads. Besides these, they wear long silver chains and ear-stud pendants. They also wear shoulder bands and white turbans. Turbans, ear stud pendants, jingling bells, and anklets are also worn by some of the male classical Indian dancers too.

This Naiyandi dance was practised in the royal courts like Kathakali in olden days. The Naiyandi dance was earlier practised in the royal courts. The steps are narrow and vast like Kathakali dance form of Kerala.

Even the Manipuri male dancers also carry drums like Kandyan Ves dancers and also they wear turbans. The Manipuri male dancers also wear white colour costumes and turbans.

Another Kandyan dance form is Udekki. This Udekki dance was named because of the instrument Udekki is used in this dance form. In Udekki dance is another category of dance, which is derived from the drum name Udekki. In Tamil, Udekki is known as Udduku. In Sanskrit, this is called Damru. In Hinduism, this particular variety of drum has a special place because the Thandava Murthi Lord Nataraja (Lord Shiva) in the Sabtha Thandavams as well as in the 108 Thandava Karanas holds the Udduku (Udekki) in his right hand. In other words, this drum Udekki is always found in the right hand of the Thandava Murthi Lord Nataraja.

According to Saiva Saint Thirumulanar's Thiru Manthiram, all the creations originate out of the sound of the Udukku. One line of the sacred verses of Thiru Manthiram indicates that out of the sound of Udduku all the creation takes place in the universe. ('Thotrum Thudi Thanil' means that all the creations originate from the sounds of the wind instrument Udukku). This Udduku also plays an important role in Hindu rituals. Still, the magicians and fortune-tellers also use this instrument. And this particular instrument is used in the Tamil folk dances as well as in the Tamil folk music.

The shape of the Udekki is like an hourglass and the length of the Udekki is almost seven and a half inches. It is a portable and small drum. It is believed that both sides of the Udekki, is covered by natural animal skin. According to a belief, that Lord Iswarahad given the skin and the sound of the drum was given by the Lord Vishnu. And it was also further said that the Udekki was made according to the instructions given by Lord Sakra. This drum symbolizes speech and magic.

Pantheru is another Kandyan dance form. The Pantheru dancer carries the instrument called Pantheruwa. This Pantheruwa instrument is used in turning and twirling and changing from one hand to another hand. The dancers dance with another drum instrument called Geta-bera. It is said that Pantheruwa is an instrument connected to the worship of Goddess Pathini cult. The instrument Pantheruwa is decorated with small cymbals and these cymbals are attached in regular intervals around the instrument. According to historical evidence, it was said that the Sinhalese Kings employed Pantheru dancers to celebrate their victory in the battlefield.

The costumes used in this dance form are almost similar to the Udekki dance. They wear a scarf around the waist. This almost resembles the male dancers of Tamil folk dance Thevarattam. The male Tamil folk dance Thevarattam dancers also use a scarf around their waist. But the Pantheru dancers wear white pleated garments and their chests and their necks are decorated with silver coloured beadwork ornament. The shoulders are covered with shoulder kavasams, (shoulder plates).To adorn their ears they wear ear pendants. Similarly for the hands armlets and bracelets are worn. Jingling bells and anklets are worn for the feet they wear. This particular dance form was earlier served for military band.

Earlier such type of dance was also practised in Tamil culture. According to ancient Tamil literature Mun theer kuravai and Peen theer kuravai, dances were performed to celebrate the victory of the victorious king. Hence the relationship of Naiyandi, Udekki, and Pantheru dance forms of Kandyan dance have one way or other way are connected to Indian cultural tradition. It is generally believed that all these dance forms were originated in the South East Asian region.

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