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Diary from Khajuraho - Lakshmi Viswanathan

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Madras based dancer Lakshmi Viswanathan recently performed at the Khajuraho dance festival. She has brought home some joyful memories, which she shares with KutcheriBuzz.

khajurahoOn 26 February I danced at the Khajuraho festival. This is the most prestigious festival of its kind, and it is well organised by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad under the scholar and director Prof. Kamla Prasad , assisted by a diligent team headed by Sri Bhawalkar.

The venue is more spectacular than what one is accustomed to seeing on postcards and TV. An unspoilt village with several hotels, an airport and surprisingly ungreedy people....

The ASI has landscaped the entire temple complex, cordoned them off and allow admission by tickets. What is more, security is tight and no vandalism is possible. What a far cry from our own Mamallapuram... I mused.

I presented the Ramayana theme with the participation of two dancers currently in my group... Sudeesh and Shilpa. This theme attracted the viewers successfully as the mix was both foreign tourists as well as art lovers from North India. In fact the day after the show, a plane-load of rasikas made it a point to personally express their appreciation as we were heading to Delhi on the IAC flight.

The temples are inspiring, awesome and elegant. Built by the Chandela kings in the 10th century, they remind you of parallel monuments of that period..... Brihadeeswara in Tanjore, and the Prambanan in Java. Many people expect to see only erotic sculptures in Khajuraho. On the contrary, these are few in number and very subtly juxtaposed with images of Gods, Goddesses and Sundaris. Underlying this group are kings, warriors, horses elephants and so on. The point is this... the Mithuna sculptures are full of Rasa, and physical beauty. The details of all the images are so elaborate that one needs hours to examine and relish their beauty. Feminine beauty is celebrated here, as in many of our dances. I tried to mirror this beauty in my dance, with both Sringara and Vira rasas... the two most prominent in the Ramayana.

Time stood still, under a star-lit, moon-washed sky as I danced with the temple forming a beautiful back-drop. Vanathi the singer and Veeramani and Venkatasubramaniam on the violin and mridangam supported us with skill.

The photo session at dawn was an experience... for the temples look magical like the pyramids of Giza. An interview in the national language, wrapped up my engagements which were quite hectic.