Beyond Gender - Navarasa Nayagis
Beyond Gender - Navarasa Nayagis6 mins 430 6 mins 430
The Kerala rains had started effecting the Coimbatore weather and Sunday evening could not have been more pleasant than today. As the mild evening breeze ushered as I started my car towards Hindusthan College, I felt a bit lazy to drive and wanted to just sit at home and paint. The moment I started the car I told my daughter that let us plan to attend the programme for maybe an hour and head back home as I felt a bit tired too which was an after effect of the daily routines for the past few weeks. 2nd June 2019 Sunday evening was not meant to be this way though. The drive towards Hindustan College is a short one from our Ondipudur, a small hamlet in the outskirts of Coimbatore leading towards NH47.
As I drove towards the venue we were held for some time at the Singanallur Signal and my mind though drifted towards the Arulmigu Koothandavar Temple at Singanallur and its significance. As they say, every thought is a seed made up of your surroundings, the thought about the Aravan Temple was a sought one from the various incidents which my daughter was feeding my mind from the back seat. The thought led me to many questions even to the extent that Does GOD Exist and why would he? The Legend of Aravan, the son of Arjuna born to a Naga Princess sacrificing himself at the request of the LORD and being bestowed a boon to be married for a day with the Lord in his Mohini form before being sacrificed the next day brings my mind to terms that it is indeed him and who else.
The sacrifice was professed by the most accurate foreteller in legendary tales i.e. one of the Pandavas – Sahadeva. He was asked by Krishna and Duryodhan in the same breath the path to victory. Sahadeva predicted that the path to success is same to both the troops but the one who sacrifices a man filled with good qualities of valor, strength, bravery and beauty to GODDESS KALI will gain blessings from the victory GODDESS. Though the thought of losing his dearest friend Arjun who befitted it worried Lord Krishna, it was Aravan who was the most suitable as Krishna felt. The same is enacted every year by the transgender communities every year signifying that to let GOOD win over BAD sacrifice is inevitable.
We reached the venue at 6.30 PM and were ushered into seats which I found were limited in numbers as compared to some other events I visited. The who’s who of Coimbatore were present laying rest to my question on limited seats. In front of us, there were some transgender seated and I must say that all of them looked at their very best. My daughter and her friend Ankita went to seat themselves ahead to get a closer view and to be with their friends. The stage was decked up in ushering colors and the mood went from somber to anxiety as to what was in store next. Taslima Nasreen and her team of Master of ceremonies introduced Shri Mohan Vaidya, Smt Mridula Rai and all dignitaries who were instrumental for this evening. The stage was set …9 Transgender …..sorry 9 Nayagis were about to perform Classical Padams in Bharat Natyam in front of this exquisite gathering along with the students of Shree Natyan Niketan. The music for the same was composed by Shri Mohan Vaidya a renowned artist.
The Natyashastra depicts the Navarasas as a basic human emotion but what causes this emotion is also a rasa, Isn’t it?
The Invocation Dance – Shakthi Shakthi
This Dance set the mood for the evening. The Asthalaxmi’s – The 8 girls from Shree Natya Niketan performed this invocation dance with such grace, elegance, power, vigor, and energy that the Invocation process was indeed fruitful. The dance started with a slow tempo slowly raising it a level wherein the air was filled with vibrancy, fertility, and exuberance. One could feel the presence of the GODDESS herself in the form of these Ashtalaxmi’s. Each unique in character depiction and when they did the Navarasa’s in reciprocatory tandem’s it was though I could see the Eight Lights shimmering the rasas in complete harmony…Bliss the GOODNESS had arrived.
The next nine dances were performed by Transgender Anusha, Yamini, Aseena, Sara, Liyana, Sreedevi, Vinita, Sujithra and Raziya alongwith nine students of Shree Natya Niketan on the Nine Rasas of life. Shringara, Veeram, Adbhuta, Karunai, Haasya, Bhayankam, Bhibhasta, Rowdram, Shantam and a separate dance on Ardhanareeshwara by another Transgender Shobhana.
All of them performed exquisitely to the subtle yet unique dances choreographed by Smt. Mridula Rai. Each of the Nayagi’s represented the Rasa’s uniquely and they were ably supported with graceful yet powerful natyams by the Guru’s school disciples. The dance was choreographed in such a way that each of the Nayagis was depicted by the Queens of the Night and the students from Natya Niketan explained the Navarasa’s one by one in the above sequence. Whether it was Haasya performed by Liyana depicting how important laughter is to this world or Bhayankam performed by Sreedevi in the form of the snake god or Rowdram performed by Sujitra depicting Goddess Kali in her most ominous form, it kept the audience spellbound.
One could feel Love, Peace, Anger, Distaste, and Compassion all under one roof artistically woven pearls that represented the Nayagis. The Ardhanareshwara which is a form in which Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are seen as one was brilliantly performed by Shobhana and the culminating dance on the devotional number Aiyagiri Nandhini was the finale extravaganza forced the crowd to applaud in a standing ovation to the entire gamut of dancers. It would be incomplete if I would not commend the enchanting, mystic and pure music composed for each and every soulful performance by Shri Mohan Vaidya.
At the Introduction of the program Taslima Nasreen spoke on the various facets of life they undergo – some forced to extreme atrocities by known and unknown. You are forced to think and think deep - Is it humanly possible to bear this and after undergoing such extreme durrasas how can there be a rasa in life for anybody. During my childhood and youthful days in Mumbai, the sight of a Transgender brought many Navarasa’s in my mind. I must admit it was more of fear and sometimes a feeling of incompleteness on seeing them. Seeking a blessing from them gave them a Demi God status for some years in my mind but fear was omnipresent. The evening could not have been a better boon to clear the clutter I and many like me had in their minds.
The OTHER as they are referred to. What is THE OTHER? There is an OTHER when a man speaks to his daughter – the feminine quality of compassion. There is an OTHER when a man is with his MOTHER.. feeling of being pampered. There is an OTHER when a man wants to look his best – The feminine quality of beauty. I am sure they often feel where do I fit? Why should you…GOD”s masterpiece are a rarity. Be proud you are Beyond Genders… The Navarasa Nayagi’s reminds you as somebody said about the famous poet RUMI who I believe said. THERE IS NO OTHER…THERE IS NO OTHER..IT’S IN YOU.