THE Kalakshetra Foundation from Chennai, India, charmed Penangites with a magnificent dance production that told a story of devotion to Lord Shiva.
Dancers from the foundation performed the ‘Kannapar Kuravanji’, a classic written in 1880 about a hunter-prince named Thinnapar, who shows selfless devotion to the deity and becomes a ‘saiva’ saint.
Stumbling upon a solitary shrine of Shiva in the woods, the lead character is struck with devotional love and begins to care for the shrine.
Being a hunter, he makes unconventional offerings of boar meat besides flowers and water to anoint the statue.
When the statue’s eye miraculously sheds tears of blood, Thinnapar tries to stem the flow, and on failing, selflessly removes his own eye and offers it before the statue.
Just as he is about to remove his second eye, Shiva manifests himself and naming the hunter ‘Kannapar’, stops him from doing so and blesses him.
Kuravanji Tamil dramas are considered the oldest forms of traditional Indian performances.
Such dramas represent the aspiration of the soul to merge with the divine.
The performance took place in Dewan Sri Pinang recently as part of the ‘Festival of India In Malaysia 2015’, organised by India’s Ministry of Culture and the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) in Kuala Lumpur.
The festival will see events taking place until June in the Klang Valley, Ipoh, Johor Baru, Malacca, Penang, Seremban, Sungai Petani and Kota Kinabalu.
These include Gujerati folk dances, a Tamil literary festival, Indian Islamic calligraphy showcase, Malayalam film festival and food festivals.
Details are in http://icckl.com.my.
ICC director Y.L. Rao said all the characters in the dance production, are either hunters or gypsies, who are uplifted through devotional sacrifices.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who watched the performance, said the genre of dance defines the beauty, heritage, history and culture of India.
“The theatrics of the play and the opulence of the costumes are an inspiration to Indian cultural performers in Malaysia,” he said.
Also present to grace the event were High Commissioner of India to Malaysia T.S. Trimurti, and Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy.