Tuesday, February 1, 2011

again the Devadasi

It was lovely watching Shyamala, Balasaraswathy's disciple dancing Mohamana Varnam in Tiruvarur temple. Hats off to Ranvir for organising such a great event. There was also Saskia Karsenboom doing Abhinaya for nadaswaram and of course dear dear friend David Shulman's book on Tiruvarur Devasriya mantapam paintings released. Devesh Soneji and Saskia and Rajeswari Ghosh spoke about their own relationship to the temple of Tiruvarur. It is destiny that brought Gujarathi speaking Devesh and the Dutch Saskia to Tiruvarur temple.

Saskia writes that modern India did not allow Devadasis to continue their ritual duties. She is confusing between the culture of the Devadasi and the human rights issue that Dr,Muthulakshmi Reddy fought for. If archakas in a temple could lead normal family life and be employed in the temple why could the Devadasis not marry and become the other woman in another woman's life? It was the culture of dedicating the girls that Dr.Muthulakshmi Reddy fought against and Rukmini Devi had nothing to do with that. She of course went along with the upper caste idea of the bhoga dasis spoiling a married woman's life by claiming the affection of her husband. Rukmini devi saw the dance and wanted to learn it. She later added her own repertoire to the dance.
The other side should understand that the orientalists would have left the devadasi culture alone if there was no issue of bonded labour and extra marital relationships and no rights for inheritance and name of the father.
Every dancer gives to dance whatever she can and Rukmini devi gave her own samskara as did several Devadasis before her.