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Once all-male, now women Kuchipudi dancers outnumber men



Once all-male

Amaravati, March 7 : It was only in the early 1900s that women were allowed to perform Kuchipudi, the medieval classical dance form that originated in the eponymous village in Andhra Pradesh. Now, women outnumber men both in teaching and learning, and have taken up the task of infusing a new lease of life into the art — including through digital means.

About an hour-and-a-half’s drive from this new Andhra Pradesh capital, through lush paddy fields and mounds of gleaming red chillies spread out under the hard sun, Kuchipudi village in Krishna district at first seems nondescript.

There is no buzz about the 6,117 performers creating a new Guinness World Record for the largest Kuchipudi dance. Neither is there the larger-than-life aura that one would associate with a classical entity that has touched the shores of the US, the UK, Africa and many others.

But step inside the Sri Siddhendra Yogi Kuchipudi Kala Peetham, and you will have stepped back in time, what with photographs of the maestros who helped shape the dance-drama format of Kuchipudi and faint sounds of talam (beats) accompanying young disciples.

“Initially, it was only men who performed. Vedanta Lakshmi Narayana Sastri in the early 1900s introduced it among women. He also started the trend of solo choreography. Up until then it was an ensemble performance. Besides, it was strictly restricted to the Brahmin community and Sastri opened it up to other communities. Now it is mostly women who are into it,” Anupama, a final year Master of Performing Arts student at the institute, told IANS.

The Kala Peetham is an institute affiliated to the Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University and is named after the dance form’s founding father, Siddhendra Yogi.

“This year, we plan to float an exclusive platform on social media to popularise Kuchipudi. The effort will be to showcase the village and the institute as the point of origin of the dance, which many do not know is named after a village,” said Anupama.

The new building of the century-old institute stands on a 600-acre plot gifted by the then Nawab of Golconda, Abdul Hassan Tahnisha, to the villagers in the 17th century, after he was moved by a performance. His only condition was that the tradition should be carried on.

And survived it has, despite vicissitudes of migration, loss of patronage and shrinking family size.

There are around 13 families in the village and all of them are dedicated to Kuchipudi.

“Earlier, there used to be more families. Siddhendra Yogi brought all families engaged in the dance drama to the village and the village’s name, which means small (‘kuchi’) village in Telugu, gradually got aligned to the dance,” Anupama explained after a nourishing traditional meal of rice, curd and vegetables that is served to the 100-odd students of the institute who come from across the state and the country.

Elaborating on its genesis at a time when Vaishnavism and the Bhakti movement were sweeping the region, Anupama said the dance form has an intimate connection with Lord Krishna.

Siddhendra Yogi’s play “Bhama Kalapam” — the story of Satyabhama, the charming but jealous wife of Krishna — is a crown jewel of the dance.

“Men used to dress up as women and enact the role of Satyabhama. The steps and mudras as well as the style of dressing and make-up are rooted in Natya Shastra, the oldest surviving text on stagecraft in the world. One’s calibre is mapped from the way one portrays Satyabhama,” noted Anupama.

This is where Kuchipudi differs from the other comparatively better-off classical sister forms like Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kathak.

It is all about the act, or “abhinaya”.

“Kuchipudi has four aspects: vachika (speaking or narration), aahaarya (costumes or vastra), aangika (postures) and abhinay or expressions. The dancer or danseuse narrates the dialogues or shlokas and, therefore, the focus is more on the expressions and acting. Mridangam, harmonium and violin are the key accompaniments, and a pair of vocalists keeps the narration rolling. A ‘sutradhar’ is also involved in the storytelling,” said Anupama and her classmates.

There is an a new earnestness about revitalising Kuchipudi, with the state government sanctioning Rs 100 crore for the promotion of both the dance form and the village.

“There was a slack period where employment was hard to find. Now the Chandrababu Naidu government has planned to include Kuchipudi in the school curriculum and recruit teachers. The village also is being developed as a prominent tourism destination,” said an enthusiastic Anupama, hoping the associated woodcraft and weaving industry will also be revived.

However, Anupama and her batchmates are resolute on one thing: the dance has to stay pure.

(Sahana Ghosh was in Amravati at the invitation of the Amaravati Global Music and Dance Festival’s organisers. She can be contacted at [email protected])


Gift green plants, orange gujiya on Holi




New Delhi, Feb 24: Going for a Holi party? Add colours to your gifting options like a green plant, a gold coin or orange sweets like gujiya, suggest experts.

Sunil Gupta, Founder at, and Vishwavijay Singh, Co-Founder at, have listed a few colourful options:

* Green: As the colour green signifies peace and harmony, how about gifting a potted plant or terrarium as a gift? Plants make a perfect gift for various occasions as gifting your loved ones with plants spreads positive energy and improves the quality of air in a home.


* Yellow: In India, gifting gold jewellery and idols is considered auspicious for celebratory occasions. The colour yellow signifies piousness and gifting something as precious as gold in an earring or a gold coin has an intrinsic value.

Image result for gifting gold EARRING

Image result for gifting gold coin

* Orange: Every festival or occasion is incomplete without sweets. Gifting sweets has always been the benchmark of Indian tradition, especially during festivals. Therefore, this Holi, gift your loved ones with sweets and savouries like malpuas, gujiyas, motichoor ladoos and more.


* Blue: As the colour blue signifies calm, gift your friend or a family member a travel gift card. Gift a travel experience which can last for a day, a week or more.

* Red: The colour red reflects love and fertility. Look for gifts such as red-coloured clothes or attractive home decor pieces like candle holders, canvas painting, and flowers that can change the overall look and feel of a home.


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Use potato slices to treat puffy eyes



Potato on eyes

New Delhi, Feb 21: Waking up with puffy eyes is rather common and it is easy to treat them. Drink sufficient water and use refrigerated slices of potatoes to get rid of the puffiness, suggest experts.

Bubbles Singh, Founder at Just B Au Naturel and Ragini Mehra, Founder at Beauty Source, have listed simple ways to treat your problem:

* The easiest way to get rid of puffy eyes is to drink water. When the body is well hydrated, there is less chance of water retention that can cause your under-eye area and other parts of your body to swell.

Water also helps flush toxins out of the body.

* Iced compresses like chilled green or black tea bags can help soothe puffy and irritated eyes. They contain anti-irritant properties that help reduce swelling around your eyes. You could even try splashing your face and eyes with ice cold water.

* Slices of refrigerated potato or cucumber work as a fantastic natural remedy to get rid of under eye puffiness.

The enzymes and the astringent properties in these vegetables help reduce inflammation and help tighten the skin. This remedy will also help get rid of wrinkles and dark circles around your eyes.

* A mask made of egg whites helps in tightening the area around the eyes, as egg whites are a nourishing natural skin care treatment, reducing puffiness of the eyes.

* Puffiness of the eyes can be caused by seasonal or inherited allergies. Allergies prompts us to rub our eyes more, leading to further puffiness. Visit a doctor and get yourself checked in case of any such.

* Use natural products that help reduce dryness, reduce puffiness and hydrate your skin like an eye serum or aloe vera based eye creams which can also cool down the eye area.

These products do not harm the eyes, repair and replenish the skin around the eyes, ensuring that you see a difference in the brightness and texture under your eyes when you get up in the morning.


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Choco lava cake hot favourite among lovebirds



Choco lava cake

New Delhi, Feb 19: Lovebirds indulged in some sugary goodness, including choco lava cake, on Valentine’s Day, reveals a survey.

According to findings derived from Swiggy’s order analysis for Valentine’s Day on February 14 and eight Wednesdays before that, love-struck Indians stuck to their favourites, the most shareable pizza and fries, as their order increased sharply by 55 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.

Choco lava cake saw an increase of 73 per cent. There were four times more donuts orders and red velvet items were also ordered 3.5 times more, read a statement.

The 2018 Valentine’s Day food trends are on the basis of Swiggy’s order analysis of the cities of Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi/NCR, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Jaipur.

“Despite the usual excitement around making Valentine’s Day special, an increasing number of urbanites made the choice to spend it at home with their loved ones.

“Deterred by urban challenges like long working hours, traffic, planning and reservation and parking, many couples opted to have their Valentine’s dates over great food, in the privacy of their homes,” said Srivats TS, Vice President, Marketing at Swiggy.


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