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Once all-male, now women Kuchipudi dancers outnumber men: March 8 is International Women’s Day

Vedanta Lakshmi Narayana Sastri in the early 1900s introduced it among women. He also started the trend of solo choreography

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A Kuchipudi Dancer, wikimedia

Amaravati, March 7, 2017: 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. (IANS)

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Longest Head Massage Chain by 600 women in Mumbai bags Guinness World Record

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Longest Head massage chain
Women assembled to form the world's longest head massage chain. Twitter.

A group of 600 women in Mumbai got together to make the world’s longest head massage chain, creating a Guinness World Record.

As an initiative to promote the significance of hair oiling regularly, Bajaj Almond Drops Hair Oil had organised an event wherein these women assembled to form the longest head massage chain in Mumbai’s Growel’s Mall in Kandivali.

The event went socially viral and was capable to spread the desired message to the public. People have praised the efforts of the women participating in the longest head massage chain for bringing into light the long-lost tradition of head massage in India.

A huge crowd had lined up at the location to watch the mesmerising Guinness World Record of the massage chain. Hair oiling is essential to maintain the nourishment and shine of the hair follicles which also helps in preventing hairfall, dandruff and premature greying of hair.

 

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Crimes Against Women Perpetrate in Every two Minutes: NCRB Analysis

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Crimes against women in India
Father, left and mother, center of the Indian student victim who was fatally gang raped on this day three years back on a moving bus in the Indian capital join others at a candle lit vigil in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. VOA
  • Any kind of physical or mental harm towards women is deemed as  “crime against women”
  • Domestic violence is the most dominant crime against women
  • Andhra Pradesh state is the highest to report crimes against women in the period of ten years

Sep 20, 2017: A report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) suggests that crimes against women have increased violently in the last ten years with an estimated figure of  2.24 million crimes. The figure is also suggestive of the fact: 26 crimes against women are reported every hour, or one complaint every two minutes, reports IndiaSpend analysis.

The most dominant crime against women with 909,713 cases reported in last decade was ‘cruelty by husbands and relatives’ under section 498‐A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

‘Assault on women’ booked under section 354 of IPC is the second-most-reported crime against women with 470,556 crimes.

‘Kidnapping and abduction of women’ are the third-most-reported crime with 315,074 crimes, followed by ‘rape’ (243,051), ‘insult to modesty of women’ (104,151) and ‘dowry death’ (80,833).

The NCRB report also listed three heads, namely commit rape (4,234), abetment of suicide of women (3,734) and protection of women from domestic violence (426) under which cases of crime against women have been reported in 2014.

Andhra Pradesh has reported the most crimes against women (263,839) over the past 10 years.

Andhra Pradesh state is the highest (263,839) to report crimes against women in the period of ten years. Crimes reported for insult (35,733) ranks first followed by cruelty by husband relatives (117,458), assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (51,376) and dowry-related deaths (5,364).

West Bengal (239,760) is second most crime against women state followed by Uttar Pradesh (236,456), Rajasthan (188,928) and Madhya Pradesh (175,593).

Abduction increased up to three folds over the recent years,  with Uttar Pradesh being the worst affected state. Cases rose from 15,750 cases in 2005 to 57,311 cases in 2014.

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

 

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Pingali Venkayya: Remembering the man responsible for our National Flag

A tribute to Pingali Venkayya on his birth anniversary, a humble man belonging a small village in Andhra Pradesh.

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Pingali Venkayya and National Flag
Pingali Venkayya designed the Indian National Flag. Twitter
  • Venkayya first conceived the idea of a national flag on 31st  March 1921 at an Indian National Congress conference
  • A postage stamp was issued to commemorate him in 2009
  • In January 2015, a statute was dedicated to him by M. Venkaiah Naidu, was put forth in the fore lawns of the All India Radio (AIR) building in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

August 2, 2017: Pingali Venkayya was an Indian freedom fighter and the man who designed the flag on which Indian national flag is based. He was born on 2 August 1876 in Bhatlapenumarru village near Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh. He was a language enthusiast, knew multiple languages like Japanese and Urdu, had a doctorate in Geology, fond of history and also established an institute in Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh.  His village Bhatlapenumarru did not even have a statue of him till 1998.

Venkayya joined the British Indian Army at the tender age of 19 and also took part in the Anglo-Boer war in Africa. It was during this war that Venkayya met Mahatma Gandhi and formed a bond that lasted for more than 50 years.

Venkayya first conceived the idea of a national flag on 31st  March 1921 at an Indian National Congress conference. His version of the flag comprised of two colors- saffron and green to which Mahatma Gandhi added the white stripe. Lala Hansraj, Arya Samaj movement founder added the Dharm Chakra ( wheel of law) to it. Thus the present tricolor flag we see today was adopted on on July 22, 1947.

Pingali Venkayya: The unsung hero who designed India’s National Flag

Venkayya died with poverty on 4 July 1963 in Vijayawada. A postage stamp was issued to commemorate him in 2009. His name was proposed for Bharat Ratna in 2011 but In 2014 the award was instead given to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist C.N.R. Rao. Venkayya’s contributions were sidelined by the Indian government.  In January 2015, a statute was dedicated to him by M. Venkaiah Naidu, was put forth in the fore lawns of the All India Radio (AIR) building in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

On his 141st Birth Anniversary, Twitterati remembered him:

– by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08.

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