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Thanks to our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the 69th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2014 extolled the delegates to adopt Yoga. And it was on December 11, 2014, that the 193-member UNGA approved June 21 as ‘International Day of Yoga’. On this occasion, we take a look at the benefits of Yoga with Hyderabad-based Yoga guru Uttara Sharma, who runs Uttara’s Power Yoga & Pilates studio.

In reality, looking slim and beautiful is everyone’s dream. For this one tries out all kinds of things like dieting, walking, running, working out at the gym, sometimes one sees instant results but it is difficult to retain the physique for long. Have you tried the country’s ancient scientifically proven Yoga? The answer may be a big NO. For this, the reasons would be many ranging from – ‘I can’t even touch my toes, I can’t do Yoga!’, ‘Yoga is such a ladies thing!’, ‘Yoga is slow and boring!’, ‘Yoga is not intense and doesn’t help in losing weight’ among many others.

Uttara Sharma, qualified power yoga teacher who has been practicing yoga for over 16 years, and teaches students at her Secunderabad Studio, says: “This is not a competition where you are under pressure to perform! As you keep doing yoga, your body will become suppler and stiffness will be a thing of the past! Be compassionate with your body and give it some time.”

She says that the best known and most respected yoga teachers around the world have been men. “All forms of yoga that we practice here work towards complete health solutions. This includes weight loss / gain and body toning,” she says.

According to Uttara, there are many benefits of Yoga. “Yoga is Injury Free Workouts, Increases Muscle Flexibility, Increases Concentration, Reduces Anxiety, Helps in Weight Management, Lowers Blood Pressure and Lowers Stress Levels,” the Yoga teacher says.

Walking into Uttara’s Power Yoga and Pilates studio at Secunderabad, I wondered what was Power Yoga. Explaining this, Uttara says that Power Yoga is a commonly used generic term to describe any vigorous yoga practice. “The term first became popular in the mid-1990s, when several yoga teachers were looking for a way to make ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ more accessible to western students. Power yoga is one of the best ways of staying fit and healthy. This technique was modified to allow people in performing yoga in a more energetic, lively and appealing way. These features make it extremely popular among the modern generation,” she says.

Uttara says that the first step of power yoga training revolves around two significant approaches, synchronising your mind and body and flushing out the toxins from your body. “The next step of power yoga training will concentrate on increasing your muscle flexibility and stamina and will also work by cleansing your nervous channels. The benefits offered by power yoga are immense. As you complete a series of postures of power yoga, you will be able to stretch and strengthen your body and have a relaxed and calm mind,” she says.

Apart from Power Yoga, the other forms of yoga taught here include Vinyasa Yoga, Fusion Yoga and Hot Yoga. Uttara shares that Vinyasa Yoga includes sun salutations, standing poses, balancing postures, seated and reclining poses, backbends, core isolation and strengthening. “Special emphasis is placed on moving into and out of postures safely, correct alignment, using the breath, and learning to quiet the chatter of the mind to find peace and inner stillness,” Uttara says.

On the other hand, Fusion Yoga is a strenuous technique that involves the stretching and strengthening of all the body’s major muscle groups, creating a slender, streamlined shape rather than bulk. “It enhances posture with its main focus being to strengthen the core postural muscles where the abdominal, lower back, pelvic floor and buttock muscles meet,” yoga guru says.

Hot yoga is nothing but doing yoga in a heated room. “The room is usually maintained at a temperature of 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity of 40%. Most often, hot yoga tends to be a flowing, Vinyasa style of practice in which the teacher instructs a series of linked poses,” she states. The biggest advantage of hot yoga apart from weight loss is that the heat makes the body more flexible making it an injury free experience. “Hot Yoga is for the strong. It is a very powerful workout technique which works on your body to give you the best results, during and after the session,” Uttara says.

Combined with Power Yoga, Pilates is also taught here. Deciphering it, the Yoga teacher says that Pilates is a method of exercise, which aims to encourage the use of the mind to develop core postural muscle strength, stability and flexibility resulting in more efficient and graceful movement. “This merging of the mind and body was originally developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s.Pilates is a body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility and long, lean muscles, strength and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back,” she says.

Uttara dispels many nutritional myths too. She says that many believe that a high protein diet is the best diet for weight loss. She says it is not true, in fact the body is made up of a combination of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, salts, sugars and fats.  Many also believe that Rice is Bad, but she states that Rice is a best source of vitamin B1. “As rice is rich in carbohydrates, it acts as fuel for the body and aids in normal functioning of the brain. Eating rice is extremely beneficial for health, just for the fact that it does not contain harmful fats, cholesterol or sodium. It forms an integral part of balanced diet. Rice is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like niacin, vitamin D, calcium, fibre, iron, thiamine and riboflavin.”

The guru says one must have a balanced diet to maintain health and a sensible body weight. “ A balanced diet should contain protein, fats, carbohydrates and fibre in the form of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit, all in the right amounts, providing you with a good supply of essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and of course fresh drinking water,” she says with a smile.

‘Yoga’ Visa

Ahead of the International Day of Yoga on June 21, the Union Government is planning a ‘yoga’ visa of two nights and one day. A senior government official said that the Modi Government was planning to introduce a new category of visa to promote yoga, to help make India the world destination for yoga enthusiasts. Currently, there are 18 types of visas which include diplomatic, mountaineering, employment, tourist, medical, student, research and conference, among others. The official said that since U.N. had also designated a day for yoga, to attract people to India, the government was planning to create a special type of visa.

First to Introduce Hot Yoga and Pilates in city

Competent in various forms of Yoga and Pilates, Uttara is an experienced yoga professional specialising in weight and stress management. She lays emphasis on improving overall health - physical and mental. She has worked with some of the most respected yoga instructors and experts worldwide. Apart from attending several workshops in Hong Kong and New Jersey, Uttara has conducted yoga training at Yoga retreat in Los Angeles. She draws inspiration from internationally acclaimed Yoga practitioners Ana Forrest and Bryan Kest. She is the first to introduce the concept of Hot Yoga and Pilates in the city.

What drew you to Yoga? It is not an easy method to lose weight?

At the age of 23, I tried many things like aerobics but could not see much improvement. I tried yoga under my guru M Kundu. He is here every day in my studio and he also has a session with the students here. I have also learnt under many gurus. Yoga with Pilates helps in mental stability, physical strength and stamina. Yoga is a proven science. Anyone can do it, from young to old.

How many months did it take you to lose weight? Did it contain any diet restrictions?

I practiced Power Yoga with a balanced diet and had Satvic food. I could see the difference soon and kept practicing it.

When and with how many students did you begin yoga classes?

I launched my studio in 2006 with one student and after 10 years, there are over 200+ students in nine batches. There are no classes in the weekends. Earlier, I had other Yoga studios too, but as this is a one-man show and I want everything under my supervision, I function only from Secunderabad studio now.

When did you add other elements to yoga to make it interesting?

From 2007, onwards I have weaved many things to power yoga. In India, I underwent teachers training from VYAS (Bangalore), and in the US, I did Advance Power Yoga teacher training, Advance Vinyasa teacher training and Pilates teacher training. At the studio, emphasis is on strength, and here we use free weights and dumbbells also.

Name some A listers, who have joined your Yoga classes?

Cream of the society attends my classes. They are from all professions – dancers, musicians, doctors, sportsmen and many others. A session here helps many to fight lifestyle diseases, build stamina and strength. They remain active and energized the entire day.

Do you think yoga should be taught in schools with Physical Education?

Parents are to be blamed for their child’s ill health. At an age, when they should go out and play, they are being compelled to study to score high percentages. But when their children are in the age group of 15-25, they turn for help. Some of them become fat, girls have menstruation problems etc. Physical fitness is an important part of life. Yoga should be taught in schools, it is unfortunate that many schools don’t have proper playgrounds also.

On Yoga Day?

Yoga day is celebrated all over the world now. It is a great initiative by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is becoming very popular and Yoga is a proven science and not a religion.

Before signing off, she says that women are not bothered about their health. “In fact, they must take care of themselves to take care of their family. Staying fit and agile is very important for them too.”

Yoga Course

Yoga guru Uttara Sharma conducts two-month Internationally Certified Power Yoga Teacher’s Training course. The yoga guru says that the style they teach is a creative, dynamic and intelligent flow which can be easily adapted to different levels. “The philosophy is based on the ‘8 Limb Path’ of Patanjali and the asana practice. Over 84 poses are covered in-depth during the training with special attention to anatomical sequencing and skillful assists. At the end of the training, one is fully qualified to teach Power Yoga and its variations such as Power Flow or Core Flow, as well as various levels of Hatha Yoga,” says Uttara.

Yoga Practice Guidelines

•  Clean Surroundings

•  Should be done on an empty stomach

•  Use a Yoga mat

•  Wear comfortable clothes

•  Always breathe through nostrils

•  Do not push your body vigorously

•  End Yoga session with meditation

•  Take food or bath only after a break of 30 minutes

 

On the occasion of Buddha Jayanthi, visit the Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara at Mahindra Hills, Secunderabad, to find solutions for day-to-day life-style problems such as stress, worry, insecurity, anxiety, lack of peace etc.

By oneself alone is evil done,

By oneself is one defiled,

By oneself is evil avoided,

By oneself is one purified,

Purity and impurity depend on oneself,

No one can purify another.

- Dhammapada

Living in the Nawabi city, Hyderabad, what comes to one’s mind is the iconic Charminar or the Buddha statue in the middle of Hussain Sagar Lake. The 350 tonne monolithic colossus measuring 18 meters tall rising from the placid waters of the picturesque Hussain Sagar Lake is a reverent homage to the founding culture of the Telugu land. This monumental statue is a humble tribute to the living memory of Lord Buddha. The statue was consecrated by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, during his visit to united Andhra Pradesh, to preside over the ‘Kalachakra-2006’ ceremonies.

Next comes the Ananda Budha Vihara, rechristened Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara in 2014, is gearing up to celebrate Buddha Jayanthi, which falls on May 21 this year. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is expected to be the guest of honour on that day.  Two books in Telugu are also to be released on that day. They are the Parijita Pali – book on discipline and the other Jataka Kathalu, story on the life of Buddha. In all there are 552 stories on the Lord. These stories help us to practice patience, being equanimous and wise.

Immediately after taking over the reins of the State, Chandrasekhar Rao said that the Telangana government would develop Nagarjuna Sagar as a prominent place of Buddhist significance. Nagarjuna Sagar in Nalgonda district holds a historical and religious significance for Buddhism as a number of Buddhist monasteries and inscriptions have been found during excavations.

On the occasion of Buddha Jayanthi last, the chief minister visited the ‘Buddhavannam’ (garden) in Nagarjuna Sagar, and said the government would develop the ‘Sri Parvatha Rama- Buddhavannam’ at Nagarjuna Sagar in Nalgonda district.

Senior monk at Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara, Venerable Bhikku Buddhapala said that Buddha Jayanthi is not only the birthday of Lord Buddha, but the day he got enlightenment and left this world. “On this day, we have Kathina Civara Dana (presenting robes to monks), Dhammacakka pavattana day (Celebrating the day on which Bhagwan set the Dhamma in motion),” Buddhapala said. There is also Annadanam for the public.

He said that Lord Buddha spent much of his life in the shade of trees – he was born under a Sala tree, experienced first meditational absorption under a jambu tree, attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree and finally passed away in a Sala grove at Kusinagara.

Venerable Bhikku  Dhammarakkhita, from Nizamabad,  who has been at the Vihara since a year and has been practicing Buddhism since four decades, said that Buddha’s teachings are important in the contemporary life to enjoy peace, happiness, prosperity and wisdom, and overcome stress, tension, worry, fear, frustrations and various kinds of dukkha.

Speaking about the Dhamma, Buddhapala said: “The Dhamma is the teaching of deliverance in its entirety, as discovered, realized and proclaimed by the Buddha. It has been handed down in the ancient Pali language and preserved in the three great collections of books, called Ti-Pitaka, the ‘Three Baskets’.”

They are:

• The Vinaya Pitaka, or collection of discipline containing the rules of the monastic order;

• The Sutta-Pitaka, or collection of discourses consisting of various books of discourses, dialogues, verses, stories, etc. and dealing with the doctrine proper as summarised in the four Noble Truths;

• The Abhidhamma-Pitaka, or Philosophical Collection, presenting the teaching of the Sutta-Pitaka in strictly systematic and philosophical form

Explaining deeply about the Dhamma, the senior monk said that Dhamma was not a doctrine of revelation but the teaching of Enlightenment based on the clear comprehension of actuality. “It is the teaching of the Fourfold Truth dealing with the fundamental facts of life and with liberation attainable through man’s own efforts of purification and insight,” he said.

What is the Threefold Refuge? Dhammarakkhita said that the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, are called ‘The Three Jewels’ (ti-ratana) on account of their matchless purity, and as being to the Buddhist the most precious objects in the world. “These ‘Three Jewels’ form also the ‘Threefold Refuge’ (ti-sarana) of the Buddhist. In the formula by which he expresses ‘Going for refuge’, he professes, or re-affirms, his acceptance of the three jewels as the guides of his life and thought,” the monk said.

Senior monk Buddhapala said that after the formula of the Three-fold refuge, it is the acceptance of the Five Moral Precepts (panca-sila). “Their observance is the minimum standard needed to form the basis of decent life and of further progress towards deliverance,” he said.  Explaining at length, he said that they are:

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from killing living beings

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking things not given

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from false speech

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness

Many of us are aware of the following verse:

Buddham saranam gacchami

Dhammam saranam gacchami

Sangham saranam gacchami.

What is it and what does it mean?

This is the Pali formula of Refuge and it has been coming down from Buddha’s time. It means:

I go for refuge to the Buddha

I go for refuge to the Dhamma

I go for refuge to the Sangha

“It is through the simple act of reciting this formula three times that one declares oneself a Buddhist,” the senior monk said.

It may also be recalled that in 1956, in Nagpur, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar joined Buddhism along with 5,00,000 followers to reduce the influence of caste system in the country and give people of lower castes, a life of dignity. According to census, the number of Buddhists in the country in 1981was 4.65 million and by 1991, grew to 6.32 million. It is said that about 80% of this population lives in Maharashtra. Off late, there has been awareness of human rights and many people have converted to Buddhism. Recently, University of Hyderabad student Rohit Vemula’s mother and younger brother converted to Buddhism.

Speaking about the Mahabodhi Foundation, Hyderabad, senior monk said that it is the latest affiliate of Mahabodhi Society, Bangalore. “It is an active, even thriving, organization with six resident monks and 33- monks and 27 students. The Vihara apart from providing spiritual guidance to the local Buddhists is engaged in spreading Buddhasasanna.  The Foundation has ambitious plans for developing the Vihara as an exemplary monastery and to build a self-contained retreat for meditation,” Buddhapala said.

“At the Vihara, we do our own work. The trainee and student monks are involved in extra-curricular activities like gardening, decorations, management, cleaning, drawing, arts, robe making, sports and others. We also clean the area. They are also trained in getting vegetables, flowers, fruits from market for daily use,” Buddhapala said.

The Mahabodhi educational institution has been founded with a view to give the best of modern education along with character building teachings. “The school provides holistic education in an atmosphere of love and care allowing the children to grow naturally and happily developing intelligence, compassion and wisdom at every stage,” he said.

What do the student monks study, Buddhapala said that the books used to teach the junior monks include, Pali Patha – 1, 2, 3, 4, Comprehensive Pali course – 1 & 2, Life of Buddha, Vinaya Pitaka, Buddhist Monastic Discipline, Manual of Buddhist Devotional Chanting, Suttas (selected) from Sutta Pitaka, Sutta Sangaho, Dhammapada Stories, Jataka Stories, English readers, Buddha and his Dhamma – 1, History of Pali Language and Literature, Abhidhamma in daily life, Fundamentals of Abhidhamma – 1, Comprehensive Manuals of Abhidhamma.

The monk said that a normal teaching of only what is required to become a monk takes nearly five years, moreover it also depends on the ability of the student.  “Those students, who are interested in following the formal education, such students appear for NIOS exam. They later follow up their studies by joining formal colleges or continue education privately. The others come into practicing Buddhism,” he said.

For those looking for peace and contentment, the Vihara organises lectures every Sunday on various subjects dealing with real life situations and problems and how to find solution through the practice of the Dhamma. “These Sunday programmes include puja and sutta chanting, undertaking precepts, meditation, dhamma discourse and interaction with the monks from 6-7.30 PM,” he said. What is a normal day like at the Vihara? It starts at 4.30 AM, and from 5-6 AM, there is half an hour chanting and half-an-hour meditation. At 6.30 AM it is breakfast time. After that there is half an hour assembly.  After the assembly one monk speaks on the Dhamma. He will first recite the verse and then speak about it at length. The student monk’s routine will include vinaya and daily life strengths.

The children are taught Sutras too, which is nothing but discourses of Buddha.  The trainee monks are also taught Pali language. “At the Vihara, the lunch is taken before sun shines on the head,” Buddhapala said adding that from 12 noon -2 PM it is rest time and classes once again will commence between 2 to 4 PM. At 4 PM the children will have some juices. It is only liquids after one meal in the afternoon. Then in the evening from 6-7.30 PM, there is meditation and chanting. The junior monks have to do their homework, in short learn their day’s lessons and they retire for the day at 9.30 PM.

Bhikku Dhammarakkhita states that he is associated with the Telugu Tipitaka Project. “The sacred teachings of the Buddha are in Pali language and the great monks and devotees have preserved these teachings in its pristine purity in Pali from generation to generation. Mahabodhi has undertaken a project to translate the entire Pali literature into Telugu language. “Those who are interested to learn Pali and join the translation project are welcome,” he said. Bhikku Dhammarakkhita has translated the Jataka Tales in Telugu.

Buddhapala said that practicing of moral values and meditation can bring about peace in the society. “On this Buddha Jayanthi, We invite people to learn Buddha’s teaching. What originated in India, we Indians are not realising it. Practice it and study it for one’s own happiness,” he said. Before signing off, Buddhapala said: “Today’s education lacks moral education, we must teach our children moral values and Meditation for the path of enlightenment.”

With annual exams over and getting into a new class, children would be excitedly looking forward to the summer vacation? What are your children doing this summer? This is the longest break one gets in a year. It is always better to learn one activity - language, literature, music and art that will help them grow into better individuals.

It is summer time now! Very soon children would be having their long summer break. Some of them would be off to their Grandparents’ home on their annual vacation. If it is in the rural setting, oh, what fun it would be as the green expanse would be so beautiful and pleasing for the eyes. Getting up early and taking a stroll in the fields will be a breath taking and memorable experience.

Even if it is in urban setting, grandparents are grandparents. They would bestow their love and affection on them and regale them with stories of their childhood and their parent’s childhood. Some of them would teach them about the stories in the Panchatantra, Mythology and of great leaders. While some others would be off with their parents on a location to serene tourist spots.

However, by now those who are at home must be cycling on their bicycles around the apartment block with their friends to the nearest market. Cricket, badminton, tennis, pithu games have all returned to keep the children excited. Well, we do agree that play is an important part of life but at the same time we insist that every child by the end of the holidays must have picked up one hobby. Morning time can be hobby time and evening - play time, when it is cool.

During summers it is advisable to learn classical arts like music and dance, painting, sketching, clay modeling, pottery, some innovative craft, meditation, yoga, swimming or for those interested to improve their vocabulary can join some creative classes. Those who love adventure can join some adventure camp or those interested in picking languages can start learning German, French Japanese or our own Sanskrit language. Some of them can help out their parents at home.

Dinayat Ali of Outlife says that children who attend summer camps often show an increase in self-confidence and independence. “They learn positive values from positive role models and gain leadership and communication skills outside of the school and home setting. Children have a chance to develop as individuals and are given the freedom to be themselves. The Children will learn practical outdoor and life skills turning them into confident, creative and self-reliant individuals,” he says.

We list below some summer activities for children. Check it out.

Classical Arts

Every Child must take pride in the country’s traditional arts. Be it dance or music. There are so many different forms of classical arts in our country. Beginning with Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakalli, Oddissi, Kathak, Prerini Natyam, Vilasini Natyam, and Mohiniattam among many others. In music, there is the traditional Carnatic or Hindustani or in the instruments there is Violin, Sitar, Sarod, and in the percussion - Mridangam, Tabla, Flute or Harmonium. Children have a lot of choices to learn one art from these. The classical arts will no doubt help us to retain our Samskruti. Salsa and Ballet too are catching up in the city.

At some places, youngsters are learning Bollywood dance, Hip Hop and others. Learning any art is good as it helps you to relax your mind, body and soul. Teachers across the city are teaching these art forms. Pick one near your place of stay.

Painting/Sketching

Picking up a pencil and making a sketch too is an art. Sometimes, we are unable to draw a straight line too. Teachers advise parents to give their child colouring books and ask them to colour it in the blocks. This activity helps the kids in many ways. It helps them to concentrate and be alert. So that the colour doesn’t come out of the block and it also helps them in writing neatly. Who knows what turns out to be a fun activity in childhood could become a profession in the future. So better to skecth.

Cooking/Stitching

This is no longer a girl’s activity. In fact boys too are coming forward to learn cooking and stitching. The art of becoming independent is helping them to learn these activities. First you love to cook without using fire and slowly make those dishes and surprise your parents with cooking. Well it is better to learn putting a stitch on the dress/shirt before it needs a major repair. Also one can stitch a button on your own.

Kung Fu/ Taichi

Learning martial art is a must nowadays for boys and girls. They not only learn to protect themselves but also to be more disciplined and healthy. In this category, the children can learn the traditional martial art from Kerala, Kalaripayattu.

Learn Languages

It is always fun to know a language other than your mother tongue. In school, we learn English, Hindi and Sanskrit, while some of them learn Japanese, French or German. How fun it would be if one learnt French or German this summer. Goethe Zentrum Hyderabad is organizing German summer course for children. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe believed that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. ‘One of these is roots, the other, wings.’

In the German language summer course, children will learn German through games, puzzles, songs, stories and other activities. “Our course is designed to develop language skills (speaking, writing, reading and listening) and our methodology encourages confidence, creativity, communication and team-working skills,” says the counselor at Goethe Zentrum. So give your children wings by giving them an opportunity to learn a foreign language!

Instrumental Music

Hyderabad Western Music Forum (HWMF) Academy presents an Introduction to Music Course for children aged five to eight and nine to 12. HWMF’s Joe Koster says that the course will focus on developing musical abilities for children, including rhythmic and melodic skills. “After this course, they can pick up different instruments or the vocal training confidently and excel in it,” Koster says. He adds that the HWMF will teach - Notation and music reading; Playing musical instruments such as percussion and recorders and Making homemade musical instruments.

Koster says that teachers Nicole Connolly Bhatia and George Hull would teach music to the students. Nicole Connolly Bhatia studied music in Canada and teaches flute and beginner piano in Hyderabad through the HWMF Academy.  George Hull is a Saxophonist who plays with some popular jazz bands in town - Jazz for Joy & Jazzed Friends. He teaches wind instruments with the HWMF Academy.

Young Adventurer

With many of them living in apartments and lack of parks and open space for playgrounds many children would love outdoor activities. Oh! What fun it would be to enjoy with your own age group and learn to be on your own. Outlife is organizing five days and four nights Outdoor Summer Camp at Keesargutta. The camp is being conducted for children in the age Group of 8 to 15 years (Boys and Girls). The camp is under the supervision of Diyanat Ali, the founder of GHAC and Outlife. Outlife focuses on bringing Outdoor Education to Schools and youngsters to enhance personal development.

Diyanat Ali says that nowadays children spend less time in Nature and the outdoors than any earlier generation, depriving themselves of the emotional and physical benefits that come from bonding with nature leading to a disorder known as Nature Deficit Disorder. “Instead of going green, the young ones are going screen. Indian Kids spend on an average daily eight hours on TV, Games and Gadgets.”

Activities include Nature and Adventure based Learning, Experiential Learning, Cultural and Personality Development activities.

Make a Robo

All of us dream of robo doing our work, how fun it would be if we could learn to build our own robo. Children in the age group of seven to 16 years have a chance of learning to make a robo. To help them in this endeavor EduRobo Pvt Ltd offers various facets of Robotics education to students and aid them emerge into inquisitive young engineer. Their modules enhance logical and critical thinking among students. EduRobo offers different programme and modules for students.

Children in the age group of 7-11 years will be introduced to Robotics and small group activities in one session. In the next two sessions, they will make a Mini Project - Walker and in the Major Project - Remote Control Bot, in another two sessions. Children in the age group of 12-16 years will be introduced to Robotics and Basic Electronics, Circuits in the first session. In four sessions, they will make a Mini Project - Traffic Lights and Major Project - Light Following Robot. The camp will be on from April 11-25.

Histrionics Display

As a child and mostly at school, not a day would pass when one will not mimic the other. Sometimes we mimic our favourite or not so favourite teacher or at a fancy dress competition, we enact like a Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. How better would it be if we learnt a few theatrics from an expert. To whet the appetite of youngsters the Samhaara Theatre group headed by Rathna Shekhar Reddy and Anjali Parvati Koda hold classes for juniors. Reddy says that theatre is the best learning tool to inculcate confidence, develop public-speaking and narrative skills for children. It makes them more creative, better team players and gives them tools to express themselves.

Samhaara promises a fun-filled workshop that is entertaining and educating for youngsters. “We have seen children come out of their shells, give life to their budding creativity and evolve as people. Samahaara has contributed in bringing out the best young theatre talent in the twin cities,” says Reddy.

The organiser says that the workshops are designed to introduce participants to the art of acting, focusing on learning the basics of Stage acting, Movement, Stage geography and Improvisation. As always workshops by Samahaara are fun and handled by experienced theatre professionals.

Samahaara Children’s Theatre Workshop is for children in the ages of eight to 13 years. It gets off on 18th April and ends on 6th May 2016. There are two batches from 10 AM to 12 Noon and 4 PM to 6 PM at Gachibowli, Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills.

Instilling Creativity

Nayantara Nandakumar of Our Sacred Space says: “Sending your child to summer camp is an incredibly effective way of seeing them rise to their full potential. It empowers them to step out of their comfort zones and learn new things, make new friends in a new environment without the help of parents.” She says that at Our Sacred Space, Summer Camp is all about being confident, creative, learning new skills, doing fun things and creating happy memories for a life time.

“We offer Music, Yoga, Indian Sign Language, Kung Fu, Salsa, Taichi, Cooking, Stitching, Art, Craft, Interactive theatre and pottery for our summer camp students aged from 5-14 years,” Nayantara says, adding the summer camp would be held May 3 to 31, 2016.

All-round Development

Another centre that increases the passion of learning is the Books n More, a library and activity centre, in Secunderabad. “We offer reading programs, math programs, storytelling workshops, theatre workshops, communication skills programs and other activities for all round development of a child’s personality,” says director Varsha Ramesh. She quickly adds that they also offer baking and chocolate making classes for women.

Recently, the youngsters here had a robot building activity. While learning on France, the children had a lot of fun-filled activity. Varsha says: “We built an Eiffel Tower, and cooked up a French bread sweet, walked the ramp in fashionable Paris, in French learnt to say Good Day.” Oh! What fun it is, if the kids learn about one country like this. Here there are many activities.

Academically Right

Bina Bhandari, founder of Turn the Tables, come every summer holds workshops for children. At her workshop, the children are involved in more creative activities. “At my workshop, each session is for two hours and the duration is either a week or a fortnight,” Bina says, adding that all her classes begin on a Monday. “More importantly they are for children nine years and above.

At Turn the Tables, Bina has split her academic activity into seven categories. They are - The Art of Debating, Public Speaking and Poetry Reading; two levels of Public Speaking and Creative Writing; Understanding English Grammar; Spell-Fun and the Art of Conversation, Body Language, Table Etiquette and the basics of Interviewing Skills.

Those of you, who are interested in public speaking will learn, Bina says: “Understanding speech making in relation to communication goals such as to inform, motivate, persuade and stimulate.” In creative writing, children will learn the tools to writing well. “This will include Poetry, Story and Essay. Develop plot, theme, setting, character, dialogue and the essentials of sentence and paragraph structure,” says Bina. The workshops kick off on April 25 and ends on June 4.

Martial Arts are classified systems and traditions of warfare practices. These art forms are practiced for different reasons, like self-defence, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as spiritual development. Every person must learn one Martial Art form to be prepared for lurking dangers all around. It has become essential for people to safeguard themselves from any physical harm, whether inside or outside their homes.

H Sarita (name changed) was walking back home, she was being followed by a guy. This has been happening for two consecutive days. She just kept quiet. But on the third day, the guy brushed past her, she just sent him flying. A karate student, her one punch was enough to send him packing

H Srividya (name changed) loved sports, but was not clear on what sports to excel in. She had heard about so many martial arts, but chose Taekwondo, which is different and has done her parents and school proud by bagging prizes at events

H Anant, had heard a lot about Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art. He began training in this as he felt that it originated from his own country and for him it resembled a war dance. An advantage in this is the Kalari massage

H Nalini, a senior citizen, began learning Tai Chi, as she felt her knees and neck were giving her immense pain. From the third month onwards, she could feel the change. This martial art is not only for self-defence, but it also helps in rebuilding one’s health

Martial Arts teaching methodology provides consistent and systematic approach for training children, women and men in balancing mind, body and spirit. It is always necessary to learn Martial Arts for fitness, self-defence and competition. One should be committed to learn martial arts that will help in character building, instilling confidence and increasing self-esteem, leading to success and positivity.

Chief instructor N Babu Rao, who teaches Tai Chi at YMCA, Secunderabad and Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad, says that Tai Chi (Tie-Chee), originally developed for self-defence, has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. “Often described as meditation in motion, Tai Chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements,” he says.

Babu Rao’s Guru, Indian Grand Master G Prakash Rao, says that Tai Chi is the moving meditation and supreme power.  Analysts say: “The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as the Supreme Ultimate Force, the notion seen as a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things. ‘Force’ (literally, ‘fist’) can be thought of here as the means or way of achieving this ‘supreme-ultimate discipline’.

The chief instructor says that the form of Tai Chi, in performance, it looks like a classical dance with graceful movements and alert actions. “It also offers a balanced drill to the muscles and joints of various body parts in the way of complicated actions which, in turn, are regulated by the timing of deep breathing and the movement of the diaphragm,” Babu Rao says.

He says that a tranquil state of mind and complete dedication to spiritual concentration on all the movements are required during the exercise. “This will ensure that the central nervous system, including its cardinal components is given sufficient training and is consequently toned up with time as the exercise continues. It is quite logical to say that the efficiency of the various organs of our body depends largely on the soundness of the nervous system. In other words, a strong central nervous system is the basic condition of a healthy body,” the Tai Chi exponent says.

Tai Chi, as it is practiced today, can perhaps be thought of as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined. There are a number of so called forms (sometimes so called ‘sets’) which consists of a sequence of movements. ‘Many of these movements are originally derived from the martial arts (and perhaps even more ancestrally than that, from the way they are performed in Tai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully, with smooth and even transitions between them,” states Rao.

Benefits of Tai Chi

The benefits of Tai Chi movements include increased health, wellness, peace of mind, etc. Needless to say, all of these perceived health benefits can greatly enhance a person’s ability to increase his or her quality of life.

“The movement of the muscles exerts pressure on the veins, forcing the blood to flow towards the heart. During the deep breathing, the muscles of the diaphragm act to massage the liver and viscera bringing a marked improvement to the functioning of these organs.

To the viscera, arterial and respiratory systems, the Tai Chi Chuan will bring forth the same beneficial effects. Besides exercising the muscles and joints as aforesaid, it gives rise to harmonised and uniform breathing, especially in the movement of the diaphragm. Therefore, it can improve the circulation of the blood and lymphatic gland,” he says.

Babu Rao’s student, Nalini says that one of the characteristics of Tai Chi Chuan is that breathing is brought into harmony with the actions. “Since the breathing is so deep that the intake of air to the lungs is greater in quantity than usual, a greater amount of oxygen is available for consumption and thus, blood circulation is accelerated. What is more important is that the blood vessels catering for the nourishment of the heart and the viscera respectively are expanded. In this respect, Tai Chi serves effectively as a tool to prevent all kinds of diseases of the heart and viscera and inflexibility of the cardiac muscle.” She and her husband are both enrolled for the Tai Chi classes as it has made a marked improvement to their health.

Babu Rao explains that the form of Tai Chi, an artistic style of exercise, has a lot of other characteristics. “They are very helpful to those who practice it. For example, one of them is the tranquility of mind which can be achieved thorough out the movement. The moves are as fluid as the running water of streams and rivers, while the mind is so peaceful, and the actions so graceful that it is much the same tranquil state as that found in Taoism,” he says adding that the movements of Tai Chi keep the heart and the lungs in a proper and comfortable condition, giving the body and the mind a lot of benefit. Tai Chi not only improves one’s health but also changes one’s disposition. He says that Karate is the mother of all art forms.

Sijo G Prakash Rao, the Grandmaster, member of World Grandmasters Council. A Red Belt holder in Kung Fu and Tai Chi traditions, Prakash Rao learnt the art from both Buddhist and Taoist masters of Far East Asian Origins.  Established in 1975, the Shaolin Tao Chi Academy, a martial arts institute teaches Martial Arts and Fitness Programmes. “The knowledge and practice of Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Buddhist, Taoist, Yogic applications promotes life style management initiatives as well as stress relief programmes,” he says.

Students at Shaolin Tai Chi Academy believe that the skill of diligent practice combined with resourceful tranquil mind does wonders in realisng one’s own potential to be fit for the challenges to survive in modern world of competitive existence. The Academy has trained many people across the South, as well as Sri Lanka, Maldives and Mauritius.

Ancient Art

Lakshman Gurukkal, founder and director of Kalari Gram, Auroville, says that Kalaripayattu is the ancient Indian Martial Art originated in Kerala. “It is all about inner peace and fluid animal movements. A traditional form of martial art that started in Kerala, Kalaripayattu is believed by the historians to be one of the oldest existing martial arts in the world,” Lakshman says.

Speaking about Kalaripayattu, Lakshman Gurukkal says that Kalaripayattu is the oldest form of oriental martial art. “It encapsulates Kerala’s unique cultural mytho-historical heritage. Kalaripayattu is derived from the combination of two words as ‘Kalari’ which means the training place and ‘Payattu’ means the training. Kalari is considered as the arena where traditional psycho-physiological disciplines practices of which cultivate mental, physical and spiritual benefits,” he says.

According to Lakshman the Kalari legacy is also considered as a scientific system of physical-culture training beneficial to the modern sportsman and physical culturist. “If the ‘lived body’ in its concreteness is the site of experience and source of knowledge for the practitioner, contemporary discourses and representations of the body and martial practice play a crucial role in shaping the fundamental assumptions of Kalaripayattu practitioner has about his body and the experience of practice,” Lakshman says.

Lakshman Gurukkal explains that Kalari Gram has been honoured with many national and international awards for its outstanding accomplishments in the field of Kalaripayattu and Ayurveda. “Many national and international universities have chosen Kalari Gram for their extension study programmes. Students from various countries such as Germany, Brazil, China, Japan, Italy, Finland, Portuguese, Switzerland, Austria etc. study Kalaripayattu in Kalari Gram,” he says.

Speaking about the effects of Kalari massage, the Kalaripayattu expert says that it helps in many ways like Positive health giving therapy, Corrective Musculo-skeletal applications, Treatments for specific injuries, Pathological conditions including bruises, joint dislocations, bone fractures, Emaciation of muscles and limbs and Post-operative orthopedic rehabilitation. He shares that Prime Minister Narendera Modi had undergone a 15-day Kalari massage treatment at Auroville.

The Kerala martial art exponent says that the practice of Kalaripayattu promotes stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium, Stablises pulse rate and blood pressure levels, Increases Galvanic Skin Response, Improve Cardiovascular efficiency, Increases respiratory efficiency, Normalises Gastrointestinal function, Endocrine function normalizes, Excretory functions improve and Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase.

He goes on to add that Kalaripayattu helps in many other ways like Breath-holding, Increasing grip strength, Eye-hand coordination, Energy level goes up, Normalizes weight, Sleep improves, Immunity increases among many other things. Lakshman firmly believes that Kalaripayattu training balances the activity of opposing muscle groups and it is a non-competitive, process-oriented training. “Kalaripayattu training offers limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness and by its training, Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increases,” he says. A Kalari workshop by Guru Lakshman Gurukkal is coming up in April at Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad.

Martial Arts is taught mainly to prevent, deal and overcome all kinds of violence and attacks. Kalyan Dance and Martial Arts Academy trains students in self-defence, self-protection, fighting which involves striking techniques. “Martial arts training implies that a student upholds the philosophical principles of the art and practices its techniques in a fashion similar to the founder’s or in the style’s natural progression,” says director Kalyan.

Bandi Institute of Martial Arts (BIMA) is affiliated to World Karate & Kickboxing Council (W.K.C) and is a member of International Kickboxing Federation (IKF), World Karate Confederation (WKC), World Budo Development Society (WBDS) and J .R International Taekwondo Academy (affiliated to Kukkiwon). The school is devoted to the development of Kickboxing, Cardio Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Karate and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

BIMA President, B. Chandra Sekhar, says that Martial Arts teaches many skills like Self-Defence, Be Stronger, Lose Weight, Toning of body, Increasing Energy, Improving Stamina, Increasing Concentration, Stress Relief, Live Longer, Gain Flexibility, Gain Self-Control, Discipline and Leadership Skills.

Martial arts modern practitioners’ state that through martial arts training Students can do body building flexibility, strength, endurance and speed. Practitioners can improve mental discipline, increase physical fitness or gain self-defence skills. Taika Martial Arts Academy center in Hyderabad offers different body building and fitness classes for students like karate classes, kickboxing, mixed martial arts and self-defence for women. The Academy had won many gold medals at an international event held at Mumbai from 25 to 30 November 2015.

Taika Martial Arts Academy also teaches women, self-defence which is the central goal of karate classes. The Academy states that Fairer sex learn to use their whole body to defend and attack, while Beginners learn the basic forms of effective punches, kicks and blocks. “Advanced students learn complicated combinations and difficult manoeuvers, such as high kicks and grapples. Once if Women reach the higher levels of training in self-defence, they will have the ability to defend themselves in dangerous situations, including attacks by multiple people,” an official said.

Kickboxing is one of those physically demanding sports that can change life for the better. It is said that one can see great improvements in the overall quality of life with Kickboxing. “People of all ages and from every walk of life can benefit from this program. The techniques that students learn from this Academy have helped some to achieve regional, national, and even world champion status. They teach life lessons within a relevant, street-applicable art of self-defence,” he said.

Kung Fu is the most powerful, where students learn stretching, stances, kicks, jumps, movements, and empty hand, traditional weapons forms. Another Martial Art, one can learn is Ninja Kungfu, which apart from being a fitness regimen, is a self defence art. The Art and science of Taekwondo is a traditional Korean Martial Art and Olympic sports. Taekwondo is made from three Korean Words - ‘Tae’ means foot techniques, ‘Kwon’ means hand techniques and ‘Do’ means way of life. Taekwondo is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing spirit and life through training body and mind.

Kickboxing is a group of martial arts and stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from Martial arts like karate and Boxing. The success of kickboxing has allowed it to evolve into different types with different rules or goals to make it appeal to a larger audience of people.

Whatever Martial Art, one picks up to learn, it must be learnt truly as all Martial Arts help in having good health and protecting one-self from physical attacks.

Awarded the INTACH Heritage Award in 2002, Shri Rangantha Swamy Temple at Rangbagh witnesses dancers taking part in the temple rituals during the annual Brahmotsavams. Padma Bhushan Swapna Sundari was the first dancer to perform here.

The 365-year-old Shri Ranganatha Swamy temple situated at Rangbagh, 17 km from Hyderabad, near Indian School of Business Campus, is the only Temple in the country, which has aligned rituals of worship with dance, during the annual Brahmotsavams. This year, the Brahmotsavams will be celebrated from 14-21 February.

Present Chairman and managing trustee Shri Sharad B Pitti, son of late Shri Badrivishal Pitti, says that Shri Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Rangbagh, Nanakramguda is the first and only active temple of the present day which has aligned rituals of worship with dance. “It was in the year 1995, during the Brahmotsavams that my family decided to scale the celebrations at the temple. It so happened that I had gone to Kottakkal, for Ayurvedic treatment and there I saw Smt. Swapna Sundari perform at a temple during the Brahmotsavams. I met her and requested her to come to Hyderabad,” Pitti shares.

The Temple trustee says that Swapnaji came down in May 1995 and started performing at the Brahmotsavams at the Rangbagh Temple from1996. “In the beginning, we faced several hurdles in chanting of the mantras along with the dance. Then we were able to locate a priest who knew the mantras and took him to a studio and got them recorded and those tapes were forwarded to Swapnaji, who choreographed the dance pieces. Lot of coordination went into on how and when to perform the dances along with the rituals,” he says.

Piiti says that apart from introducing dance inside the Temple, from 1996, cultural programmes were also organised in the evenings in a specially decorated courtyard. The illumination of the Temple and celebrations were also taken up on a grand scale. From 1996 to 2000, Swapnaji and Kanupriya performed dances as part of the rituals inside the Temple, from 2001-2005 – it was the second league of dancers and from 2006 onwards dancers Anupama Kylash, Sanjay Joshi and others joined.

On the selection of dancers, for the rituals, Pitti says that they are chosen based on continuity and long term association. “It should not be that they perform for two years and leave,” he says. “Rangbagh Temple is the only temple in the country, which has aligned rituals of worship with dance. Dances should be revived in Temples. Private temples must take this initiative,” he says.

It was the first time in 1996, post independent India, that dance was restored to form an integral part of temple worship by a premier professional dancer other than the Devadasis. The Trust along with Swapna Sundari garu is conducting regular free classes in Vilasini Natyam where systematic coaching in the technique and repertoire of this style is imparted to selected students.

During Brahmotsavams, the dancers perform during Bala Bhogam, Bali Harana, Pallaki Seva and other certain temple rituals. Bala Bhogam – offering of the day’s first bhog to the deity, the dancer invokes the deity with a Choornika (Oratory hymn) followed by Nritta item called Pallavi. During Bali Harana – Morsels of cooked rice is offered with worshipful dances and music (chants), to the Dikpaalakas – guardian deities of the eight directions. It is said that the artists and priests go around the temple, invoking the eight Dikpaalkas along with Brahma, Garuda and Pashupathi seeking their protection of the temple and its surroundings.

Among the other sevas like Pallaki Seva, Kumbha Harathi and Heccharika – Procession of Utsava Murtis on a palanquin: The procession moves to the accompaniment of Mallari, a staccato musical composition played on the Naadaswaram. When the pallaki pauses and devotees offer prayers, the dancers sing and dance devotional hymns. As the pallaki re-enters the temple, the dancer nullifies any likely evil effects upon deities by performing the Kumbha Harathi. After this act of cleansing, a Heccharika is sung to further ward off inauspicious elements.

Devotees state that the temple vibrates with a special energy during the Brahmotsavam. The Abhishekam and Kalyanotsavam of Shri Ranganatha Swamy and Maha Lakshmi are one of the many highlights of the festival.

Rathostvam, which falls on the seventh day of the festivities, the gaily decorated 35’ high, five-storeyed antique wooden chariot, is drawn about half a kilometer by the devotees where a spectacular display of fireworks takes place. After this, the effigy of Ravana is set ablaze to symbolise the victory of virtue over vice. Every year thousands of devotees attend the Brahmotsavam and add to its grandeur.

Week-long cultural programmes are held every evening featuring upcoming and renowned artists during the Brahmotsavams.

On this occasion, we spoke Dr. Anupama Kylash, Sanjay Joshi, Girja Kishore and Pujita Krishna, who have taken part in the temple rituals.

Sanjay Joshi, Kathak dancer, on his association with the Temple festivities, says that it was mainly thanks to his guru Padmabhushan Swapna Sundari. “I travelled with her to all the villages in Andhra Pradesh and was fascinated with the art form from day one, I saw the demonstration of the old Devadasis,” Sanjay says.

Swapnaji trained Sanjay in performing the rituals, but being a male dancer, he had his apprehensions.

“We had an opportunity to perform dance rituals at one of the temples in Pushkar, Rajasthan. While I was training other girls for the performance, the Rangbagh temple trustee came to see the performance. At that time, I informed him that I was keen on performing the rituals at the temple. He replied, the decision had to be taken by Guruji,” Sanjay says.

“It was Sanjay Joshi, who introduced me to the temple and I first performed during the cultural evening in 2005. My performances inside the temple began a year later and I have been dancing every year since then,” recollects Anupama Kylash.

Dancers Girija Kishore and Pujita Krishna Jyoti began learning Vilasini Natyam under Swapna Sunadri and Anupama Kylash, who had already been trained under her, from 2003 and 2007 respectively. “After being trained in the fundamentals of Vilasini Natyam, I was taught few segments of the ritual dances of this form which is an integral part of it. One year, I got to perform Bali Harana, Bala Bhogam, Pallaki Seva, Kumbhaharathi, and Hecharika,” says Girija Kishore.

Pujita says that she got an opportunity to perform the rituals for the first time in 2008. “I have performed every year since 2008 till last year, except for in 2009 when I was away at University of California for my Master’s in Dance,” Pujita says. Sharing their memorable moments at the temple, Sanjay says: “The first ritual I danced for the God.” For Anupama, it was when she saw Swapna Sundari do an elaborate dance at Pashupathi sthana in front of the Dikpaalakas. For Girija, it was in 2008, when she was given an opportunity to perform in the ‘Kalyanotsavam’, which is celebrated at midnight muhurtam in the beautifully decorated kalyana mandapam, outside the temple premises.

“It gives me an immense pleasure to perform in the annual Brahmotsavam in the Rangbagh temple,” says Girija, adding: “As the Brahmotsavam occurs during winter season annually, the pleasant cold winter night, the mystifying moon, the chilling, wet mud floor, decorated with beautiful rangoli designs, the echoing wedding mantras, the music on the ‘sannayi’ and the ‘dholu’, creates magic in the atmosphere. Any dancer in that ambience would sense a vibrant energy seeping into them. The dance then becomes heavenly. I experience goose bumps even while recollecting that performance of mine. No performance, either in Kuchipudi or Vilasini Natyam, on stage, has left me with this kind of thrilling and mysterious memory.”

Pujita says that there is excitement of preparations and rehearsals, especially if one is presenting something new. “It is one time of the year that handful of Vilasini Natyam dancers set aside all their other personal and professional commitments for the week-long Brahmotsavam celebrations. Sometimes, we even spend the nights there, since the rituals especially on the day of Kalyanotsavam go on into the wee hours of the morning. Also, one looks forward to watching performances of artists from across the country, who come and perform on the stage erected outside the temple during the festival,” she says.

The only male Vilasini Natyam dancer agrees that dances should be performed at all the temples. Anupama too says that after painstakingly resurrecting dance as a ritual, an artist finds fulfillment. “Definitely, Music and dance are, expressly mentioned in our shastras, as an important feature of seva in temples,” says Pujita. Girija points out that the very purpose of dance was originally meant to please the Divine and to be a powerful means to bring the dancer as well the spectator, back to its final destiny, the experience of merging ‘jeevatma’ into ‘paramatma’. This sacred dance form should be performed more in the place where it originated. Even the Aagama Shastra states very clearly that dance is a part of the ritual of the temple.”

When quizzed about whether temple managements must have performing artistes on board, Anupama says that she would always come back to perform at the Rangbagh temple. She agrees with Sanjay that there should be well-qualified dancer who is trained in the ritual dances to check whether rituals performed are correct to the context of the rituals. Girija says that dance should be brought back to the temples, only by recruiting dancers, who are well-trained in the aspect of ritual dances, under the guidance of able gurus.

Pujita definitely wants musicians and dancers representation on Temple management as they have a direct connection to the art as it is practiced and its relevance in a place of worship, not necessarily as ritual, but even simply as an act of artistic offering or ‘seva’ in performances.

Just like puranas at temples in the evenings or special days, musicians and dancers too can perform at the local temples, to propagate our rich culture heritage. “Temples have always been centre of culture,” says Anupama, and cultural performances have begun in temples. “Of course, we should have performances at temples as it was always there and the temple management should allocate funds for such activities,” Sanjay says. Pujita says that during Dusshera time, many temples organise cultural programmes. “What is NOT happening is restoration of dance as ritual within the temple complex except at Rangbagh,” Pujita says. Girija adds that at temples, dancers danced to the stories based on Hindu mythology, epics and puranas, in the temple courtyard to entertain and educate pilgrims.

“They used to perform very popular dance operas like Parijatham, Golla vesha kadha, etc.  to propogate Hindu culture and tradition. But unfortunately this practice has vanished in the ravages of time. It would be significant if musicians and dancers were allowed to reinstate this culture back in the temples, which was considered to be one of the key torch bearers of Hindu culture,” Girija says.

Explaining the coining of the word Vilasini Natyam, dancers Anupama and Sanjay in unison say that Vilasini Natyam comprises of Alaya Sampradayam, Kacheri Atta and Aata Bhagavatam. “As Alaya Sampradayam deals with the ritualistic aspect Kacheri Aata, in royal courts and darbars and Aata Bhagavatam in temple court yards for the common man, the then Devadasis used to do all these aspects of dance. So, to come to a common terminology to name this art form a panel of scholars, dancers, artists, etc. was sent an option of names and the majority of the panel members chose the name Vilasini Natyam.” Anupama and Pujita state that the term Vilasini Natyam was coined by Dr. Arudra.

Courtesy Photos JASS4team/Hyd

 

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