October 20th, 2011 by Anjali

In carnatic music Mallari is associated to Nadaswaram instrument, the Mangala vadyam (auspicious instrument).  Redention of Mallari is an important part of Nagaswaram repertoire. Nagaswaram music is a part of every day temple ritual. During deepaaradhana’s and temple processions Mallari is played with this instrument along with Tavil. The common ragas in which Mallari’s are presented are Gambheera nattai, Nattai, gowla, and Arabhi.

Following links have detailed information on types Mallari’s :

The following video demonstrates the  Mallari in Ragam Nattai and Talam Adi. Thanks to my friends on and Jaya Akka (daughter of Swami Malai Rajaratnam Pillai) who helped me identify this ragam and also shared an interesting fact. She said that the  song was composed by her legendary father Shri Swamimalai Rajaratnam Pillai as Pushpanjali for his students.


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Jatiswaram part 2

August 12th, 2011 by Anjali

The following videos demonstrates the 4th Korvai and the Charanam ‘Dha’.  For all the repeations of the Pallavi (Starting lines or thematic line of the song that is often repeated severel times), steps are done in accordance with the  swarams. The second video shows the first Charanam ‘da,,, ni da pa da’. They sound different from the Pallavi ( Sa,,,ni da pa ga ) that was being sung so far.  Charanam means “foot” in Sanskrit. Hence Charanams are end portions of a song. There can be one or more charanams to a song. Every charanam is followed by the Pallavi

4th Korvai:

Charanam ‘Dha”

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July 22nd, 2011 by Anjali

Jatiswaram is another Nritta piece. Here the advaus are performed to swara patterns. Like Sa , ni , da , pa. There is no Sahityam unlike Swarajati. Every Jati is alternated by Swarams. A jatiswaram has Charanams which are sung in swarams and followed by Pallavi every time.  There can be three or more charanams.

Jatiswarams are in different Ragams and Talams. The Tanjore quartets compositions are widely performed. Some famous composition are
Kalyani ragam Rupakam
Ragamalika in Misrachapu,
Vasantha in Rupakam.

Many have been asking how is Jatiswaram different from swarajati. One obvious difference is the presence of Sahityam in Swarajati, and none at all in Jatiswaram. Jatiswaram has Jatis (rhythmic syllables) included in its compositions. It is music applied to dance. While Swarajati is a pure musical form.

I will be demonstrating the one in Kalayani Ragam. Watch the first two parts of this Jatiswaram.

The first video demonstrates the first two jatis.

The second videos shows the third jati.

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Shijith Nambiar’s Upcoming Workshops in US

April 8th, 2011 by Anjali

Shijith Nambiar and Parvathi Nambiar are one of the few leading dancing couples in Bharatanatyam. It was their training is kalakshetra that brought the two dancing souls together as partner’s in life. Now they share the stage together with their duet choreographies.

During my phone conversation with him , he never made me feel that I was talking to an accomplished dancer who has won several title’s like  ‘Yuvabharathi’ and accolades around the globe. His soft spoken, polite and gentle tone shall never fail to impress  those who have interacted with him. When asked who inspired him to take up dancing. “My father” he said instantly. He started learning as a 9th grader and later after 12th joined Kalakshetra to complete his graduation and also served as a faculty there. For all those who feel that starting to learn Natyam during teens is a little too late, then Shijith’s story could inspire them to start. Well now he has numerous international collaborations and travels often for presentation and workshops.

Shijith is now on a US tour offering workshops at various locations:

April 9th – April 16th in New Jersey.

April 18th – April 23rd in Albany

May 6th – May 23rd in Texas.

But  If you are going to miss him this spring then, he and his team will be with us again this fall 2011 (sept-nov) with their new creation Eshwara. For more details on the venue and the contents of the workshop, please contact Shijith_Nambiar (at) Hotmail (dot) com. You can visit him at .

Here is a nice article about this dancing couple in the Hindu, which talks about their journey through the dancing world. Dance is not just my career, it is a prayer, religion, my life… says Shijith.

Some glimpses of their performance at the Milapfest

OnlineBharatanatyam family wishes Shijith and Parvathi loads of success and good luck for their future endeavors.

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March 31st, 2011 by Anjali

Kautukam means in “Praise of” . It is also called Kavithuvam or  Kausthuvam. Kavithuvam meaning “Poetic Quality”. The Kautukams were once performed  by temple dancers as rituals. On the day of “Tiruvadira” in month of  Margazi season (Margashirsha) when the gods were brought out for procession the Kautukams were danced and sung amidst the crowds. Certain temples had it own Kautukam. Panchamurthy kautukams were written on Lord Vinayaka, Muruga, Natesha, Sambanda and Sandeshwarar. The custom was to use high pitched ragas like Natti, Varali, Arabhi to compose them. Gangai Muthu Nattuvanar has composed most of the popular kautukams danced in the present .  Danseuse Priyadarshini Govind has made a special note on Navasandhi kautukams in her video CD . She says “The Navasandhi kautukams were performed in the temples at different sandhis (junctions of the temple).  This was performed to propitiate the Gods of different sandhis. The Navasandhi kautukams are on Brahma, Indra,  Agni, Yama, Niritti, Varuna, Vayu Kubera and Ishana.”  The Structure of kautukam is such that poetic lines are often followed and preceded by Sollu’s. Also the poetic lines are first recited and then sung in a ragam. Following are the kautukams that have been worked for you.

Nataraja or Natesha kautukam

Vinayaka Kautukam (coming soon)

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Natesha or Nataraja Kautukam

March 31st, 2011 by Anjali

I have here worked on the Natesha Kautukam. This was the Kautukam that I learnt probably when I was 8 or 9. The steps are same almost in every style. I like the the Kalakriya series music for this Kautukam. Hence the demonstration is a blend of what I had learnt and Mrs Priyadarshiniji’s choreography.  This Kautukam is in Ragam Varali and Adi Talam. (Composer: Gangai Muttu Nattuvanar)

Please see the lyrics and the meaning below:

Thatavana Muni Jana Sakala Asura-sura
One who is worshipped by the rishis of tadavana(dense forest) and the Demons and Gods alike.

Sannutha Paada Kinkini Jhum Jhum
I bow to him who adorns the anklets that make the sound jham jham.

Jhana Jhana Jhana Jhana Noopura laya gati
His Bells produce the sound jhana while he performs his cosmic dance

Ghana ghana ghana ghana Viti Hari Sevita
Bhrahma and vishnu also worship him.

Thaanda Vidambara
the one who performs the tandava

Vyaghrama Shankara
the one who is worshiped by vyagrahas

(If it was “Vygra charma Dhara“, then it would mean “one who wears the Tiger’s Skin”. This interpretation is also used in some songs. The hastas used would change. Check this link by Durga Swaminathan , between 2.33 to 2.42  to see what I meant.)

Trishula Dhara
One who holds the Trishula

Nandi Vaha,  Nada yoga priya
One who rides the Nandi, and one who loves dance and music.

Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Shashi ravi Bhoshana
Salutations to one who adorns the sun and the moon

Roopa Bhayankara
One who has an awesome personality .

(The word Bhayankara could also mean Fearful. But how can the lord be fearful? May be  his raudra Avatara sounds scary.)

Damaruka hasta
One who holds a Damru (handy percussion drum) in his hands.

Tritiya sahastra Dikshita Natha
One who is lord of Three thousand Dikshitas of Chidambaram

Please add your valuable comments and inputs to make this post a better reference material.

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February 3rd, 2011 by Anjali

Shloka/ Shlok/ Shlokam in sanskrit means a verse, hymn in praise of or a proverb.  They are usually two lined verses or a collection of such individual verses are then called as stotrams. Shlokam form a part of Hindu prayers. Following Shlokams were taught to me by my grandmother as a kid. They are the most common verses sung in every Indian homes.  While teaching I realized that children were excited to act out the shlokams  they chanted every day. It was in the dance class that they learnt what these verses meant , because I had to explain them every gesture that we put together. Now their prayer time was much more meaningful, as they surprised their parents with the meaning.

Watch the video for the demonstrations.

The above video demonstrates the following shlokas:-


Saraswati Namas thubyam
varade kama roopini
Vidya-rambham karishyami
Shiddhir bhavatumay sada


Hey Goddess Saraswati, my humble prostrations to you,
Who is an embodiment of all wishes
Remembering you I begin my studies
so that your grace and blessings shall bring success always.


Shuklam Bharadharam Vishnum,
Shashi varnam chatur bhujam,
prasanna vadanam dhyayet
sarva vighnopa shantayet,

Meaning :

one who wears a white garment; One who is everywhere
one who has the complexion like the moon; who has four arms
Who has a pleasant smiling countenane; one should meditate upon
in order to remove all obstacles


Shantakaram Bhujagashayanam
Padmanabham suresham
vishvadharam gaganasadrasham
meghavarnam shubhangam
lakshmi kantam kamala nayanam
yogi bhir gnyana gamyam
vande vishnum bhavabhaya haram
sarva lokaykanatham


I bow to Lord Vishnu the One Master of the Universe, who is ever peaceful, who reclines on the great serpent bed, from whose navel springs the Lotus of the Creative Power, who is the Supreme Being, who supports the entire universe, who is all-pervading as the sky, who is dark like the clouds and has a beautiful form; the Lord of Lakshmi, the lotus-eyed One, whom the yogis are able to perceive through meditation, He, who is the destroyer of the fear of Samsar


Gurur Brahma gurur vishnum
gurur devo maheshwaraha
guru sakshat parabrhma
tasmai shree gurave namaha


Oh teacher , I see you as Brahma, Teacher I see you as Vishnu, Hey Guru I see you as Mahesh(Shiva). You are the lord of Lords, I bow unto thee.

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December 10th, 2010 by Anjali

The word “Anjali” means “an offering”.  Thus offering can be made in various ways.  The most commonly heard is pushpanjali ie an offering with “pushpam” meaning flowers, Geetanjali an offering of a song that is geetam, Swaranjali an offering of music, Shraddhanjali an offering of love.

In this context Pushpanjali is an offering of flowers by the dancer. It is an invocation piece done at the beginning of a performance.  Sometimes a shlokam is also incorporated into it. Shlokam can be in praise of any deity. Pushpanjali that I have explained here is most commonly seen with the students of Kalakshetra Lineage.

These videos below will aid you in learning and understanding Pushpanjali.

Pushpanjali: Mushika Vahana,  Ragam: Nattai, Talam: Adi

Pushpanjali Part 1

Pushpanjali Part 2

Pushpanjali Part 3

(updated on 4/19/2011)
I have been looking for a good version on this song and finally found on You can also download it from there. The first six minutes of the mooshikavahan track plays this pushpanjali song. Enjoy!!!

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1000th year Celebration of Brihadeeshwara Temple

September 27th, 2010 by Anjali


The Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavor was built by the Raja Raja Chola in 1010 AD. It is known for its brilliant architecture since the structure is the world’s first complete granite Temple. This oldest Shiva Temple is now a Unesco Heritage site.

On the dusk of 25th September 2010, 1000 Bharatanatyam dancers performed together on the stone platform inside the Brihadeeshwara temple to mark its 1000th year.  Do watch this grand event by visiting the link. It would be available only for the next 30days.

Here is the direct link.

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Eye Movements or Drishthi Bheda

June 25th, 2010 by Anjali

Drishthi in sanskrit meaning “Vision”. In relation to our eyes it means “sight” or “to see”. The classification of these eye movements are based on how we move the eye balls. Infact we use each of them in our every day routine. Just a matter of identifying with their names. There are eight types of Eye movements given in the shastras:

1. Sama:  Eye kept still without any movement.

2. Alokita: Rolling your eye balls in a circular pattern.

3. Saachi: Looking through the corner of the eyes.

4. Pralokita: moving your eyes side to side.

5. Nimilita:  It looks like a half shut eye. Here one tries to focus the eye ball towards the heart.

6. Ullokita: Looking upwards.

7. Anuvritta: Rapid movement of the eyes up and down.

8. Avalokita: Looking down.

Shloka :

Samam Alokitam Saachi pralokita Nimility
Ullokita-anuvritte cha tatha chaiva-avalokitam
Ithyashtho drishthi bhedaha syu kirtitah purvasuribhi

The following video should demonstrate how each of these eye movements are done.

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