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SriRangaNrityam - readapted dance form of the Arraiyars of Srirangam

From: Shreyas Sarangan (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 17:59:54 PDT

Sri Ranganayaki Sametha Sri Ranganatha Parabrahmane
Srimathe Ramanujaya Namaha

SriRangaNrityam - readapted dance form of the
Arraiyars of Srirangam
(to be held Oct. 13, 2001 at the Livermoore Temple,CA)

The "Arraiyar Sevai", a visual enactment of the
passionate expression of  Bhakti by the Azhwars, is
a kind of worship of the Lord Sriman Narayana through
dance for divine music called deva ganam, and is 
performed solely by temple priests called  Arraiyars,
in the privacy of the inner sanctum for the exclusive
pleasure of the Lord alone. Such dances are not even 
watched by devotees in the temple, as they are part of
the private rituals of the daily "seva" of the Lord.
This tradition of the dramatic rendering of the poetry
of the Tamil Veda through music and dance is only passed
on to the sons in the 'Arraiyar' family - decendents of
the well known Saint, Sri Nathamuni of Kattu mannar. 

According to Koil Ozhugu, Thirumangai Azhwar started
the practice of presenting before the Lord of
Srirangam, his work known as "Thirunedunthantakam"
to the accompaniment of music and dance. But 
it was Sri Nathamuni who instituted the art in its
present form in temples in the Tamil month of
"Margazhi", during the "Thiruvadhyayana Uthsavam". 

Shri Ramanuja was also known for promoting the 
arraiyar's dance behind closed doors for the recreation
of the Lord and he was further instrumental in 
nurturing this form of worship at the Srirangam Temple.  

Smt. Usha Narayan, a distinguished exponent of the
Pandanallur style of Bharata Natyam is a well-known
choreographer and teacher, has dedicated a large part
of her dancing career to the research into Arrayar
sevai tradition and its readaptation and performance
in the Divya sthalas and on stage. Her main aim
besides enjoying dancing the Divya prabandham is that 
of taking the message of the greatness of this form
existing at the SriRangam temple. All this was done
only after a thorough study of the Natya Shastra and
other texts for finding the origin of this dance form
and placing this dance style.

In the strong foundational Bharathnatyam style she
received senior expert training (in the various
elements of Bharathnatyam), under the likes of
Pandanallur Guru Nana Kasar, Guru Swarna Saraswati,
Kalanidhi Narayanan and Guru Kittappa Pillai since

A recipient of Sahitya Kala Parishad Certificate of
Eminence and Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship, she has
been active in the cultural framework of New Delhi for
over 20 years now. Presently she has been awarded the
Senior Research fellowship for classifying this dance

After thorough research, with the guidance and
blessings of Sri Rangam Arrayars, Shri Vaak Amrita
Varshi Velukkudi swami, Shri Annangarachar swami,
Mudaliandan swami, Vanamamalai Jeer and Muna Swamigal,
Smt. Usha has adapted the elements of Arraiyar Sevai
for the stage which she calls it the Sriranga Nrityam.

As 'Arrayar' IS A TITLE and not a name of a dance form
she prefers to name it as the dance form mentioned as
per the Natya shastra. Secondly she does not wear the
head gear of the Arrayars as it is the cymbol of their
crown like a king and none other than decendants have
the right to that crown.However she has widened the
scope of the dance form and the dancing of the Divya
Prabandham based on the tenets of Sringa nrittyam as
mentioned in the Natya shastra. Her research work in
the rare dance form 'Arraiyar Sevai', has been
acclaimed and even featured on the cover of Limca Book
of Records (1980). She has performed all over India,
giving performances and educative workshops in various
parts of the country. She has about twenty troupe
productions to her credit. Smt. Usha has also actively
contributed to the implementation of Performing Arts
as part of the structured curricula at the school

Smt.Usha and her troupe of dancers, all dressed in
dhotis and angavastras, will be presenting this rare
art at the Shiva-Vishnu Temple in Livermore CA as a
fund raiser on October 13th, 2001. 

This recital by her troupe of senior disciples will
highlight some of the differences between Sriranga
Nrityam and the Bharata Natyam style. The performance
is meant to introduce the Bay Area to the basic
elements and delightful nuances of this mystic dance
form dedicated to Emperumaan.

Smt. Usha is dedicating this performance to the memory of
Shri Nathamuni Arraiyar of Sri Rangam who has recently 
left us at a loss on his way to the abode of Shri Vaikunta.  
For further information visit:
or email
Nathamuni thiruvadigale sharanam

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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