Chidambaram Dance Festival

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Chidambaram Dance Festival

***** Location: India, Tamizh Nadu
***** Season: Early Spring
***** Category: Observance


The holy city of Chidambaram, known as the 'city of the Cosmic Dancer', is situated about 245 km from Chennai. Chidambaram is famous for its ancient Nataraja temple, which has a bronze image of Nataraja in dancing form - known as the most perfect synthesis in metal art.

The Natyanjali festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is held every year during February-March in the temple premises. It begins on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri and lasts for five days. During this time leading dancers from all parts of the country congregate and dance in the temple to pay their tribute to Lord Nataraja.

Natyanjali festival is jointly organised by The Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, The Ministry Of Tourism, Government of India and The Natyanjali Trust, Chidambaram. Its motto is to spread the message of Unity in Diversity.

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Natarajar Temple at Chidambaram

Chidambaram is one of the most ancient and most celebrated of shrines in India. It is of great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. Chidambaram is associated with Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose (the Cosmic Dance of bliss) in the cosmic golden hall and the hall of consciousness (Chit Sabha). Shiva is also worshipped in the "formless form" of the Chidambara Rahasyam, while the temple is known for its Akasa Lingam, an embodiment of Shiva as the formless Space. The word "Koyil" or temple in the Tamil Saivite tradition refers to none other than the Chidambaram Nataraja temple.

The origins of this vast temple are buried in antiquity. Literature talks of a tradition of Shiva (Nataraja) worship in existence even as early as the Sangam period (very early on in the Christian era), and the Tamil Saints have sung its fame when an established worship tradition was in place. The later Chola Kings (Aditya I and Parantaka I) adorned the roof of the shrine with gold, and the other Chola Kings treated Nataraja as their guardian deity and made several endowments to the temple as temple inscriptions testify.

The Pandya Kings who followed them, and the later Vijayanagar rulers made several endowments to the temple. There is a stone image of Krishnadevaraya in the North Gopura which he is said to have erected. In the wars of the 18th century, this temple was used as a fort, especially when the British General Sir Eyre Coote unsuccesfully tried to capture it from the Mysore Kings. During this period, the images of Nataraja and Sivakamasundari were housed in the Tiruvarur Tyagaraja temple for safety.

Legends associated with this temple:

Aadi Sesha, the serpent (couch) of Vishnu, heard from Vishnu the grandeur of Shiva's cosmic dance. Filled with irrepressable desire to witness this dance in person at Chidambaram, Seshan descended to the earth as Patanjali (the one who descended). Vyagrapaadar, another devotee of Shiva prayed to obtain the tiger's claws so that he could obtain with ease the sacred Vilva leaves meant for Shiva's worship at Chidambaram. At the appointed hour, Shiva (with Sivakami) granted to Patanjali and Vyagrapaadar, a visual treat in the form of his Cosmic Dance of Bliss, to the accompaniments of music played by several divine personalities in the Hindu pantheon. This Dance of Bliss is said to have been witnessed by Vishnu, and there is a Govindaraja shrine in the Natarajar temple commemorating this. The dance of bliss of Shiva, is also said to have been enacted upon Shiva's (Bhikshatana) victory over the married ascetics of Daruka Vanam.

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Shiva thaandavam
aananda natanamadbutham
paramam padam
[ Sanskrit ]

Shiva's Cosmic Dance
the Dance of Delight Wonderful
the Supreme State

... ... ...

shruthi vibhooshitam
Rudra Sadaashivam
[ Sanskrit]

dance cosmoses of signs
decorated with the scriptures eternal
Rudra Sadaashiva

"anganyaasam" ~ Elucidations with the body parts !
"Rudra" ~ The Supremely Wrathful One. There are Elevan Rudras who had manifested closing with Rudra Aanjaneya [ Hanuman]
Saddaa-Shiva ~ Eternally Auspicious One

... ... ...

vellam adichutte
aadunno ? niey-endaru
sadaa shivanaa?
[Malayalam ~ South kerala lingo ]

piss drunk you are
dancing ? What are you
sadaashiva eh ?

SadaaShiva ~ Eternally Auspicious Lord ~

Narayanan Raghunathan, India

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1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...


Shiva's dance
annihilation celebrates
nascent creation

Dr. Vidur Jyoti, India