Mohiniattam was performed for the first time to an Annamayya kriti.
NEW COMBO Gopika Verma gives an enchanting performance.
For the first time ever, two disparate entities were presented on the same stage. The traditional dance form of Kerala, Mohiniattam, was performed to a Telugu kriti composed by the saint-poet, Annamayya. Noted danseuse, Gopika Verma gave her maiden Mohiniattam performance in Tirupati at the Mahati auditorium, which was organised by the Dharma Prachara Parishat.
The focus of the concert was heavy on the compositions of the king Kulasekhara of the Travancore dynasty, who abdicated his throne to become an ardent devotee of lord Vishnu. He later became famous as Kulasekhara Alwar and joined the band of 12 saints who composed 4,000 pasurams (hymns) among them on the various incarnations of the lord. Interestingly, Gopika Verma is married into the same Travancore royal family.
The concert began with the Dasavatharam rendered by Maharaja Swati Tirunal in Ragamalika form, which is considered a magnum opus. In the number that lasted for an hour, Gopika elaborately portrayed the essence of the ten incarnations of lord Vishnu, giving due importance to the smallest of details pertaining to that avatar.
It was followed by Paluku Thenela Thalli Pavalinchunu, a mellifluous kriti by Annamacharya on goddess Padmavathi. It explains how the goddess is still fast asleep after serving the lord throughout the night, blissfully unaware of the fact that he had already woken up to the Suprabhatham chanted by the devotees.
The romantic number ends with Annamayya describing how she continues to sleep, cuddled in his warmth. This is the first ever kriti by Annamayya to be performed in the Mohiniattam form. The new combination worked out well. In fact, this kriti was choreographed by Gopika in Mohiniattam exclusively for the Tirupati concert.
The best part of the show was the pasuram by Kulasekhara Alwar describing the divine grace of lord Venkateswara. Mythology has it that Kulasekhara became the threshold at the entrance near the sanctum sanctorum of the Tirumala temple, which is still referred to as Kulasekhara padi. Gopika narrated how the king, after giving up power and kingdom, pleaded to the lord to make him the threshold in front of him so that he could stay close to the lord and watch the beauty of his coral lips (pavazha vaai), even as the devotees step on him and reach out to his holy feet. The concert came to a grand close with Harivaraasanam, a famous song on Ayyappa.
Gopika Verma was given excellent support by Rajesh (vocal), Sudhaman (mridangam), Preeti (nattuvangam), Nagaraju (violin), Natarajan (flute) and Suresh Kumar (eddika - a traditional instrument used for this dance form).
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