Friday, June 20, 2008

Charya Nritya

My Newari dance teacher called yesterday (see photo). We're going to re-start my long-delayed Newari Charya Nritya classes. Since we don't have a proper dance studio (with wooden floor and mirror), we'll be using the rooftop terrace of the Guest House. I hope they don't mind (people use it for yoga).

We have to start around 9am, because later it will be too hot.

Newari Charya Nritya is one of the last Buddhist devotional dances in the world, and possibly the last that is still being performed in situ as part of the traditional pujas.

Kandyan (Sri Lankan) Buddhist dance, like Indian Bharatanatyam has become a theatrical form and is no longer performed in the Buddhist temples. Tibetan Chham Dance must be performed only by ordained monks. Thai classical dance, as far as I know, portrays stories that are actually Hindu (despite the fact that Thailand is Buddhist). I think the same is true for Cambodia.

Probably only a few dozen Newar people in the Valley still know how to dance Charya. With its tribhangi posture and lyrical mudras, it most closely resembles Odissi.

Charya is sometimes confused with the more widely publicised masked dances of the Kathmandu Valley, as seen in so many colourful travelogues. Unlike them, Charya is a liturgical dance that is still performed by the Newari Buddhist priesthood.

I began Charya lessons two years ago with Raju, and learned only the opening item Refuge Prayer. Now I will begin the Sodasa Lasya item (which means something like "Sixteen Graces").

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1 comment:

Madhukar said...

Welcome back, that was long break what happened?