With the passing away of this renowned dancer this month, the world of Bharatanatyam has lost a legendary artist who blazed an unforgettable trail in her youth.
The name of Pandanallur, a temple town near Kumbakonam is synonymous with the most renowned Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai. Equally famous in her time and remembered as the darling of Pandanallur is the dancer JAYALAKSHMI who became a legend in the short time that she danced. A star at a young age when most dancers were in fact young girls, she gained a reputation unmatched in the history of Bharatanatyam. In her own words: "It all happened so fast that even I never imagined that I would be so famous and so popular." It was a dream run for the young girl, her talent shining with each performance, so much so that long after she stopped performing she was talked about as one who was "born to dance" and was blessed to bring fame and name to both her guru and her homestead....the village of Pandanallur. Today the temple of Pasupatheeswara stands tall. When she was an eight year old, Jayalakshmi had her arangetram on an auspicious day in this temple. The house of Guru Meenakshisundaram Pillai is still there in its modified form. So is the house of Jayalakshmi, with the walls adorned with portraits of her and the Rajah of Ramnad, her husband. A bygone era lingers only in memories. A visit to the temple and its beautiful precincts presided by Shiva the Lord of the dance makes us believers sensitive to a lost history.
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