Wednesday 16 December 2009

Mothers by daughters - Remembering Indrani: September 19, 1930 - February 5, 1999 - Sukanya Rahman

Indrani began to dance before she could walk. My mother made her stage debut at age five, performing the role of Maricha, the golden deer, in an episode of the Ramayana with her mother Ragini Devi and the dancer Gopinath.

For centuries the tradition of classical dance in India was passed down from mother to daughter through generations of dedicated devadasis or temple dancers, and nurtured in the sanctums of the great Hindu temples. This ancient art traced its origins to the rituals of the sacred Vedas, and its ancestry to the celestial exponents of the dance, the apsaras or heavenly nymphs and to the gods themselves.

Oddly, this dance tradition - which had fallen into decline and disrepute during British colonial rule - was helped out of obscurity and placed on the world stage by a daring young woman from the American Midwest. Born Esther Luella Sherman, in Petoskey Michigan in 1893, Esther was convinced she had been a Hindu in a previous incarnation and her mission in life was to dedicate her life to Indian dance. 

Read the article in the site