CALENDER-APR-2020

MARGAMKALI

Margamkali is an ancient Indian round dance of the St. Thomas Christian community based in Kerala state, mainly practiced by the endogamous sub-sect known as the Knanaya or Southist Christians. The dance retells the life and missionary work of St. Thomas the Apostle, based on the third century apocryphal Acts of Thomas.
 
"Margam" means path or way or solution in Malayalam, but in the religious context, it is known as the path to attain salvation.  Much of this folk art is woven around the mission of St. Thomas, the Apostle. The original Margam Kali describes the arrival of St. Thomas in Malabar, the miracles he performed, the friendship as well as the hostility of the people among whom he worked, the persecution he suffered, the churches and crosses he put up in various places, etc. These details are incorporated in the various stanzas of the Margam Kali songs. Kerala's Margam Kali is an important element in the age-old and hallowed tradition of St Thomas among the Syrian Christians of Malabar Coast.
 
Typically, a dozen dancers sing and dance clapping around a Nilavilakku wearing the traditional white dhoti ("mundu") and blouse ("chatta"). The lamp represents Christ and the performers his disciples. The performance is usually held in two parts ("padham") and begins with songs and dances narrating the life of Saint Thomas, the apostle. It then takes a striking turn with a martial play of artificial swords and shields. Margamkali does not use any instruments other than the two small palm size cymbals played by the person who sings the song. It was originally played by men and afterwards by boys, but nowadays women also perform the dance.
 
 
 

BIHU DANCE

The Bihu dance is an indigenous folk dance from the Indian state of Assam related to the Bihu festival and is an important part of Assamese culture. Performed in a group, the Bihu dancers are usually young men and women, and the dancing style is characterised by brisk steps, and rapid hand movements. The traditional costume of dancers is colorful and centered around the red colour theme, signifying joy and vigour.
 
The dance begins with the performers, young men and women, slowly walking into the performance space. The men then start playing musical instruments, like drums (particularly the double-headed dhol), horn-pipes and flutes, while the women place their hands above their hips with the palms facing outwards, forming an inverted triangular shape. The women then start to slowly move in tune with the music by swaying, while bending slightly forward from the waist. Gradually, they open up the shoulders and place their legs slightly apart, adopting the main posture used in the Bihu dance. Meanwhile, both the music played by the men and the dance by the women pick up in tempo.
 
The earliest depiction of Bihu dances comes from the 9th century sculptures found in the Tezpur and Darrang districts of Assam. The first official endorsement is cited to be when Ahom king Rudra Singha invited Bihu dancers to perform at the Ranghar fields around 1694 on the occasion of Rongali Bihu.