By Nimal Raj
Increasingly, the Creative Arts are used to demonstrate the urgent ecological issues and environmental inequality to a wider audience. SMC believes in this vision and is pleased to present a novel approach using the ancient Indian art form to address climate change.
Drawing parallels with Hindu Puranic stories, Prithvi (Earth in Sanskrit) is the story of mankind today, and how we have plundered our Mother Earth with unsustainable development. Prithvi uses the analogy of Bharatanatyam dance to reflect our current climate crisis, reminding us of the need to love and care for the environment.
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
The Arts have a unique capacity to raise awareness, build bigger constituencies for social justice and meet people where they are. As the arts are participatory, engaging affected communities directly by advocating for themselves, this story on climate change took the form of a Bharatanatyam dance drama.
Drawing parallels with Hindu Puranic stories, Prithvi (Earth in Sanskrit) is the story of mankind today, and how we have plundered our Mother Earth with unsustainable development.
The dance begins with the antagonist, Manu, who, forgetting that he is born out of the earth, becomes selfish and conceited by destroying mother nature in the name of development to fulfil his monetary greed.
Deforestation has also caused the loss of habitats for our land animals and sea creatures. He continues to destroy the other inhabitants of this planet, causing further turmoil on both land and sea.
Midway through the dance, he meets a mystical lady, Prithvi, who takes him on a reflective journey to show his follies from his previous births. His previous life emerged as the evil Hiiranyaksha, He is subsequently vanquished by the Lord Varaha, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu.
He is given a chance of redemption and is reborn as Nara, Time and again, he is filled with arrogance and conceit until he is transformed into a demon called Narakasura.
Once again Divinity incarnates as Krishna and Satyabhama to defeat Narakasura. Manu is reminded by Prithvi that she has lovingly nurtured mankind, but we have become selfish and disregarded her.
Concept, Music Composition & Choreography: Nimal Raj
Performers: Nimal Raj, Kavitta Tamilselvam, Keethanjali Subramanian, Rhivakshini Premaraj, Jasmen Jewa & Dakshayani Chandramohan
Musicians: Nattuvangam; Nimal Raj, Uttara Devi Balusamy
Vocal: Nimal Raj, Nandakumar Unnikrishnan& Krishna Kannan
Vedic Recitation: Suraj Kumar Balusamy
Mridangam: Shri Thamarakudyi K.R. Vijayakumar
Ganjira & Daamaru: Suraj Kumar Balusamy
Tabla: Meenalochani Shunmugam
Flute: Sridhar Gopalaraman
Violin: Sheshadri Sriram, Veena; Bhawani Nima Raj, Sriidevi Segran & Dipadarshini Yuvabalan
Piano: Divya Balakumar & Dharshini Shankar
*This video has been originally produced as part of the ‘PANAS! Climate Change Stories in Malaysia’ project organised by Science Media Centre (SMC) Malaysia, in collaboration with British High Commission Kuala Lumpur and EcoKnights. It was published on 3 June 2021 in Weekly Echo. Link here: https://www.weekly-echo.com/telling-the-climate-story-with-bharata-natyam/
**Read more about PANAS! here: https://sciencemediacentremalaysia.com/panasclimatechangestories/
Nimal Raj is a Conceptualiser, Composer and Choreographer who has worked with renowned Malaysian dancers. As a minimalist vegan, he is an inspiration to his peers and students through his unwavering love and devotion to art, continuing to create relevance of ancient art forms in today’s world. Currently, Nimal is pursuing the Master of Dance Postgraduate Degree at the University of Malaya, hoping to raise social awareness through his artistic offerings.