Author: Megha Shrinivas, Bengaluru
‘Dhanur maasa’ is a very special and auspicious month for the worship of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. We get to hear the sacred bells ringing and holy hymns being chanted even before the sun wakes up. The temples are flooded with devotees who come from all over to pay their obeisance to the Divine.
The Channakeshava Temple at Belur, which is a 12th century marvel celebrates ‘Kotarotsava‘ during the Dhanur maasa in full glory and it is the month long cultural events that make this temple all the more vibrant and so full of energy. The tradition of this temple is to have artistes perform for Lord Channakeshava every evening between 6pm and 8.30pm.
This year it was my divine fortune to offer Nruthya Seva to the lord. What is so special about the seva is the fact that the artiste directly faces the idol and performs in the ‘Navaranga” which is situated right in front of the garbhagudi. The spectators gather in a circle around the artiste only after allowing the artiste a generous darshan of god since its forbidden for anyone to come in between the lord and the artiste. Feels like a private meeting between the Lord and artiste. Spectacular isn’t it?
I would like to share my experiences of the performance at the Belur temple during the Kotarotsav 2018.
More often that not, it so happens that we go from far off places to pay our pranaams to deities at different pilgrims but what was supposed to be a calm and peaceful darshan, turns out to be chaotic one and gets reduced to a mere glimpse of the deity owing to the large crowds that gather during special occasions like this one.
Nevertheless, not everyone is as blessed as I am, for I not only got to have the lord’s darshan in peace but also had the Lord himself watch my dance with undivided and undisturbed attention. What more can an artiste ask for? The ‘Navaranga” which had been purified by great souls like Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa, Vaikunthadasa, Shreemadwadiraja, Natyarani Shantala, had now invited me to dance on her!!
I performed 3 dance items in the Bharatnritya form which included, an ‘Antahpura Geethe’ of Dr. D.V. Gundappa, a Krithi on goddess Soumya Nayaki who resides in the same temple, composed by Ganakalabhushan Vid. R. K. Padmanabha and finally a devaranama on Lord Krishna composed by Saint Vadiraja. After having read and heard so much about the devadasis who performed exclusively for the lord, I truly felt like a devadasi offering the tradional rangabhoga to lord Channakeshava.
The most heart stirring moment was when the purohit gave me the offerings made by the devotees as Bhiksha at the feet of lord Channakeshava! It was an inexplicable feeling that was beyond my mind’s comprehension and silent tears of joy ran down my cheeks and a choking throat!
I would like to conclude by saying that temples had always been a big treasure house of traditions values and cultural upbringing and it still does and will continue to do so for years to come.