Rituals of Durga Puja


Rituals of Durga Puja start from the day of Mahalaya and continue till Dashami. The rituals include Bodhon, Amantron, mangal ghat, bathing of Nabapatrika and so on. Sacrifices are also included in the rituals. Earlier there was animal and human sacrifice. Since the rule of Vaishnava Kings there has been no such sacrifice. Vegetables are sacrificed instead. The sacrifice of pumpkin was one of the most common substitutes. Sacrifice is basically casting away of one’s sins and faults.

Mantra has the power to accomplish what they say in the context of the Puja. Chanting of Mantras in a Puja is very efficacious. The power of mantra is associated with Puja and kriya. One can take refuge in God as Mother.

One finds the following prayer to Mother Durga in the Mahanarayana Upanishad (2.2): I take refuge in Her, the Goddess Durga, who is fiery in lustre and radiant with ardency, who is the Power belonging to the Supreme, who manifests Himself manifold, who is the Power residing in actions and their fruits, rendering them efficacious (or the Power that is supplicated to by the devotees for the fruition of their work). O Thou Goddess skilled in saving, Thou takest us across difficulties excellently well- Our salutations to Thee.”. She is duly worshipped in both aspects. One hymn praises Her benign Power, saying, “To Durga, the gracious and ever-benign, to the ever-auspicious One, the manifesto of all the worlds, I offer my respectful obeisance.” With words of humility and reverence, another hymn praises both aspects: “Obeisance to Thee, O Divine Mother, Durga, the benignant and yet terrific roaring. Thou art power, the dark night of destruction.” Both aspects, understood correctly, reveal Her benign redeeming grace. She destroys but to save. The vibrations give power. It is the sound that produces vibration. Mantra has the quality of a spell. People generally accept the action of the mantra when it is uttered by an ascetic. Mantras need to be pronounced correctly. Mantras contain the deity’s name in a particular object in which it is invoked.

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Dances of Kerala

Dances of Kerala include Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Thullal. Besides these, Theyyam, Koothu, Krishnanattom and Koottiyattam are also practiced in Kerala. The traditional dance forms mainly draw inspiration from the ancient texts and epics. Hence the subjects of these performances are episodes from various legends and myths of India.

Kathakali Dance
Kathakali is one of the most well known dance forms in Kerala. It would be more appropriate to term Kathakali as dance-drama. This form of art involves flamboyance and lot of toil. This form of dance involves a unique combination ballet, pantomime, opera and masque. Kathakali dancers dance with elaborately painted faces and embellished headgears. Great significance is laid upon the make-up or ‘Vesham’ which are essentially of five different types like Pacha, Kathi, Thadi, Kari and Minukka.

Mohiniyattam Dance
Mohiniattam is believed to be the dance of enchantress. Superficially Mohiniattam resembles the Tamil classical dance, Bharatnatyam, but it is less complex in its mime, and, in comparison, rustically vigorous and angular. It is a very ancient dance, originally practised by women of the Nambiar caste and associated with the temples; outside the sanctuary of the 12th-century temple at Trivikramangalam there are relief carvings of sacred dancers who are found to be performing an early type of Mohiniattam. This type of dance consists of some of the characteristics of Kuchipudi, Odissi and Bharatnatyam. Mohiniyattam dance is said to explain the story of a mythological character named Mohini and the dance steps are quite graceful. The songs sung while performing this dance is generally in Malayalam and Carnatic.

Thiruvathirakali Dance
Thiruvathirakali is performed by the womenfolk belonging to Hindu community. This is a beautiful group dance of Kerala and is done during festivals like the ‘Thiruvathira’ day as well as Onam. Dancers follow a circular form of movement while doing this dance and clap their dance.To know more read:


Orissa Dance Academy

Orissa Dance Academy organises persistent training classes both for Indian and foreign students to project and popularise Odissi Dance in the country and also abroad. A leading institution in Bhubaneswar, Orissa Dance Academy was founded in 1975 and strictly aims to foster Orissan art and cultural heritage through proper and rigorous training.

Orissa Dance Academy offers ample opportunities for the Odissi dancers to perform on stage. The academy has two sections, one for teaching and other for training. Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, the eminent Odissi Dance exponent and Sj. Dhirendra Nath Patnaik, the eminent scholar founded this institution. Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, who is one of the foremost exponents of Odissi Dance, at the tender age of six, received his training as Gotipua Dancer. After finishing his Natya Acharya in Odissi from Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya under proficient guidance of Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Dr. Minati Mishra and Guru Deb Prasad Das; he also received rigorous training from Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra. Apart from mastering the delicate nuances and the subtleties of Odissi dancing, he is also a maestro of Mardala player. He is also a recipient of the State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1993, the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998 and the prestigious Padmashree award from President of India in 2008.

This academy has made major contributions in projecting and popularising Odissi dance and music, as well as offering intensive training to artistes residing both in India and abroad. It maintains a close association with several cultural institutions in India and other foreign countries. Upholding a rich cultural heritage, the Orissa Dance Academy has moved ahead with its dignified and dynamic mission to hold many artistes into its cultural realm. Through its comprehensive activities, the Orissa Dance Academy aims at international cultural peace and accord.

The technique of learning adopted at Orissa Dance Academy is completely different from the usual method followed in most traditional dancing institutes in India. Based on the Gurukul Parampara of medieval India, the pupils in Orissa Dance Academy learn the art through perseverance, devotion, willpower and deep admiration for the teachers. Knowledge is thought to be a legacy that is handed over from generation to generation as priceless heirloom. The average training span is of ten years, with the program including both theoretical and practical on the technique of Odissi Dance. To know more read:



Indian Kathakali Dancers

Indian Kathakali dancers are the talented artists who have made Kathakali, a popular art in all across the globe. Kathakali is probably the oldest theatre forms in the world. It was originated in the state of Kerala and the Kathakali dancers perform a group presentation, in which they act upon various roles which are traditionally based on the themes from sacred Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

The Indian Kathakali dancers are experts in expressing the highly developed language of gesture, through which the artists usually convey the whole sentences and stories. The body movements and foot works of these dancers are very rigorous. However, the elaborate make up aids the dancers to a great extent in expressing their story. Apart from the facial make up, each Kathakali dancer wears a detailed costume, with a headdress and several layers of skirts, as well as heavy jewellery, anklets, bracelets and rings.

Popular Kathakali Dancers
Kathakali dancers in India are usually only men. Men dressed in women’s costume portray female characters. However, in recent years, women have also started to become Kathakali dancers. Following are the Popular Kathakali Dancers:

Kalamandalam Gopi: Gopi has been honoured with the esteemed Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. One of the most respected Kathakali dancers of the India is Kalamandalam Gopi, a student of the famous gurus like Padmanabhan Nair, Ramankutty Nair and Kumaran Nair. He had a celebrated career spanning over three decades, during which he has stood out in all main roles of Northern Kathakali style.

Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad: He excels in depicting both male as well as female characters. Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad is another famous Kathakali dancer. He was awarded with the M.A Vellody Medal at Kalamandalam for being the top student, in adding to receiving a number of other honours and awards.

Kottakkal Sivaraman: Kottakkal Sivaraman’s description was perfect. He captured the different emotions of Pingala as he travels from the depths of distresses to the heights of religious happiness. He displayed the emotions of a combination of nayika bhavas, like vasakasajjika and lasya nayika.

Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri: Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri has presented Kathakali Dance in a lot of stages all around India and overseas. His capability is in “Minukku” characters, but now performing “Pacha”, “Kathi”, “Thadi” characters also. He has also directed the Kathakali Sreekrishnaavatharam which is written by Nalloorpalli Vamanan Namboodiri and performed in lots of stages. Now he is working on “Kirathasoonucharitham” Kathakali. To know more read:


Clay Craft of West Bengal

West Bengal is famous for the craftsmanship of clay craft. The clay crafts of West Bengal have got its recognition because at the time of cultural refinement and progression, the craft got the Royal patronage and the artisans got the encouragement to develop this unique craft. The artisans create different items out of clay and to give the items a distinct style and luster a lot of techniques are followed by the artisans. The craftsmen involved in clay crafts usually follow two separate schools. One is the terracotta school in which the figurines are burnt to get the desired hardness and another is the school that does not follow the method of burning the clay items. This second process is more prevalent in Kumartulli and Krishnanagar in West Bengal.
The craft of pottery in West Bengal can be traced back to the Neolithic ages. Prehistoric archaeological evidence indicates a Neolithic stage of civilization in West Bengal. These have been largely collected from the districts on the border of Chota Nagpur and the Santhal Parganas that includes the regions of Bankura, Midnapore, Purulia, Birbhum and a part of Burdwan which has wedged itself in between Bankura and Birbhum (Asansol subdivision). This region is perhaps geologically, and also historically, oldest in Bengal.
In Bishnupur, Chaurigacha and Katalia and some other places in Midnapore and Bankura, perhaps the most primitive method of hand-modelled pottery is still pursued, and that almost exclusively by women. Moreover, in general, it has been observed that big jars are usually prepared by men, and comparatively small pots are made by women” (Saraswati and Behura). This is also largely true of West Bengal. To know more read:


Chakras in Sahaja Yoga Meditation

There are innumerous tiny vital life forces whirling through the body, which are concentrated into centers called ChakrasChakra is a Sanskrit term that means wheel. They are named as wheels as energies spin at these points, rotating clockwise with certain frequencies or vibration. This system has a resemblance with galaxy of planets, each spinning on its own axis. The seven main Chakras are located along the spinal cord and are energized and felt after Self-Realization. This Chakras control various parts and organs of our body. Each Cahkra is designed to maintain the perfect operation of the bodily system under its control.


The Chakras are responsible for the well being of the human body. So it is important to understand the functioning of each chakra and also the factors, which disturb Chakra balancing. Every thought and action influences the sensitivity and performance of these chakra centers. To start with Chakra balancing in Sahaja Yoga meditation, one has to eliminate the gross negativity. This might take time but the result will be felt from the beginning. Once, Self-realization is achieved and the charkas are cleared, the source of all this information will be available.


Each subtle center inside a human being has projections on different parts of the bodies. For example if one feeling a tingling sensation on the left middle finger then there is an imbalance in the left aspect of the third Chakra or the Nabhi Chakra. On the other hand a cool and light sensation on the right thumb means the right aspect of the second Chakra or the Swadhisthana Chakra is in a balanced state. Thus the knowledge of Chakras and the associated organs governed by the charkas help one to realize all the obstacles inside that bring imbalance in the subtle system. To know more read:



Genres of Indian Commercial Cinema

The genres of the mainstream Commercial Cinema in India comprises number of significant themes and subjects that find repeated expression. Romantic love stories, action and revenge thrillers, social drama and injustice, patriotism, comedy, friendships and male bonding, animation and horror, mythology and devotion are the genres of Indian commercial films. The themes incorporated in these different commercial genres reflect a distinctively culture-specific approach that is adopted to give these commercial films a characteristic Indian outlook. It is for these genres and their respective appeals that Indian Cinema cannot do without commercial movies that drive masses to the theatres.

Action Thriller Genre in Indian Commercial Cinema
The action and thriller genre are one of the most prominent genres of Indian commercial cinema, showcasing the typical idea of the hero fighting a group of bad men or the main villain, with stunt sequences and thrills that entertain the audience. Action films came largely into vogue in the 1970s and 80s with the rise of the concept of Angry Young Man initiated by megastar Amitabh Bachchan in the 1973 Hindi action drama ‘Zanjeer’. Bollywood actors, such as Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna and Bachchan himself were the popular action icons of the time.

Social Drama Genre in Indian Commercial Cinema
The social drama genre, also a prominent one in parallel cinema, figured prominently right from the beginning of Indian commercial cinema. What is commendable about the social dramas is the way the relevant and prevalent social issues are treated and candidly showcased for cinema. ‘Mother India’ (1957) is a classic film that portrayed the concept of Indian womanhood. Mani Ratnam’s ‘Bombay’ (1995) explores the highly sensitive issue about relations between Hindus and Muslims in India. He has also depicted human relationships against the background of Indian politics in films ‘Roja’ and ‘Dil Se.’

Patriotic Genre in Indian Commercial Cinema
Patriotism is a common emotion that binds India, a land of humongous religious and cultural diversity. From the inception there had been films that were made with national sentiments, mostly revolving around Indian freedom struggle and freedom fighters. Early patriotic films include ‘Kismet’, ‘Shaheed’, ‘Vigathakumaran’, ‘Balan’, ‘Kunjali Marakkar’ and ‘Purab Aur Paschim’. While films based on Indian freedom struggle continued to be produced, such as ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ and ‘23rd March, 1931: Shaheed’, the concept of patriotism evolved in the contemporary era and were interspersed with emotional ties, military wars, etc. Notable patriotic films of the 21st century include ‘Lagaan’, ‘Swades’ and ‘Lakshya’. To know more read: