Reshma Govind
Recently I stumbled upon this you tube video which talks about the meaning of the word Arangettam (‘Arangettram’)Arangettam??? - different views

I started thinking whether I made a mistake by choosing this title for my very first post (I like to dream that people from all parts of world are reading it ;)…of course there is no harm in dreaming...) Most of the people who doesn’t know the word seem to imagine it as some type of spider or insect or eight legged animal(quite absurd!). All these doubts and this video took me to my beautiful childhood days. I had the privilege to learn dance from a young age since my house is near to the famous Kerala Kalamandalam. It follows the old Gurukul method. I couldn’t attend this system, but was lucky enough to learn dance from very good teachers who graduated from Kalamandalam. In the initial years we study about the different mudras, bhavas (rasa), adavus (basic steps). Once we attain some level of perfection in all these areas, we go ahead and start learning beautiful compositions. After years of study, once the Guru (teacher) feels his/her student is capable of performing for long hours in front of a big audience we get to do our Arangettam. It is the solo debut performance where he/she gets to showcase her talent in front of a big audience for the first time displaying all that she has learned all these years.

I was very lucky to have my Arangettam done at the famous Guruvayoor temple. It’s always very difficult to get bookings there and might take one year to get a slot for one group. We finally got it in April of 1997 and all the students learning under my Guru (teacher), ready for Arangettam, were selected and each allocated with 2/3 performances. I had two performances in BharataNatyam and one in Mohiniyattom. We got to select our costumes and jewellery. I got two beautiful dresses one in yellow with maroon border and one in peacock blue color. Friends and relatives of the young 'dancers' came and every one was busy with one or another - Rehearsals, Make up, arrangements (full of excitement!!!)…That’s when we realized that some other dance group is also given almost same time slot as ours. A big argument started between the two groups. Both the groups had so many students anxiously waiting for their performance in front of a very big audience for the first time.Finally both agreed to cut down on some of their performances. Since I had 3, one was removed from my list (there goes my peacock blue dress!). Still I was happy that I got to wear two different types of attires. ( Mohiniyattom has the most enchanting , beautiful dress according to me...).

After a lot of commotions our dance program started and I finished one of mine (Mohiniyattom) and started getting ready for the next. There was a beautiful spirit and innocence between children as they were helping each other with make up, dress and other things where as some of the elders were pushing their kids to first finish their own make up before helping out others(Guru is busy on stage and back stage is always full of commotion!). My second dance was the last in our program list. Finally when my turn came conflicts started between the two groups again and they decided to start off theirs right then. I was shocked and sad to learn that I won’t be able to perform this one also. On the stage, behind the curtains a big fight ensued between the parents and others. Both sides were not ready to give up at all. I was standing in a corner helpless (all made up and ready!). Finally it seemed to go no where and I couldn’t control myself and started crying (What else can a 14 yr old do?). Some body in the other group saw me crying in one corner in full make up and finally decided to give up and let me do it !(Tears have great powers :D). So after a dramatic stage fight and tears, I finally got to perform my dance with my worn out make up in front of Lord Sri Krishna.

But I stopped dance soon after, as I was going to 10th std (Yes, you are supposed to concentrate for board exams without any other distractions…!!). That was the biggest mistake I ever did. I didn’t get a chance to perform on any other stages there after and that was the end of my classical dance life. If there is another life, I would love to learn classical dance and music as they are precious knowledge one can ever get in their life. According to me, blessed are those who get to learn and perform a lot in the field of Indian classical dance and classical music…..

7 Responses
  1. Sunitha Says:

    hmm nice on.. I know how much u like dance and music.Also how difficult to get booking.... :)

  2. manumaan Says:

    teachers who "passed out" of Kalamandalam... haha..

    I have heard of this event.It was titled in news paper as "crowd tries in vain to block an awful dance performance" buhahaha

  3. Resh Says:

    sunu...thnks di...ya i love it a lot ..

    manu...njan change cheythu tto...thnks for pointing out:)

  4. After reading this incident, I had a strange thought.
    I believe the reason why you were not stopped dancing was because you had stopped at two performances that day. If you had done all three that day, you could have given numerous performances by now.
    Whatever happens once may not happen again.
    Whatever happens twice will not happen again.
    But whatever happens thrice will most certainly happen many more times!

    pilochappy anu!

  5. Resh Says:

    oh ...thts a new knowledge...ithanalle..ellam onnamathe pravashyam nadannillengi, third chancil sheriyavum ennu parayane?..hmmm:(

  6. ammu Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. divs Says:

    reshu chechi......tnks for remindin abt our was so much of a tragedy then bt thinkin abt al that melodramas nw is makin me laugh......its so funny......nywys thnks for nt uploadin any of our snaps!!!!nobody can recognize us tho......thnks to our make up man!lol:D....gud work...njoyd reading..:)