The Living Deities of the Bharatanatyam: A Photo & Audio Essay

In the city of Chennai, the images of deities carved in stone, moulded in bronze, adored in temples, are given life in dance and find their voice in song through the Bharatanatyam, the millennia-old classical dance of Tamil Nadu.

Lives and Times: Writing on the World Around Us, visited Chennai’s schools of music, or Sabahs, which every summer open their doors to the public in the largest music festival of the subcontinent. Here in the Sabhas, all the drama, comedy, romance, violence, and beauty of Hindu mythology comes alive in the Bharatanatyam.




A city of artists, Chennai holds the heritage of India’s Carnatic music. With the veena lute, mridangam drum, violin, flute, and ghatam pot-drum, these musical ensembles hypnotise their audiences and theirselves in this musical style dating back to the birth of Hinduism.

IMG_4456Above: The All Women’s Ensemble play at the 33rd Margazhi Mahotsav of Bharat Kalachar: Anjani Srinivasan- Veena; Rangapriya Sankaranarayanan – Violin; Poornima Krishna Emani – Flue; Aswini Srinivasan – Mridangam; Ramya – Ghatam

Above: The Naada Inbam Music Festival at the Raga Sudha Hall. Dr Jayanthi Kumaresh – Veena; R Shankaranarayanan – Mridangam; Trichy S.Krishna – Ghatam

In Chennai, where the noise of modern India flows through the streets, inside the sabhas you sink into a musical peace. Inside the sabhas, the Carnatic virtuosos bring soul to this city; the dancers of the Bharatanatyam give life to the gods.

Lives and Times.

Lives and Times is driven by curiosity for the peoples, landscapes, and arts of the world around us. Subscribe to receive new writing on travel and culture from around the  globe.

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