(Last Updated on : 20/11/2013)
South India is full of various traditional and classical dances. Since the ancient period, various dance and music festivals and competitions had been organised. Some of them are discussed below:
Chennai Dance and Music Festival
Every year from the mid December to mid-January, the Chennai Dance and Music Festival is organised in Chennai. This is organised mainly to celebrate the classical music and dances of South India. Many renowned artistes from all over the state and the country participate in this festival. This takes place in many places of the Chennai city like in the auditoriums, well-known temple premises and heritage bungalows. This festival is well known as the 'Margazhi'.
In 1927, this festival of dance and music started for the first time to celebrate the anniversary of the Madras Music Academy. Several organisations, which used to organise art festivals in different parts of the city, then adopted it. According to the Hindus and South Indian classical music, the Tamil month of Margazhi is a sacred month and devotional in nature. Therefore, it has been a traditional form of worshipping in this month from time immemorial. Many Indian people leaving outside the country gather here in Chennai during the festival to attend it and take a glimpse of our rich cultural heritage. The performances of this festival include vocal and instrumental music, solo and group dance. The festival is a great platform for the upcoming artistes to display their talent.
Chidambaram Dance Festival
The Chidambaram Dance Festival is organised in the holy city of Chidambaram, which is situated about 245 km from Chennai. The dancing bronze image of Nataraja can be seen in the ancient Nataraja temple and Chidambaram is well known for this temple.
The Natyanjali festival of Chidambaram is dedicated to Lord Siva. Every year during the month of February or March, the dance festival is held in the temple premises. This festival runs for five days during the auspicious occasion of Maha Sivaratri. During the festival, top dancers from all over the country gather here to dance in the temple premise to pay their tribute to Lord Nataraja. The Department of Tourism and the Government of Tamil Nadu jointly organise this Natyanjali festival of Chidambaram.
Through this dance festival a universal message of 'Unity in Diversity' is promoted all over the world by the language of music and dance. According to many dancers, it is a blessing to be able to perform in this temple, the pillars of which are carved with the images Lord Nataraja in 108 poses of Bharatanatyam.
Mamallapuram Dance Festival
The Mamallapuram Dance Festival is organised every year from early January to the first week of February at the venue of Arjuna's Penance. Mamallapuram is a coastal town along the Coromandel. It is situated 58km away from Chennai. It used to be a port town during the rule of Pallavas. The town is famous for the rathas or monolithic temples and cave temples created by the Pallava rulers. Now, it is recognised as one of the World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
The Mamallapuram Dance Festival is organised by the Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu. The great performers of classical dances like Bharata-natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and Kathakali assemble here and present their dance in an open-air stage against the backdrop of the Pallava rock sculptures.
Nishigandhi Dance Festival
The Nishagandhi dance festival is organised in the Nishagandhi open-air theatre in the Kanakakunnu Palace compound. This dance festival is organised every year February 21st to 27th. The Tourism Development Corporation of the state organised the function and entry is free of cost.
The Kanakakunnu Palace is situated at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. It is located in the southernmost region of India. This palace used to stage many cultural meets and programmes.
In the Nishagandhi dance festival, famous dancers from all over India perform Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kathak, Odissi, modern ballet and other folk forms. Several artists and experts visit here to attend the festival. It gives a fascinating glimpse of India's rich dance heritage.
Pattadakkal Dance Festival
The Pattadakkal Dance Festival is organised every year to celebrate the temples of Pattadakkal. The Government of Karnataka organises the festival. Many well known dancers from all over the country come to perform in this festival. This Nrithyotsava is accompanied by a craft mela.
The village Pattadakkal is located 20 kms from Badami in Karnataka. It is situated on the left bank of the Malaprabha River. Pattadakkal is a World Heritage Centre and has 10 major temples representing both north and south Indian architectural traditions. Most of these temples are dedicated to Lord Siva. It used to be the second capital of the Chalukyan kings. Virupaksha and the Mallikarjuna temples are the largest temples of Pattadakkal.