Spiritual significance of the Dance of Kali
In the Shaivite tradition, Lord Shiva represents the timeless, unchanging reality upon which Goddess Kali, symbolizing time itself, dances. This dance serves as a metaphor for the constant interplay between creation and destruction, the ebb and flow of existence. Kali's dance upon the eternal consciousness of Shiva embodies the cyclical nature of the cosmos, where all things come to be and ultimately dissolve.
Performance of Dance of Kali
Central to the performance is the dancer's prop, a khanra, a curved sword specific to the Bengali culture. Gripping the khanra firmly in their right hand, the dancer embodies the embodiment of Kali's might and her role as the destroyer of evil forces. Accompanying the dancer is another performer who assumes the role of Mahadeva, also known as Lord Shiva, dressed in the garb of a sannyasi, a renunciate.
The dance unfolds with the entrance of Mahadeva, who lies prostrate on the ground, representing the eternal primeval consciousness of the universe. As Kali enters the stage, she takes several rounds of the arena before placing her foot on Mahadeva's chest, symbolizing her dominion over time and the cycle of creation and destruction. In this posture, she performs a series of simple yet rapid dance gestures, before breaking away from Mahadeva and unleashing a vigorous and mesmerizing dance, twirling across the stage with breathtaking energy.
The Dance of Kali intensifies as the performance progresses. The rhythm becomes turbulent, mirroring the chaos and dynamism of the universe. The dancer's movements evolve into the captivating Tandava dance, representing the cosmic dance of creation, preservation, and dissolution. Throughout this intense display, the khanra sways with fervor, further accentuating the dancer's portrayal of Kali's wrathful form.
Make-up and Costume
One of the striking aspects of this dance is the grotesque makeup worn by the performers. The dancer adorns a blue-painted mask, which accentuates the sclera, the white portion of the eye. The face is adorned with copious amounts of red paint, symbolizing the flow of blood from the sides of the mouth, cascading down to the chin. This vivid imagery serves to highlight the ferocity and raw power associated with the goddess.
Revered as Kali Nach in Bengal, this dance form reverently pays homage to Goddess Kali in her most aggressive manifestation. The dancer dons a black mask, prominently displaying the goddess's blood-red tongue. In one hand, the dancer wields a falchion, while in the other, they carry a human skull. Drums form an integral part of the performance, heightening the dramatic impact of the dance.
The Dance of Kali stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Bengal and the profound spiritual traditions within Hinduism. It is a captivating spectacle that encapsulates the divine power, cosmic energy, and intricate interplay between time and consciousness. As spectators witness this mesmerizing performance, they are transported into a realm where the ancient mythologies come alive, reminding us of the eternal dance of creation and destruction that shapes the existing universe.
|More Articles in Folk Dances of West Bengal (19)|