Natyanjali – A Spiritual and Artistic Experience

The Natyanjali Dance Festival is a grand celebration of culture and divinity which invokes the almighty Lord Shiva. The dance festival brings together classical Indian dancers from all parts of the world. Every classical Indian dance form, including Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Mohini Attam, Kathak and Odissi, is represented here in this marvellous display of devotion to Lord Shiva.

Where is the dance festival conducted?

The Natyanjali Dance Festival is held in the temple town of Chidambaram, near Chennai. Started way back in 1981, the festival is organized by the Department of Tourism of Tamil Nadu and the Natyanjali Trust. It is held in the temple premises to pay respects to the presiding deity of the temple – Lord Shiva. The idol of the god in the temple is in the ‘Ananda Tandava’ pose, or the ‘Dance of Bliss’. This form of Lord Shiva is significant to the festival as all the dancers dedicate their ‘natya’, or dance, to show their ‘anjali’, or devotional and spiritual offering, to the god.

When is the dance festival conducted?

The 5-day dance festival is conducted during the Hindu festival of Maha Shivratri, which generally falls in the months of February or March. The day at the Natyanjali Dance Festival starts in the evening as all the programs begin only after 05:30 PM. The festival sees approximately 300-400 performers and their accompanying artists. Each day, dancers from different classical schools perform in front of an entranced audience.

What else can you do at the dance festival?

While in town for the festival, you must visit the Chidambaram temple. This ancient temple, dating back to the 12th century, is one of the five ‘pancha bhootha’ temples, the other four being at Kalahasthi, Kanchipuram, Tiruvanaikkaval and Tiruvannamalai. There is an exquisite golden roof which has 21,600 tiles inscribed with ‘Sivayanama’. Tourists come from across the country and the world to visit this temple, and many of them opt to stay over in Chennai before moving on to Chidambaram. Chennai is also known for its various temples like the Mylapore temple and the nearby Mahabalipuram temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site), with hotels in Chennai usually guiding tourists to them.

A devotee or a connoisseur of the arts, whatever your calling might be, the Natyanjali Dance Festival is a treat to all! 

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