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Individual Issues

Dance Costumes - Padmalochani
Issue : 250
Published on : July, 2005



3 Sruti Box

7 News & Notes

15 Tribute

19 Heritage Landmarks In Music

27 Special Feature

41 Main Feature

57 A Series For The Younger Generation

59 The Book Shelf

61 The Record Rack

64 Editor's Note

Front Cover: Girija Devi (Photo by Avinash Pasricha)
                  Padmalochani (Courtesy: Dr. Arundra)

Special Feature
Some Dance Costumes: Past & Present

From time immemorial, the wearing of new clothes, for both men and women, young and old, on festival days has been mandatory. For a dancer, the arangetram—debut dance recital, is a festive occasion to be cherished throughout her life. What sort of costume should be worn on that day? What was the old custom? For an answer we may begin with the rangapravesam of Kadur Venkatalakshamma at the age of 13, in 1919 at Mysore.

It is customary that no article of clothing of the debutants should have been used before. Venkatalakshamma was dressed in a new pair of pyjamas over which was tied a new nine-yards saree. Since she, like other dance aspirants, had practised dancing wrapped in nine-yard cotton sarees all along, she was not intimidated by the length of the garment. The saree was kalapattu or kinkappu quality silk with gold lace work. The pallu of the saree was gathered and tucked in front, prominently displaying the zari work. Around her waist was a gold oddiyanam or waist-belt. Her plaited hair ended in a kucchu (kunkulam) and was decorated with appropriate jewels. Her neck was adorned with a kaassina sara (chain of gold coins or kaasu maalai) addiga (necklace) encrusted with precious stones and such other ornaments. These jewels were made of genuine rubies, diamonds, emeralds, pearls and gold. There was no suggestion of cheap glitter (Sruti 37/38, p. 22).

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Main Feature
Girija Devi

F or over a century now, the Benares Hall of Fame has read like the "Who's Who" of Hindustani music. The last addition to it is Girija Devi. Born in 1929, she is amongst the most distinguished vocalists of our times, and the reigning queen of the Benares tradition of thumri and allied genres. In a career spanning almost six decades, she has charmed three generations of Indian music lovers. In the 1990s, she started performing abroad, and acquired an enthusiastic following in Europe and North America.

Two Indian universities have conferred D. Litt. degrees on her. She has been decorated with the Sangeet Natak Akadcmi award (1978), and the Padma Shri (1973) and Padma Bhushan (1989). The Grand Dame of the thumri has served a long stint as a Guru at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata, and continues to guide students at the institution.

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A Series For Youngers
Stamp On Jnaneswar

Jnaneswar (also called Jnanadev and Dnyaneshwar) lived in the 13th century AD in Maharashtra. Jnaneswar and Namdeo were contemporaries. And it was the latter who has given us an authentic biography of Jnaneswar.

Stamp on Jnaneswar

The Dept. of Posts issued a stamp on Jnaneswar on 5 March 1997. (The Dept. followed the Marathi spelling Dnyaneshwar.) It is a multi-coloured stamp, in the denomination of Rs. 5; perf. 13; and printed on un-watermarked adhesive gravure coated stamp paper by photogravure process in India Security Press, Nasik.

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The Gokhale Hall, George Town

The Armenian Church stands at the corner of Armenian Street and NSC Bose Road, Madras 1. It was built in 1772 and was therefore in existence when most of the early Carnatic music greats such as Muthuswami Dikshitar, Tyagaraja and Subbaraya Sastry visited the city. The Armenian Street itself, called Aranmanaikaran Street in local parlance, was once the dancing girl quarter of erstwhile Black Town.

Tucked away in Armenian Street, in the same line as the Armenian Church, St. Mary's Co. Cathedral and the headquarters of Binny's, stands the stately building which houses the Young Men's Indian Association (YMIA). The Association owes its existence to Annie Besant, the Theosophist, social reformer and Indian nationalist. Notable among her contributions were the creation of the Central Hindu College at Benares, which later was to expand into the Banaras Hindu University; her involvement in the Scout Movement; and her sponsorship of the Indian Women's Association (IWA). She had also become the President of the Theosophical Society in Adyar in 1907 and since then Madras had become her home.

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