Varnam in Bharatanatyam- A traditional approach

The treatises refer to the term ‘varnam’ as a mode of singing—gana kriya. Technical works have formalised this mode of singing into four types—sthayi, arohi, avarohi and sanchari. The term denotes the modes of singing by assembling the notes or swaras, a methodology that is still followed. Poet Kalidasa also refers in some of his plays to the term as a mode of singing. Hence it could be defined as a musical practice which describes the delineation of a particular melody or raga. The traditional varnam occupies the central place in Bharatanatyam and is as important as the head for the human body. It is the mainstay of the performance through which a dancer’s stamina and skill are adjudged.