Kuchipudi: Bell Pooja Ceremony
As with many forms of Indian classical dance, Kuchipudi dancers each wear a string of bells around each ankle.
But once you receive your bells, you cannot simply put them on and continue dancing as you would a pair of ballet slippers, a pooja (or religious ceremony) must be performed first.
We came to class today bearing flowers, incense, fruit, sweets, and our bells. Our professor set a statue of the Lord Shiva (the Lord of Dance) on the table, for whom we would be performing the pooja. She proceeded to mark us all with turmeric powder and decorate the statue with flowers.
Then we stacked our bells around the statues, sprinkling more flower petals on top. We offered grapes and sweets to Shiva as well.
What we witnesses next was both magical and beautiful- our teacher, Aruna, began chanting the prayer that we recite before dancing each day along with another beautiful sounding sound. She sang as she waved incense sticks over the bells to bless them.
Check out these videos to witness it for yourself:
Then, one by one, we handed our bells to Aruna. To show respect for our teacher, we touch our forehead, touch the bells, then bow to and touch her feet.
There was definitely a new excitement in our feet as we danced around for the remaining class time! Next we will start preparing for a dance number that we will perform at the Cultural Night on campus next month!