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A kathak performance on Shiva’s Ardhangini avatar will promote gender equality

The Ardhangini propagates equality between a man and a woman.

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Feb 16, 2017 16:03 IST
Poorva Joshi
Poorva Joshi
Hindustan Times
Anuj Mishra,HT48Hours,Kathak
Kathak dancer Anuj Mishra. (Photo courtesy: NCPA)

Traditionally, in Indian mythology, Shiva is associated with destruction. He’s a third of the holy trinity – Bramha (the creator), Vishnu (the caretaker), Mahesh (another name for Shiva, the destructor) — and his all-consuming third eye ends humanity as we know it. In contrast, Shiva is also portrayed in his hermit-like form, living in the Himalayas.

“But there is another legend about Shiva that doesn’t pertain to either of his popular depictions — the inventor of dance, Nataraj,” says kathak dancer Anuj Mishra (30). A student of kathak exponent Pt Birju Maharaj, and a Sangeet Natak Akademi award winner (2012), Mishra is set to showcase the creative side of Shiva through a recital, at the NCPA, Nariman Point.

The performance, titled An Ode to Shiva, will see Mishra portray Shiva in the Nataraj form, and trace the history of kathak from its first reference in mythology – in demon king Ravana’s penance. “Ravana was a devout follower of Shiva, and he wrote the Shiva Stotram (a poetic tribute to the god). It spoke of Shiva’s greatness, valour, grace, and ability to love. As legend has it, Ravana’s devotion was so powerful that lord Shiva danced to the Stotram,” says Mishra.

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Mishra is a Sangeet Natak Akademi award winner (2012). (Photo courtesy: NCPA)

As Shiva, Mishra will perform the emotions showcased in the Stotram, more prominently the Anand Tandav (portraying joy) and Rudra Tandav (portraying anger and destruction). To focus on Shiva’s romantic disposition, Mishra will perform a recital that focuses on the former’s Ardhangini avatar – half man, half woman. The Ardhangini propagates equality between a man and a woman. What sets this recital apart is its conscious portrayal of Parvati in her normal state — not as godess Kali, the murderer, or Shakti, the goddess of power.

“Shiva is the only god within the trinity who has a monogamous relationship. Shiva and Parvati have appeared throughout mythology in different avatars, but always together. They also maintain absolute equality between genders – both are capable of a meditative state, and of hyper-destruction.”

Read more: Experimental cinema of the ’60s meets contemporary kathak and flamenco

Be there: An Ode to Shiva will be staged on February 17, 7pm
Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point; Tickets: Rs 200 onward on

As Shiva, Mishra will perform the emotions showcased in the Shiva Stotram. (Photo courtesy: NCPA)

First Published: Feb 16, 2017 15:48 IST