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This Odissi dancer teaches meditation through sacred dances

Amid new-age meditation practices, Odissi dancer Zia Nath is reviving an ancient form of meditation — whirling mandalas and sacred dances

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Apr 21, 2017 16:23 IST
HT48Hours,Zia Nath,Whirling mandala
A whirling mandala performance.

This weekend, Odissi dancer Zia Nath (42) wants to take you back to the ancient cultures of whirling dances. Nath has been practising the sacred dances, a unique form of movement meditation, for 25 years. Last week, she started monthly workshops at Bandra’s performing space, House of Wow. However, she is not looking to popularise the art form or to make it trendy. “Whirling and movement meditation find its roots in ancient Asian cultures. I respect it, and don’t want it to become just another fad. No offense to Zumba or Zumba Bhangra, but when people sign up for this workshop, I want them to know that it’s purely a form of meditation,” says Nath.

Zia Nath taking a workshop.

Last week, at her introductory session, 15 participants took part. Nath was surprised to see that most of them were interested in the raw form of meditation, and either had theoretical or practical knowledge. “The culture of whirling is predominant in Rajasthan’s traditional folk dance, Ghoomar, as well as in Sufism,” says Nath who is a self-taught artist inspired by these dance forms. Her initiation into these meditation practices happened at the Osho Meditation Centre in Pune over two decades ago. For the next few years, she trained at an institute in New Mexico.

Nath, who has been teaching movement meditation across India, UK and China, for the past 15 years, says she categorically refrains from calling her dance form a spiritual practice. “The meditation invokes a sacred consciousness within us. The moment you say ‘spiritual’, people come with a range of expectations. In the practice of these dances, we recognise experiences in our body and come close to the understanding of the law of three — affirming, denying and reconciling,” she adds.

Be there:

What: Zia Nath’s workshop on Sacred Dance and Whirling Mandala, will take place on April 9, 10.30am to 12pm Where: House of Wow, Bandra (W)
Call: 99302 46031 to register
Price: Rs 1,100 per person

First Published: Apr 07, 2017 16:52 IST