This week in Kuchipudi class (that’s the dance class I’m taking here, Kuchipudi is the traditional dance of Andhra Pradesh province…) we had a pooja (sort of like a seder) to get our bells! Kuchipudi is danced with thick bands of ankle bells, and getting them is a very special ceremony. We had to bring all the supplies for the pooja (flowers, camphor, incense, a candle, turmeric powder, a coconut, sweets to snack on afterwards and a gift for the professor), and our professor brought a statue of Shiva, the god dancers pray to.
So we draped Shiva with the flowers, burned the incense and our professor said the prayers while we placed our bells around the base of the Shiva. Then she dabbed each of us with the turmeric powder on our foreheads (in the place of a bindi, the dot between the eyes) and we waved the smoke of the camphor over our heads. Then we picked our bells back up and our professor put them on us, and then we were officially Kuchipudi dancers with our very own bells!!
Below is my professor putting the turmeric on our TA (who is appropriately named Shiva 🙂 ).
We’d all dressed up fancy for the ceremony, not thinking we’d actually be dancing that day, but we did have practice after all. And it was much much more fun with the bells on (though then people could clearly tell when you were trying to practice the step while the professor was talking… 😛 ).
We will be performing and the SIP Cultural Night this coming month and will be wearing the bells for that, we’ll also be in heavy full costume but those we will be renting. But the bells we get to keep and now we’re really Kuchipudi dancers!