Come and see our amazing South Asian festival celebration that is Purvai tonight at An Lanntair, beginning with a delicious Indian banquet! You can book at Lanntair.com
On Tuesday, we took the wonderful Kanchan Maradan to the ward ceilidh at Western Isles Hospital to dance Kathak for everyone.
Kanchan talked for about ten minutes about the history of this dance art form and about how she got into dancing, following along to the dances in Bollywood films. It surprised us to learn that Mumbai born Kanchan actually learned Kathak in London!
She talked about how the dance is storytelling and showed us some movements, devotions to Krishna with a flute and Ganesh with the elephant trunk and ears.
I remember Dr Stephanie Bunn, of the Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews, telling me during our Woven Communities project work together, ‘We are all Anthropologists.’ Indeed.
We passed around Kanchan’s heavy strings of bells before she tied them to her ankles, looping one end around her big toe to hold it firm as she wound the string up her strong ankles.
‘My brother says he wouldn’t like to get a kick from me’, she laughs, referring to the weight of the bells toning and strengthening her legs.
It struck me again, how insights into cultures from distant places connect people with storytelling, as we saw with Dal last week. ‘Kathak is a very beautiful dance, it is storytelling and you can see from the movements. We used to gather in courtyards and tell stories about gods, mostly. We have so many official languages in India. And so many gods. And they all have stories.’
I ask Kanchan about the make up and jewellery.
‘God is within us’, she explains, ‘I do feel pressure to get ready to go out but I quite like that. It’s a celebration of God within us.’
I quite like that too.