Traditional music and dance resound South Indian culture

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Venkat Raman

Producing the First Indian Newslink Festivals of South India has been an exciting experience. That excitement is shared by five Associations that have organised the event on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at Sacred Heart College Auditorium located at 250 West Tamaki Road, Glendowie, Auckland.

The highlight of the evening would be traditional music and dance; we have determinedly retained the traditional aspect of music and dance, for they are the true forms of performing arts that have sustained for centuries, inspiring many of our young people to practice them.

We salute parents, teachers and elders in our communities for conscientiously encouraging children to learn these forms of arts, practice and present them on stage.

Festivals of South India would be a tribute to their patronage.

Venerated Expression

In ancient India, Dance in its classical form was the most venerated expression of devotion, dedication and diligence, cultivated to express, elevate and extol dignity and divinity.

Dancers were treated with respect and honour, with emperors, scholars and even warriors finding time to promote its values and ideals.

Dancers of yore found a special place in kings’ courts, temples, public places and home, and were respected as true manifestations of God, epitomising the grace, style and strength of the Supreme Being.

Dance in any form has found a place of distinction and support in most parts of the world, transcending manmade barriers of religion, class and income.

Young men and women dancers today show commitment and dedication that was not experienced a few decades ago, save for a few who kept the fire burning.

Talented teachers have established dance schools in most parts of the world to explore and expose talents.

New Zealand is one of them.

Indian Tradition

Theatre and dance in South Asia stem principally from Indian tradition.

As Encyclopaedia Britannica mentions, the principles of aesthetics and gesture language in the Natyashastra, a 2000-year-old Sanskrit treatise on dramaturgy, have been the mainstay of all the traditional dancers and actors in India.

“Even folk performers follow some of its conventions. Despite the influence of the different religious waves that swept the Subcontinent through the centuries, the forms of dance and theatre were always able to preserve their ancient core.”

Dance is a part of all Hindu rituals. Farmers dance for a plentiful harvest, hunters for a rich bag, fishermen for a good catch. Seasonal festivals, religious fairs, marriages, and births are celebrated by community dancing.

“A warrior dances before the image of his Goddess and receives Her blessings before he leaves for battle. A Temple girl dances to please her God. The Gods dance in joy, in anger, in triumph. The world itself was created by the Cosmic Dance of Lord Shiva, who is called Nataraja, the King of dancers, and worshipped by actors and dancers as their patron.

Performances and Performers

The Festivals of South India will set the platform for celebration of cultures of the five States, namely Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Each of these States is rich in culture, colours, costumes and cuisine, which will form the core of the event. From Bharata Natyam, which is said to be the oldest form of Indian Classical Dance, Kuchipudi and Kathakali to various forms of folk dances, there is abundant tests of talent, endurance, discipline and grace of performers. These would come to the fore at our event on September 21, 2019 in Auckland.

Ratna Venkat

The Festivals of South India will begin with a performance by Ratna Venkat, a professional dancer who has achieved proficiency in Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Fusion, Folk and many other forms of dance.

Born and raised in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Ratna commenced her training in Bharata Natyam when she was less than five years of age and continued learning the art along with Kuchipudi and presented her Arangetram and Rangapravesham on March 10, 2007 in the presence of the then Governor General, Prime Minister, political and community leaders. Since then, she has hundreds of performances to her credit in New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and India. Renowned for her innovative choreography and fusion of dance formats, she is a recipient of several awards including ‘The RAMS Foundation Princess of Kuchipudi Award’ from the then Prime Minister John Key in November 2016.

Ratna will present a dance number praying tribute to three Goddesses- Parvathi (Representing Shakthi or Power), Lakshmi (Wealth and Prosperity) and Saraswathi (Knowledge and Learning).

Chennai City Gangzta 


Tamil Nadu has been the seat of music and dance since Tamil is stated to the oldest language in the world and many Emperors and Dynasties promoted art in its varied forms. Along with traditional styles, folk dances also thrive, one of the most significant of which is ‘Oyilattam,’ known for its elegance and beauty.

It is said to have originated in Madurai and prevalently practiced in Kongu Nadu. The Southern part of the State was once a regal territory and many kings have ruled Madurai and other regions where devotional dances hailed.

The dance gradually received popularity in Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli and other parts of Tamil Nadu. Ramayana, Mahabharatam and mythological stories of Lord Murugan act as the main source of this beautiful folk dance form.

Students and enthusiasts of ‘Chennai City Gangzta Dance Academy’ will present Oyilattam.

Among them are Lakshmi Priya Angusamy, Puma Sasha, Raisa Infreda Arokiaraj, Sandhya Sridhar, Asha Amarasingam, Janani Hari and Kaviya Kathiravan

Director and Teacher Raisa said that there is substantial interest among the resident Tamil and other communities to learn a number of dance formats that are popular in South India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular.

An IT professional with a postgraduate (Masters) degree in Engineering from the AUT University in Auckland, Raisa also conducts regular classes in modern forms of dances.

Andhra Pradesh

Dance, Drama and Music were a part of life in Andhra Pradesh from the Satavahana times (1st Century). Ancient Temple sculptures provide extensive examples of the dance prevalent in those times and earlier.

Kuchipudi is a dance style of Andhra origin, deriving its name from Kuchipudi Village in Krishan District. The village was gifted by Abul Hasan Tanashah to the Brahmin community who were practicing the art as their family profession for generations.

Siddhender Yogi was the father of this dance style. His Bhamakalapam used to be a show of music and dance filled with occasional humour, attracting thousands of people.

New Zealand Telugu Association is presenting the following items.

Abhishek Ravi

Kuchipudi dance item will be presented by Abhishek Ravi, Sushma Kunche, Bhargavi Vindamuri, Bharani  Vindamuri, Swetha Gopi and Ashwini Rohan.

Born in New Zealand, 15-year-old Abhishek began dancing career at the of seven under Anuradha Ramkumar. He is equally adept in Jazz, Contemporary and Hip-hop and choreography. He also plays Veena, Drums and Guitar and been in school band.

Abhishek is now at the highest academic level at Mt. Roskill Grammar School.

Earlier this year, Abhishek won the First place in Choreography Category at Cleveland Aradhana Bharatanatyam Competition, USA. He is also a recipient of Scholarships for Jazz and Contemporary from Kairos Dance Convention and was selected to perform at Tempo Dance Festival.

The Association will also present a Folk Dance performed by Bhargavi Matta, Chandrisha Sarepalli, Kavya Itla, Manasa Goud, Pooja Chakilam, Shradha Karankot, Shravya Srihari, Sukeerthi Reddy Banda, Sunitha Itla and Tarunya Srihari.


Telangana has a cultural history of more than 5000 years.

The region emerged as the foremost centre of culture in Indian subcontinent during the rule of Hindu Kakatiya dynasty and the Muslim Qutab Shahi and Asaf Jahi dynasties, also known as the Nizams of Hyderabad.

Their patronage and interest for arts and culture transformed Telangana into a unique multicultural region where two different cultures coexist, making the State the representative of the Deccan Plateau and its heritage with Warangal and Hyderabad being its epi-center.

Among the major cultural events celebrated are Kakatiya Festival, Deccan Festival, Bonalu, Bathukamma, Dasara, Ugadi, Shankaranthi, Milad Al Nabi, Eid Al Fitr (following the Holy Month of Ramadan) and Eid Al Adha.

Telangana has long been a meeting place for diverse languages and cultures. It is known as ‘South of North and North of South.’ It is also known for its Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb and the Capital City of Hyderabad is known as a ‘Miniature India.’

Events Integrated

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking at the Bathukamma Festival of Telangana Association of New Zealand on October 13, 2018 (INL Picture)

Major events of the State of Telangana, combining Political, Social and Religious segments will be presented in one format as a part our Show. Presented by Telangana Association of New Zealand, These will incorporate Ugadi marking the Telugu New Year, Bonalu (A Festival paying obeisance to Goddess Mahankali Bonalu), Telangana Formation Day, Bathukamma (a Floral Festival predominantly celebrated by Telangana women), Makara Shankaranthi (Dedicated to Sun God) and Holi, the Festival of Colours, Unity and Happiness.

Among the performers are Akshita Gangishetti, Avanthi Nannegari, Greeshma Kasuganti, Harshita Bheema, Hiral Pusarla, Keerthana Sannidhanam, Keeru Rangu, Mayuri Medapati,  Mithila Panuganti, Neha Kalaru, Sathvika Alle, Sejal Enaganti and Srija Middidodi.

Tamil Nadu

The community in Tamil Nadu is smaller compared to their Telugu compatriots but Muthtamil Sangam will mark its 20th Anniversary next year, also celebrating its involvement in Tamil Culture and Literature.

Ambika Krishnamoorthy as Kannagi

The highlight of the Association’s involvement in the Festivals of South India would be ‘Kannagi,’ a righteous woman and heroine of ‘Silappatikaram,’ an Epic in Tamil Literature. Known for her virtues, she questions the decision of Pandiyan King Nendunchezhian in executing her husband Kovalan on unproven charge of theft. Later, she her fury burns the City of Madurai.

The episode, incorporated by author Ilango Adigal, was to prove that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ some 1200 years before the actual phrase was written by William Congreve.

Dancers Nikhila Sethu, Anjali Biju, Laksika Sivanesan and Vithusika Sivanesan will perform three different folk dance styles.


Karnataka is famous for its traditional and cultural forms of performing arts including dance, music, folklore, Broadway and other forms of expression.

It is also the only State in which Carnatic and Hindustani Music flourish.

Kunitha Performance

New Zealand Kannada Koota will present five dance forms known as Kunitha. This will include Kodava Kunitha from the Coorg region performed by Kodava women wearing traditional Kodava dress with jewellery with their foreheads adorned by Kumkum.

They will dance in a circle  and dance in a circle to a swinging rhythm.

Among the performers are Pushpa Shankar, Smitha Gowri, Sunitha Katte and Sunitha Rajshekar

Here come the Tigers

Pili Yesa in Tulu or Hulivesa is a folk dance unique in coastal Karnataka. It is performed during Navratri to honour the Goddess Durga whose favoured animal is the tiger.

Hulivesha dance participants Adithya Shankar, Raghav Rao, Saikrishna Bangalore, Sanjana Katte and Tanvi P Kidiyappa


Yakshagana from Uttara Kannada combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, makeup and stage techniques with a unique style and form.

Yakshagana will be presented by Shruti Joshi.

Janapanda Kunitha

Janapanda Kunitha is performed in Karnataka villages by men and women in traditional gear.

Janapanda Kunitha will be presented by Priya Manju, Kruthi Sriram, Vatsala Gujjanudu, Lalitha Vijaynarasimhan, Shalini Manjunath, Achala Murthy, Sowmya Rao, Mamatha Praveenkumar and Malkappa Yatnur.

Kamsale Nritya

Kamsale Nritya is connected to a tradition of worship of Male Mahadeshwara (Shiva) by a group of men in Mysore region.

Kamsale Nritya will be performed by Satya Kumar Katte, Manu Mohan, Suprith Jain and

Sriram Sugumaran


For over a thousand years, Performing Arts have been developed in Kerala, with its own brand of traditional music instruments, some of which are becoming rare.

Kathakali is one of the most significant contributions of Keralites to worldwide stage, for the dancer/s, with extensive and unique makeup that takes several hours, narrate stories from epics. We hope to present Kathakali sometime in the future in Auckland.

Among the other popular forms of art are Koodiyattam’ which has earned the status of UNESCO Heritage.

Kummattikali, Kannyarkali, Thullal, Thirayattam, Padayani and Theyyam are also popular, although they are not performed in many places.

Auckland Malayali Samajam has brought together many artistes to perform at the Festivals of South India.

Dr Dhanya Jayaraj: Mohiniattam

The items will include Mohiniattam by Dr Dhanya Jayaraj and Margamkali by

Athulya Sreejith, Blessy Adarsh, Dhanya Sujith, Priyadarshini Balachandran, Shalini Menon and Shilpa Prem.

Margamkali artistes

Ticket Details

Tickets for the Programme, priced at $34.50 per person and tables seating ten persons each at $345 (including GST) are now available with the officials of the Associations.

For further information, please call 021-836528 or Email:

Please look for updates on the websites of the five associations and at

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