Fr. P. T. Chelladurai's debut or 'Arangetram' (maiden Carnatic music concert) was at St. Bede's Auditorium, Madras on June 11, 1972. He was the first ever Catholic priest to have an arangetram. He held the firstCarnatic Music Summer School, May 10-30, 1974. It celebrated its silver jubilee in May 1998. In October 1982, he became the Principal of the government-run Evening College of Carnatic music, Madras. He was awarded the title "Kalai Maamani" (the Great Pearl of Arts) by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in January 1996. April 10-12, 1998, at the International Carnatic Music Conference in Durban, South Africa, he presented a paper on "Carnatic Music in Christianity", besides giving a concert.
I could not document any evidence of Fr. Chelladurai’s links with Bharatanatyam dance, but this I can confirm, that about a decade ago my neighbors daughter, a Catholic, studied Bharatanatyam under a Brahmin exponent who was then our neighbour, and her arangetram was attended by a gathering of nuns and priests among whom was the Jesuit, Fr. Chelladurai who felicitated her.
A photograph of the young woman in her Bharatanatyam regalia in the family’s living room, with a large idol of Nataraja [Shiva] in the background, bears testimony to this.
The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary [FMM] nuns are already into Carnatic music. Fr Michael Amaladoss SJ [see page 76] suggests that they progress to doing Bharatanatyam. They would not need much encouragement. Their Stella Maris College is already into martial arts, yoga and reiki.
My campaign in the early years of the last decade got their “Meditation on Twin Hearts” Pranic Healing sessions – conducted on full moon nights for occult initiation ceremonies -- stopped.
Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta was an epitome of simplicity, purity and humility. The closing of her death centenary was commemorated by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary-Chennai Province, with the release of an audio cassette and a CD titled Pavazha Malli on the 7th July 2006 at 5.30 pm in St. Francis Hall at Stella Maris College… On this wonderful occasion Dr. Sr. Annamma Philip fmm, Principal, Stella Maris College, extended a warm welcome to the gathering.
Fr Michael Amaladoss S.J., the Director of the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions at Loyola College… to a great extent, has been instrumental in the production of the cassette...
In his felicitation, he extolled the endeavours of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in promoting Indian culture and music in Christian worship. He made special mention of Sr. Esther Rani, fmm and her accomplishments in Carnatic music. He also appreciated Sr. Rita Susai, fmm who works in the villages to promote folk music. He suggested that religious sisters could also excel in Indian dance, Bharatnatyam, as a means of self-expression. He pointed out that there are a few Jesuit priests who are versatile classical dancers. Besides, he emphasized that Bharatnatyam is an art form that is more suitable for women than men.
More painstaking research will reveal many other priests who are into Bharatanatyam dance but I will leave that for Bharatanatyam-II in which I will provide information on other “Indian classical dances” like Odissi, Mohiniattam etc., and quote extensively from Hindu -- and more specifically Brahmin -- exponents of Bharatanatyam. As it is, I have not referred to my hard copy archives of priests and Catholic institutions that are actively engaged in Bharatanatyam recital or promotion.
However, I just located a fair amount of information relevant to this subject stored in my computer files and I am proceeding with the filing of the evidence though not in proper continuity with the record that I have already made in the preceding eighty-three pages. I am copying here, two stories from the Nav Sadhana Kala Kendra [see page 53], Varanasi, web site just to show that major Catholic programs are conducted at this centre of Bharatanatyam dance. Dignitaries in attendance are bishops and priests from the Catholic charismatic renewal. The numbering is in continuation from the last item on page 53.
The sixth national Assembly of Signis India, the Association for Christian Communication, was held at Navasadhana, Varanasi, February 13-17. About 90 delegates from different parts of the country attended the assembly which dealt with the theme Spirituality and Religion - a Media Perspective. Swami Sachidananda Bharati* who heads the Dharma Bharati Ashram* and promoter of a movement for national regeneration, in his keynote address spoke of the need to work together for promoting a culture of peace. He stressed the need for religious leaders and communicators to have a more inclusive vision and mission. *See page 85
The inaugural Eucharist was presided over by Bishop Patrick D’Souza, Bishop Emeritus of Varanasi. Bishop Thomas Thurutimattom of Gorakhpur in his homily spoke of the need to be united and fearless in the media ministry. He recalled the message of Pope Benedict XVI and exhorted Signis members to take media seriously and with a sense of mission.
Former Professor of IIT and activist Ram Punyani highlighted how fundamentalist ideologies had high jacked the national ethos and unleashed hate campaign and violence in the country. He said people in India are deeply religious but religion is being grossly misused by religious leaders for political gain. Others who spoke during the convention include Fr. Lancy Lobo SJ, Fr. Anil Dev IMS, Mr. Amitabh Bhattacharya, Chief Editor, Northern Patrika, Prof. D. Geshe N. Samten, Vice Chancellor of Central Tibetan University, Sarnath, Fr. George Plathottam sdb, Executive Secretary, CBCI Commission for Social Communications, Dr. Magimai Pragasam, Media activist and trainer, Fr. Anand Muttungal, Spokesperson, Madhya Pradesh Bishops’ Council.
Signis India presented to Bishop Emeritus of Varanasi, Rt. Rev. Patrick Paul D’Souza a citation for his long and commendable contribution to media and communication in the church and society in India. Dr. Neerja Madhav, a Varanasi based artist, was felicitated for her contribution towards art, culture and literature. The students of Navsadhana Kala Kendra and Music and Dance School, under the leadership of Fr. Paul D’Souza, Director, enthralled the participants with their dance drama on the life of Christ.
The participants listened to film director Joseph Pulinthanth sdb, member of Signis, and director of two award winning films, Mathia and Yarwng which depict the struggle of indigenous minority tribal people of Tripura. Yarwng and several other films and documentaries produced by the Signis members were screened during the assembly.
A day- long study tour of the ancient and holy city of Varanasi enabled the participants to learn more about the history of the city sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and adherents of other religions. A felicitation programme, play and dance were held at Maitri Ashram, run by the IMS Society**. Signis India President Fr. Rappai Poothokaren SJ handed over awards to leading artists of Viswa Jyoti Communications, Varanasi, who have performed about 5000 theatre shows for about 20-lakh people during the last two decades of its existence… **It is actually Matridham Ashram
SIGNIS, formerly known as OCIC-Unda was established in 1928. Its present Latin name Signis is drawn from two words, ‘Signum’ (meaning Sign) and ‘Ignis’ (meaning Fire). SIGNIS INDIA with over 300 members is the largest member country of SIGNIS WORLD. It is recognized by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) and has twelve Regions, as delineated by the CBCI. Each Regional SIGNIS Unit has its own administrative structure.
Catholic Psychologists and Counsellors*** had been meeting every year for three days since 2000. Two years ago they officially formed a Conference, with Dr. Jose Parappully, a Salesian Priest from the Province of New Delhi, as its first President. The theme of this year’s meeting was "Children with Special Needs". The meeting was commenced with a Eucharist presided over by Fr. Subhash, the General of the Indian Missionary Society (IMS) who have their headquarters and motherhouse at Varanasi...
The inaugural session was presided over by Most Rev. Patrick D’Souza, Bishop Emeritus of Varanasi. The session began with a beautifully rendered prayer dance and welcome song by the students of Nav Sadhana College of Music and Dance. Fr. Jose Parappully SDB, the CCPI president welcomed the guests and participants…
There were moments of relaxation too. On the first night participants were treated to a cultural programme by the students of Nav Sadhana College of Music and Dance. On the second day participants went on a "Varanasi Darshan," the highlight of which was participation in the "Maha Arati" on the banks of the river Ganges***.
The national meet concluded with the Annual General Body Meeting of the CCPI.
The meeting this year was organised by the CCPI members from Kerala, led by Salesian Priest, Fr. C. M. Joseph.
*“Swami Sachidananda Bharati” is a “Catholic” New Age guru. See my report on him and his “Dharma Bharati Ashram” DHARMA BHARATHI-NEW AGE IN CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS http://ephesians-511.net/docs/DHARMA_BHARATHI-NEW_AGE_IN_CATHOLIC_EDUCATIONAL_INSTITUTIONS.doc.
What he must have talked about on “Spirituality and Religion” will be understood after reading it.
**The “Matridham Ashram or Matridham Ashram” is run by Indian Missionary Society [IMS] priests who are national leaders in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. They ‘lead crowds of Hindus to Jesus’ using the Gayatri mantra, the chanting of OM and the discipline of yoga.
Read about it in my article on “SANGAM…” [link given below], the one on MANTRAS and OM, link on page 51, the article on YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA…, etc.
***If you thought that I won’t comment adversely on the “Catholic Psychologists and Counsellors” who met at Nav Sadhana, you guessed wrong. Find out who “Fr. Jose Parappully SDB” is and know what goes on in the name of “Catholic Psychology and Counseling” in my report SANGAM INTEGRAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUALITY CENTRE, GOA-NEW AGE PSYCHOLOGY, ETC.
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/SANGAM_INTEGRAL_FORMATION_AND_SPIRITUALITY_CENTRE_GOA-NEW_AGE_PSYCHOLOGY_ETC.doc: -a whole lot of New Age.
What “Catholic Psychology and Counseling” can one expect to receive from a bunch of priests and Catholic lay psychologists -- however academically qualified -- who spend a day of their meet having a “darshan” of Hinduism’s holiest city [I can assure the reader that it cannot have been sight-seeing, and anyway there’s not much else in Varanasi but Hindu temples, ashrams and bathing ghats] ending with “"Maha Arati" on the banks of the river Ganges”, Hinduism’s holiest river?
If these eminent priests, psychologists and counselors can hold their annual meet at a centre that promotes a Hindu dance form and -- it goes without saying -- other Hindu influences on Christian rituals and practices in the guise of inculturation, would it be wrong to presume that they have no moral judgements on Bharatanatyam and the overall Hinduisation of the Catholic Faith?
Note that SIGNIS INDIA’s National Assembly on “Spirituality and Religion - a Media Perspective” too, needed “A day- long study tour of the ancient and holy city of Varanasi”. And Catholics are being formed by these priests and leaders who delve more into Hinduism than the teachings of the Church! 85. 16. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI] and Bharatanatyam
We have already seen that the CBCI promotes Bharatanatyam chiefly through the NBCLC and Nrityavani, by means of its Social Communications Commission,and through institutions like NISCORT, their National Institute of Social Communications, Research and Training. Here’s more 1. CBCI COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS Communication for Pastoral Leadership (CPL)
1.1.7.Dance as Communication Dance as prayer; Indian classical dances: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kathakali; Kuchipudi; Odissi, Sattriya; Folk dances of India: Gharba dance, Bhangara dance; Bihu dance; Ghoomar dance; Padayani dance; Kummi and Kolattam; Karagam dance; Kunitha dance.
2. Kolkata Dances, Prays For Mother Teresa September 15, 2010
About 2,000 people attended a four-hour long cultural extravaganza in Kolkata on Sept. 12, marking the culmination of first phase of Mother Teresa’s birth centenary celebrations in the city… The Catholic Association of Bengal in collaboration with the Missionaries of Charity (MC) congregation organized the celebrations. Dipika Das, who choreographed and danced in one of the programs… is specialized in Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form…
New Delhi, India - November 7, 1999 - Visit of Pope John Paul II At a Mass celebrated at Nehru Stadium, Indian young women bringing the Offertory gifts perform a dance before a large audience. See UCAN/The New Leader report and my comments on page 89 Inter-religious dialogue, the great leveler
17. The Archdiocese of Bombay, Interreligious dialogue,and Bharatanatyam
1. Archdiocesan Inter-religious Celebration of Christmas by Fr Gilbert de Lima, Professor of Theology, St Pius X College and Seminary, Goregaon, Mumbai, and member of the Committee for Inter-religious Dialogue
On October 21, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI in his Discourse to the heads of World Religions who had gathered at Naples for the 21st Inter-Religious Meeting on the theme: 'For a world without violence – Religions and cultures in dialogue'’, pertinently declared: "While respecting the differences of the various religions, we are all called to work for peace and to be effectively committed to furthering reconciliation among peoples. This is the true spirit of Assisi… Religions can and must offer precious resources to build a peaceful humanity... The Catholic Church intends to continue on the path of dialogue in order to encourage understanding between the different cultures, traditions and forms of religious wisdom. I warmly hope that this spirit will spread increasingly…"
It was in this same spirit that the Inter-Religious Dialogue Commission of the Archdiocese of Bombay organized the Annual Christmas Inter-Religious Get-Together on December 23, at the Holy Name High School auditorium.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay played host to about 130 invitees from different religious traditions as well as members from the Catholic community…
Soon after, there was a meaningful prayer service… A reading from the Gospel of St Luke which described the birth of the baby Jesus was followed by the cry from the Upanishads: "Lead me from the unreal to the real. Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality. May there be peace everywhere."*
Cardinal Gracias then lit the ceremonial 'Samayi'. This was followed by the 'ritual of lighting the light'… After this the Christmas Story was presented inBharatnatyam and Odissi. The story of the ‘Annunciation to Mary and the Magnificat was danced by Raul D’Souza* in Bharatnatyam. ‘Tarana’ (‘celebration’), a fusion of Bharatnatyam and Odissi was performed by both Raul and Mithali D’Souza… *See page 23, 91
The guest speakers representing four religious traditions presented their messages. Swami Amartyananda spoke on behalf of the Ramakrishna Mission…
**Never mind that in the birth of Jesus all those Upanishadic cries and longings were fulfilled! 86. 2. Archdiocese of Bombay
Young girls perform a traditional Indian dance at the conclusion of the Prabhu Yesu Mahotsav (Lord Jesus grand festival) in Mumbai on Oct. 18, 2009
ALMOST NO MAJOR FUNCTION IS COMPLETE IN THE INDIAN CHURCH WITHOUT THE INCLUSION OF “TRADITIONAL INDIAN DANCE” WHICH MOST OFTEN TRANSLATES AS BHARATANATYAM. 18. If even the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences [FABC] is tainted by Bharatanatyam, which is of course through the CBCI/CCBI, what hope do the Catholics of Asia have left?
The following event was reported by the FABC.
TheSt. Arnold Vikas Sancharruns thecommunication center for the Orissa Bishops’ Council, see page 45, andthe Bharatanatyam-crazy SVD runs the whole show.
A five-day Journalism workshop was organized by St. Arnold Vikas Sanchar (SAVS), the regional communication center for Orissa Bishops’ Council, at Jharsuguda, 18-22 April 2010. Twenty seven enthusiasts from four religious congregations and three dioceses of Orissa participated. The five-day programme helped them update themselves with new methods and technology. Besides becoming aware of the present media tactics, it also helped them to become good writers, reporters and critical analyzers of the media. (CBCISITE)
1b. SVD INDIA
http://www.svdindia.org/main.php?p=svdINFORMATIONEXTRACTED FROM THE RIGHT SIDE BAR OF THE PAGE
Learn Music, Classical Dances, Musical Instruments, Street Theatre and other performing Arts at St. Arnold Vikas Sanchar and join its Missionary Outreach Troop in Orissa.
THE ASIAN CONTEXT. The inculturation of Christian faith and values needs communication. Since the "Church is Communication" (Avery Dulles) she cannot exist in any culture, society or person without being communicated...
The relation between inculturation and social communication can be considered under two dimensions. The first considers the use of different communication means in transmitting Christian faith to the center of culture. The second dimension is to inculturate Christianity into these existing means of communication themselves… Storytelling, drama, dance, song, Indonesian shadow plays are all ways of communication already embedded in a given culture. If their content reflects Christian values and beliefs, they become instruments of inculturation. Since they are rooted deeply in local cultures, this communication does not stay on a superficial level, but goes deep into the hearts of people and their traditions.
There are, for example in India, a growing number of dancers and dance groups for classical dance using Christian themes and approaches.Kalai Kaviri,the College for Indian Dance and Culture in Tiruchirappalli is an example of such an approach for learning and teaching local communication arts.
(11) CONSECRATED LIFE Samuel H. Canilang
Christian Spirituality. Inculturation must result in a "new" Christian spirituality. An important example, in this regard, is the Catholic ashram movement in India. The objective is to develop a Christian ashram way of life. Many ashrams conduct courses on Indian spirituality, inculturation, yoga and related topics and give retreats. Many religious have been staying in these ashrams for a few days, weeks, or even months or years to make retreats or to participate in various courses or just to have an ashram-experience. Such exposure to ashram life has positively influenced many religious to think in terms of integrating various elements from ashram life into their communities.
It is horrendous that the FABC is so completely oblivious of the truth about Bharatanatyam, yoga and the “Catholic ashram movement” that it should recommend them for Catholics and the New Age andBrahminisationthatisbeingpassedoffas “Indian spirituality, inculturation… and related topics”. 87.
Bharatanatyamdance information in Catholic publications
1. Brush with art - Interview* with Leela Samson, Director of Kalakshetra, Chennai *originally published in Frontline
The New Leader, November 1-15, 2007 EXTRACT FROM A FULL PAGE ARTICLE *see pages 70-73
Q. As an accomplished Bharatanatyam artiste from a minority background, you have consciously opted to nurture traditional genres based on icons, symbols and mythologies of the Hindu tradition… What are your … feelings as an artiste from a Christian background who has chosen Bharatanatyam, a traditional art form soaked in the mythology of the majority community…?
A. …Art appreciation has to do with who you are. It’s a personal thing… Will it mean I can’t visit Khajuraho ever again or the Big Temple in Thanjavur because the lingam is 'offensive'? At which point will you draw a line if you start demarcating what is 'offensive' and what is not?
Well, Leela, I would certainly agree with you if the dance was art and nothing else but art. There are no spiritual guidelines in Christianity for evaluating or judging art. But Bharatanatyam is not exactly an “art” form, is it? The interviewer referred to its originating in “traditional genres based on icons, symbols and mythologies of the Hindu tradition” and the dance itself as “a traditional art form soaked in the mythology of the majority community”, facts that you did not even attempt to refute.
If you have still managed to remain a believing, practising Christian after all those years of performing what were till only recently temple dances the lyrics and mudras of which had religious meanings, you might want to take a more objective re-look at the issue. Right and wrong, good and bad in a Christian worldview are absolutes, not relative to one’s human perspectives. 2. Sandesha courses in Fine Arts concludes – CBCI News, Mangalore
The Examiner, May 17, 2008 EXTRACT
"Children should be encouraged to imbibe the taste for Indian culture and classical arts…" said noted artiste and educationist Dr M Mohan Alva at Sandesha** here on May 3… speaking as the chief guest at the valedictory function of the summer courses held at Sandesha from April 14 to May 3. The courses were inaugurated by Kum. Ester Noronha, a talented Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music and piano artiste… She also presented Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music recitals. There were altogether 213 students from the district and outside participating in the summer courses… Fr. Valerian Mendonca, the new director of Sandesha, welcomed the gathering. **pages 46-48
This is an excerpt from Peter Hans-Kolvenbach,the Superior General of the Jesuits letter of congratulations when this priest, see page 83, celebrated his Golden Jubilee in the Society of Jesus.
The Superior General records all Jesuits’ appreciation of this priest’s Carnatic music ministry.
3. Fr. Thomas Chelladurai, SJ (MDU)
Jivan, the Jesuit monthly, September 2003 EXTRACT
Your talent for music seems to have been easily sensed and you were encouraged to study Carnatic music professionally. I am glad to know that you are now an authority on the subject. I am told that a book you wrote on the subject has become a classic. Your earnest attempt during the last 25 years or so to train both religious and laity in Carnatic music and to introduce the same into liturgy is well appreciated. As a recognized musician, you are much sought after and I am happy to learn that music has become a means of inter-religious dialogue in your ministry.
Ihavesaidverylittleabout Madurai province Jesuit Fr. Thomas Chelladuraion page 83. Here’s more
The priest who promotes Carnatic music inside the church
Mylapore Times, November 8-14, 1997 by B. Parvathi EXTRACT
Father Chelladurai is a different kind of priest – one who may begin his day with the sadhana of Carnatic music…He has his own passion – Carnatic music. And he has one more now. To popularise Carnatic music in the Catholic Church. Every summer, at the Jesuit-run Satya Nilayam institution in Thiruvanmiyur, he gathers togetherseminarians, nuns and lay people after they have completed their four-week lessons, gets into a bus and hops from parish to parish in the city and in the suburbs to join the local church choir to sing together – but to a different tune – the ragas of Carnatic music. He says the parishioners have not raised their eyebrows yet. But they shy from joining him and his choir.
A few years ago, at the meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Tamil Nadu, he had an appeal to make – could each diocese send a few priests to him so that they could be trained in Carnatic music and then could go back to pass on these lessons in the parishes. Three or four priests responded but the Bishops have obviously had little time for music and liturgy.
Have the Bishops been raising their eyebrows when he talked to them about Carnatic music? "Not really," Fr. Chelladurai says. "They accept my views but there has not been any definite attempt to popularise Indian music."
Ordained a priest in 1967, Chelladurai got his break when the head of the Jesuit Order in the region sent him for a two-year diploma course in Indian Music. "I think that it was the will of God that I should take up Carnatic music," he says. The time was appropriate for the 'Indianisation' of church music – the second Vatican Council (the highest policy-making body of the Catholic Church) – had also acknowledged the place of local culture in the Church.
He started a summer school for Carnatic music in 1971 at Satya Nilayam*teaching interested Brothers (boys preparing for the priesthood, nuns and people the basics of Carnatic music. *the Jesuit philosophate, Chennai
Carnatic hymns in churches
Adyar Times, May 25-31, 2003 by R. A. Priyadarshini EXTRACT
A unique camp is going on at Satya Nilayam in Thiruvanmiyur. Father Chelladurai, a Jesuit priest who is also a 'Sangeetha Vidwan', is conducting this camp for young Catholics, nuns and those who are preparing to be priests.
The camp teaches these persons the basics of Carnatic music and hymns that are based on this classical form of music. This priest, who is a Kalaimamani awardee, says the intention of holding this camp is to spread the message of Christ through classical music.
There are 60 students and they train in four batches. His students are from a religious house in Hyderabad, nuns from various congregations and scholars from Bangalore. The camp which began on May 1 will be on till May 31. A very nominal fee of Rs. 500 is charged as tuition fee and it includes the boarding and lodging expenses. Besides vocal music, other teachers handle classes in veena, violin, mridangam and Bharatanatyam.
Sr. Denise Mary is a teacher in a school in Mumbai. She says she is attending this course because she wants to spread the songs to the rest of the world throughout her life.
This is a four-year certificate programme that is carried on in the month of May every year. Fr. Chelladurai… has devoted time and energy to the inculturation process in the Catholic Church which now encourages Carnatic music-based songs in the services.
Fr. Thomas Chelladurai‘s interpretation of inter-religious dialogue and inculturation is not what the Church has in mind but a skewed understanding of it. One can see yet again that Bharatanatyam cannot be separated from Carnatic music. Though the priest claims that he uses Carnatic music to “spread the message of Christ”, I can bet my entire library that Fr. Thomas Chelladuraiwould speak on music and not on Jesus Christ at every private opportunity to witness that comes his way.
NotethatSr. Denise Marysays thatshe wants to “spread the songs to the rest of the world throughout her life”. 4. Jesuit dancer wows Chennai audiences
Jivan, the Jesuit monthly, July 2003 EXTRACT
Fr. Saju George SJ*, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer who resides at Satya Nilayam, Chennai, kept a packed house spellbound for 2 hours on 4 April 2003. In a performance at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan auditorium, he judiciously mixed classical repertoire with Christian themes… *See pages 67-76
Saju George entered the Society in 1985 and was ordained a priest in 2001. He began learning Kuchipudi in 1988 under Naryacharyaguru M. C. Vedanta Krishna (Derric Munro), a senior lecturer of Kuchipudi at the Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata… He took a rigorous training in the Kalakshetra genre of Bharatanatyam under many illustrious gurus.
He is a disciple of Sangeeta Vidwan Sri Reji George in Carnatic vocal music. His love for Indian performing arts has led him to take up short-term training in Kathakali, Manipuri, Kalaripayattu [a form of martial arts], Yoga and theatre.
Catholic priest to present classical dance
Mylapore Times, October 15-21, 2005 EXTRACT
Fr. Saju George is a young Jesuit priest who is also a Bharatanatyam dancer. This priest, who will be returning to his home province of Kolkata, wants to bid farewell to the city with a special classical dance concert this Sunday. Fr. Saju has titled the show as 'Nritya Sadhana' and it will be held on October 16 at the Music Academy’s Auditorium. This performance is also a part of the celebrations of the Satya Nilayam Institute of Philosophy and Culture… which is involved in the philosophical training of young men who choose to become Catholic priests.
Preaching through dance is his passion
The New Indian Express, October 17, 2005 EXTRACT
Saju George, now a priest in the Catholic Priestly Order, brushed aside the criticism of some orthodox Catholics who blamed him for diluting core Catholic values and went ahead in pursuing his passion for Bharatanatyam. 5. Pope’s visit to India
The New Leader, November 16-30, 1999 UCAN News EXTRACT
On 7 November, Pope John Paul II celebrated a Mass with 60,000 people. Before the Mass, a group of 60 young women danced to a Sadri tribal language song as they led 180 bishops, about 800 priests and altar servers to the specially designed dais at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium… Forty young women performing a semi-classical dance then led cardinals of the papal delegation, archbishops and more altar servers to the dais.
Once seated, the Pope held a candle from which five women lighted their candles and then lit a five-wicked Indian brass lamp in front of the altar…
During the offertory, six Bharatanatyam classical Indian dancers led 10 people from different parts of Asia for the offering of gifts. During the Doxology at the end of the Eucharistic prayer, seven white-clad young nuns performed "arati", a sign of veneration with light, camphor, flowers and incense to the accompaniment of a Tamil spiritual song.
See the Traditionalist report with picture on page 86. It says, “women bringing the Offertory gifts perform a dance” but it appears the arati is being performed. The “Bharatanatyam classical Indian dancers” may have led the Offertory procession and not performed during the Holy Mass proper. The other dancers performed tribal dances preceding and outside of the liturgy itself. 89.
6. Kalai Kaviri starts 5-year degree courses in music and dance
The New Leader, September 1-15, 1997 EXTRACT
Kalai Kaviri, the Communication Centre of Trichy diocese has started a unique programme-integrated five-year degree course in dance and music… Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance (Bharatanatyam). Bishop S. L. Gabriel of Trichy inaugurated the part-time Mohiniyattam course. He said the Church is proud of Kalai Kaveri, which promotes cultural arts and uses them to spread the Good News. Kalai Kaviri honoured as best art institute in Tamil Nadu
The New Leader, January 16-31, 2001 UCAN News EXTRACT
Tamil Nadu has cited a Catholic Communication Centre as the best art institute in the State and commended its 22 years of service for social change… The institute is affiliated to the government-owned Bharatidasan University. The college [Kalai Kaviri] …provides courses in dance and music forms that were once considered the monopoly of high-caste Hindu Brahmins.
The reference is, quite obviously, to Bharatanatyam. For Kalai Kaviri, see pages 49-52, 68, 70. 7. Nav Sadhana: degrees and awards presented
The New Leader, April 16-30, 2002 EXTRACT
The Nav Sadhana Kala Kendra, a college of music and dance at Tarna, Shivpur, Varanasi, held its 4th convocation ceremony on March 10, 2002. About 500 persons including Bishop Patrick D’Souza of Varanasi and Bishop Isidore Fernandes of Allahabad… participated... Affiliated to Indira Kala Sangeeth Vishwavidyalaya, Nav Sadhana offers a 3-year degree course, B.A. (Hons.) in Bharatanatyam… and Hindustani vocal music.
For Nav Sadhana Kala Kendra, see pages 53, 85. SATHANGAI ACADEMY, Madurai, Archdiocese of Madurai, Tamil Nadu
8. Church helps loosen high-caste grip on art
The New Leader, February 1-15, 2002 UCAN News EXTRACT
Low-caste girls in a southern Indian city could not dance like their high-caste counterparts were doing until the Church provided them with "giggling anklets". After Madurai archdiocese in Tamil Nadu state began an art centre 30 years ago, some of the low-caste girls have become professional classical dancers. Jesuit Fr. V. J. Ganaprakasam, a historian who holds the chair of Christianity at Madurai Kamaraj University said that classical music and dance were formerly taught to and performed by upper-caste people only. To counter this, Madurai archdiocese opened Sathangai (giggling anklets) in 1971 to teach the region’s traditional Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance. Classical dancers wear jingling anklets that help keep the rhythm.
Fr. A. Martin, executive director of the centre, claims that it has rendered great service through "meaningful diffusion of the Gospel message" in the Hindu-dominated region.
Fr. Arul said the University took more than two decades to recognize the center due to pressure from upper-caste groups.
The priest explained that some upper-caste Hindus resented that the center taught art forms linked to Brahminical Hinduism and temples.
“Arangetram” (entering the stage), a Bharatanatyam student’s first public performance, would be at a temple, during a feast, said Seethalalakshmi, a high- caste Brahmin woman who teaches part time at the center.
In 1988, detractors accused the centre of using its students to produce pornographic films. Church officials refuted the charge and dismissed the allegations as part of a hate campaign due to the center’s popularity. Nonetheless, since receiving university recognition, even upper-caste students have sought admission to the center.
Here is yet another diocesan initiative to propagate the “art” of Bharatanatyam. The state of Tamil Nadu has two dioceses that run colleges that teach the dance.
Though I located this news item only on the day that I was completing this report, it gives fresh evidence to confirm what I have been insisting on all along: that Bharatanatyam is a temple dance of the Brahmins, the highest caste among the adherents of the Hindu religion. Worship of “mother earth” as a living entity is intrinsic to Bharatanatyam
9. Wow classical by Artni Krishna Moorthi
Pioneer, 2002 Annual magazine of the diocesan-runFr. Muller’s Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Mangalore EXTRACT
In my several articles on the New Agealternative quackery called Homoeopathy, I have copied a number of references to New Age from the Pioneer magazines of the last decade to prove that Homoeopathy keeps New Age company. "Wow classical" is a three-page instruction on Bharatanatyam that starts: "It is believed that Saint Bharatha was the first one to introduce this type of art of dancing, hence the name… Each movement from head to toe has its own meaning. Each dancer has to begin and end her dance with the procedure called Thatte Kumbidal which is done for begging pardon from mother earth for stamping on her, asking mother earth to purify and give strength to the dancer and remove all the evil influences surrounding her." "Thatte- to strike; Kumbidal- to salute/Anjali." 90.
Influenced by our Catholic priests. [For more on Raul D’Souza, see pages 23, 86]
1. Raul D’Souza Bharatanatyam dancer by Suhani Singh Time Out, Mumbai
In 1996, 25 young classical dancers gathered in Nehru Centre to participate in the Akhila Bhartiya Yuva Mahotsav, a festival to promote young talent. Odissi dancer Mitali Raul remembers the occasion well. It wasn’t just the first time she saw Raul D’Souza, a Bharatanatyam dancer and her husband-to-be, but also the day she realised how difficult it is for an artist who isn’t Hindu to establish himself in the Indian classical arts.
When the compere announced Raul D’Souza’s performance, the audience responded with titters. But a decade later, D’Souza – a Roman Catholic – appears to be having the last laugh: critics says he’s among the few talented male dancers on the scene and he’s won fans for his portrayal of Krishna in Hema Malini’s ballets.
D’Souza believes that success like his couldn’t have come in any city other than Mumbai. "I have received offers to start an institute in Gujarat or settle in New Zealand but wherever I went or however long I stayed I had to come back," said 38-year-old D’Souza. "Any other place, it would have been harder. Mumbai is a far more tolerant city and non-Catholics here have appreciated my work."
D’Souza was born in Mumbai and grew up with his sister and two brothers in a "disciplined" Catholic household in Bandra. His father, Arthur, worked with Bombay Xaverian Corporation, which managed the interests of Jesuit priests in Mumbai, and his mother, Ena, was a teacher at St Teresa’s High School in Bandra. One day, while attending mass atSt Teresa’s Church, D’Souza, Raul then just ten years old, heardFather Francis Barboza announce that he had started dance classes. D’Souza thought that dance would be a "cool way" to channelise his energy.
His parents were encouraging. By the second class, Barboza – who was known as the "Half-Naked Priest" because he wore a dhoti that left his torso bare – had taught D’Souza how to put on a dhoti. "Ever since, I have felt more comfortable in dhotis than pants," said D’Souza.
After his arangetram in 1987, D’Souza travelled with Barboza to perform in villages across south India, visited temples, studied sculptures for graceful postures and met with Carnaticmusicians, who unlike him were vegetarians and spoke little English. "It was a journey of discovery," said D’Souza. "Staying with my guru, serving him, he trained me not only in dancing, but introduced me to new cultures."
Currently, D’Souza balances his terpsichorean talents with a job as the sole representative in India of Istituto Marangoni, one of Italy’s leading fashion and design schools. D’Souza hopes that his two daughters will inherit heir parents’ talent. "Sensitivity is missing in Mumbai," said D’Souza. "If a person dies, people don’t weep anymore. I think it [Bharatanatyam dance] is the highest form as it makes you a better and complete person."