\nI first experienced this dance through one of the most beautiful Hindi films of this decade \u2013 Parineeta.\nThis dance is performed at the Durga Puja \u2013 a hindu festival that has its roots in Bengal.\nSo here I am in Bombay again, having planned my travel to coincide with durga puja, so that I would not only experience the dance\u2019s energy and beauty, but also capture it into pixels.\ndevotion\n\nblowing the conch shell \na priest in a dhoti and ang vastram\n\nTomorrow the dances start \u2013 so this evening I went across and\u00a0 established contact with some organisers of the event \u2013 it would be a pity if I were to miss the entire performance because of arrangement errors or permission glitches!\nOne of the organisers also invited me to participate and dance in the dhunuchi\u2026an idea that I find very appealing!\nTraditions such as these, are all around me, and it is hard to believe that it has taken so many years of life, for me to sit up and take notice!\n***\nOct 14th,\nHave just come back from the first evening! An absolutely exhilarating time! Drums, dance, coals, dhoop, a beautiful deity and wonderful people who\u00a0 were strangers when I reached there, but friends by the time I left!\nLast week on my photo forum I read someone complain about unfriendly people in Bombay \u2026and I found that totally contrary to my experience. Every single time I step out into this city, I feel it envelop me and include me completely into itself \u2013 seamlessly and effortlessly I am absorbed into any sub community as a visitor that they are delighted to welcome! I get absorbed into their lives like a drop gets absorbed into the ocean. The people of Bombay are the most amazingly inclusive people anywhere! And I love it to death!\nThe people I bonded with at the Durga Puja included 4 people from the organising committee \u2013 3 men and 1 woman, the security guards, and the drum beaters. Each one of them \u2013 including the security guard, danced the dhunuchi dance, with a little more abandon specially for my camera. It was an honor bestowed upon me by so many \u2026all strangers.\nI succumbed to the irresistible beat too and danced a bit\u2026.with the coal pots in my hands! Maybe folk dances have some magic potion in them that draw people into the rhythm and compel them to dance. Tomorrow is the more important day of the 10 day festival \u2013 more drums, more dancers, more color, and more preparedness on my part \u2013 for photography and for dancing!\n***\nOct 16th, 2010\nAn account of the dance and the rituals\u2026\nThe dhunuchi dance is a devotional folk dance, and is inclusive\u2026it does not divide people into performers and watchers. Anyone may begin dancing as it is simply one more way of worshipping Durga. The photos that follow show men and women, young people and old, novices and experts all dancing the dhunuchi with equal fervour.\nIn the dance, individuals pick up clay pots that are shaped like large wine glasses and are filled with burning coconut coir shells or coals, in their bare hands and dance in front of the deity, to the beat of large resounding drums beats. The drummers use a variety of drums and metal plates to create a beat and rhythm that is unique to Bengal.\nThe evening begins with the \u2018arti\u2019 and then the holy arti fire is used to light the coals in the dhunuchi pots.\nthe flame of the \u2018arti\u2019 diya is used to ignite the coals in the clay pots\nthe ignited coal\nthe smoking dhunuchi pots with coal and fragrant incense\nIndividuals take turns at this dance and sway and move around the staging area, facing the goddess, moving their burning hands in graceful movements. Smoke and sound and movement fill the air creating an immersive trance-like atmosphere in which devotees dance. The drummers lead the dancers with their beats \u2013 sometimes slow, sometimes fast\u2026and together they form around as a single united being.\nA photo-profile of the men whose beats awaken latent desires to dance ..\n\n\nThe drum beaters, have been specially imported from a village in Bengal and belong to a community and sub-caste whose inherited profession is drum beating.\n\nThey speak only Bengali, but with match enthusiasm on both sides, it is not impossible to communicate with them with only fragments of language.\nstunning foot work\nnot surprising that the drum beater himself couldn\u2019t resist the call of the drums and began to dance\na toddler gets the place of honor in the midst of the drum beating\n\n\nFinally the dancers and their devotional dhunuchi dance\u2026\ntaking blessings\n10 year old boy and teenagers\ncollege girls\n \na new bride\n\n\nseniors\n\nfirst timers\u2026\n\nand \nskilled dancers..\nwith technique\n\nand now the masters\u2026\n\n\n\nand the grand finale\u2026.\n\n\nThis fabulous folk festival lasts 10 days and ends with the immersion of the idol on the 10th day. Every year it has been organised in the same spot about 6km from my home since I was a child\u2026but it is only this year that I noticed the dhunuchi dance!!\nThe depth of my ignorance startles me and keeps me laughing at myself!\njm\n\n\nThe post The Dhunuchi Dance at Durga Puja appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.