Danseuse Sonal Mansingh talks about her recent performance in the city and the importance of cleanliness in our lives.
The message of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan can be spread in many ways and a recent performance in the city delivered the message beautifully. Padma Vibhushan Dr Sonal Mansingh, who has been nominated as one of the nine ‘Navratnas’ for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, has come up with a performance that promotes the cause of a cleaner India.
“My field is art and culture and I worked on how this concept of cleanliness can be depicted through art. I have never done anything like this in my career before,” shares the multi-talented dancer. ‘Divyalok — Abode of Divinity’ focuses on cleanliness of thought, action and speech through Puranic tales.
“Div means light and as we can see the environment in Delhi is very fuzzy now, there is no light and there is a lack of cleanliness. Life cannot go on without light. This performance is divided into three parts and focuses on the story of creation, the story of Bhasmasura and Krishna’s dance on Kaliya. I took these stories as they have a strong connect with our culture,” she shares.
The opening act is based on Devi Bhagwat and celebrates feminine power. “It focuses on tamas, rajas and sattva. The three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh were created by Devi and given the tasks to create, nurture and when the time arrives — to destroy. This is a cyclic process. Human beings also have all the three tattvas.
We all have anger, the tendency to destroy, we have ambition and when we are calm, we have sattva. However, what most people forget is that these three have to be balanced. We have to balance out ideas, action and speech. I believe that teachers and seekers and dancers like me can spread the message. But one has to have a clean thought process in order to have a clean speech and only then can we spread our message.”
Talking about the Bhasmasura act, she says that the kind of ingratitude that Bhasmasura had is rampant today. “Bhasmasura after gaining the power — to burn anyone by keeping his hand on their head — from Shiva, tried to use it on Shiva himself. He was later distracted by Mohini easily. Similarly, people just want to get ahead today, by hook or by crook. This is impurity in thought. This act in the performance spreads a message of purity of thought,” she explains.
The third act is based on Krishna-Kaliya story. Just like Krishna freed the river Yamuna from Kaliya, Mansingh is calling out to a lot more Krishnas in contemporary times to fight off pollution and clean our environment.
“A lot of people in contemporary times deal with negative thoughts and it is another form of pollution. In Indian thought, symbols play a huge role. For example, a flower is a symbol of your bhavana and devotion as it dosen’t bloom immediately. It is a long process. The seed has to become a plant and the plant has to bloom at the right time. It is time that we reintroduce this value system.”
The choreography took a significant time to develop. “I am not pleased easily. In the first act when Devi is creating the universe, there is meditation involved, so a dancer can’t just be jumping around, the movements have to be very calculated and that takes a lot of practice.”