Aangikkam Bhuvanam
(your gesture is the        world) yeshya (and) Vachikkam Sarva Vaang Mayam (your words/music prevail every where in all languages); Aharyam Chandra Taraditvam (your décor is the moon and stars); namaha (we bow) Saatvikkam Shivam (your emotion is Truth).

 As the artistic director and guru of Kalairani Natya Saalai, for decades, and known for having a large collection of Bharatanatyam costumes (I have often joked that I could have built a house for the amount of money invested in KNS costumes jewelry and props), I have given my thoughts about the Bharatanatyam decor in this section.  I trust it will be useful to my own students and others.
— Rani


History of Bharatanatyam

The world existed with 4 vedas; VEDA means philosophy.  The four Vedas were RIG, ATHARVA, SAMA, YAJUR.  Sages felt these Vedas were too rigid and wanted something more uplifting and enlightening.  God INDIRA came up with the idea to create a 5th Veda and told God BRAMMA who reviewed the presentation and summoned sage BHARATAMUNI to undertake the task.  (Muni means sage so actual name is Bharata).  Bharatamuni took assistance from TANDU who felt there was a lack of grace called LASYA or LAYA so a 100 APSARAS (females) were created to portray grace. It was only after that, Shiva mastered the dance style. Words (Vachikkam) were taken from RIG Veda.  Emotions (Saatvikkam) were taken from ATHARVA Veda.  Music was taken from SAMA Veda. Gesture (Aangikkam) was taken from YAJUR Veda. 

 And a 5th Veda called NATYA Veda was created.  A 5th element of AHARYAM or Décor was added to this Natya Veda.  

Here in KNS one of the strict principles we follow is the AHARYAM.

  1. Nethichutti – single or double depending on the dance item and the costume
  2. Sun Moon Raakodi
  3. Jimikki Mattel
  4. Mookuthi – Nuthu Bullaacku
  5. Pottu – above the eyebrows
  6. Necklace
  7. Aaram or Maalai
  8. Bangles
  9. Odiyanam
  10. Salangai

But the one common error I see around is the Hairdo.  Because that takes the longest time, the dancers compensate with a ponytail.  To have such a hairstyle with a classical Bharatanatyam costume is simply INCOMPLETE.  True, we are in a fast world, but when you have chosen a traditional art, spend hours in practicing and staging, then a little more effort to keep the art complete and alive should not be compromised be it long hair or the traditional braid.

Yes, we are all looking for something different especially if you perform frequently.  Here’s something we did at the Kumbabishekam show September 2016.  We used fresh flowers from the garden of Smt. Rani Jayamathi.


Here in US we do not have make-up person for Bharatanatyam.  We are on are own.  A good dancer should learn to fix her own hair rather than dragging her mother or sister.  Here is an example.  This little girl (below picture third from right) Aarthi finished graduation at age 9 and this was a tour to Pennsylvania without her mother to accompany.  I walked into the dressing room to fix her hair and she was all dressed up – hair done as well.  I found out that she practiced and practiced before the tour to do it herself. Kudos!  Way to Go!