The night is enveloped by a thick blanket of dark velvety clouds. The light inside the temple is dim. Most unexpectedly, dancing winds tease through my long loose hair. A row of brass oil lamps flicker and lace, the pillared mandapam, outside the sacred sanctum.

Enveloped in an ochery haze, the auspicious mandapam is decorated with a beautiful border of yellow marigold flowers, interspersed with green mango leaves. There is excitement and anxiousness in the air. A gentle breeze fills my senses with the sensuous aroma of white jasmine flowers.

The head priestess, nods her head in approval. It is the auspicious hour of celebration and offering to the Gods! The silence of inward prayers, fills the night. The smell of the ocean, washes over us, as we raise our head in reverence, towards those who will appear before our eyes.

Like jubilant, thundering clouds, the sound of the mridangam, slices through the stillness. A singer stirs the empty space, with her voice, sending melodious ripples, into the darkness. A gentle sea breeze, caresses my skin. The clouds begin to unveil the darkness. I awaken to the shimmer of the full moon night, tiptoeing upon my skin and breath.

Suddenly, she appears, the woman of dreams, Swapnasundari. Ivory moonlight, kissed by the blaze of a golden sun. Swapnasundari, the sensuous, full bosomed temple dancer, gaja-gamini, with the gait of a graceful she-elephant.


Inspired by the Indian classical dance form called, ‘Vilasini Natyam’, by Smt Swapnasundari, at the Rukmini Arangam, in Kalashetra, Chennai, on the 25th of February 2013.