Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Andhra Pradesh


Vira Natyam (Heroic Dance)

Viranatyam also known as Virabhadra natyam is a community or the traditional  ceremonial dance that used to be presented in the Siva and Virabhadra temples when Virasaivism was at its Zenith. Veerabhadra, the destroyer of Daksha's sacrifice is said to be the originator of this dance. Holding a sword in one hand and a shield in another hand the devotee dances and plays steps according to the beat of Viramam. It is a big percussion instrument which produces sharp and piercing sounds. Viramam sounds resembles the sounds of war drums and trumpets and Viranatyam resembles Tandavanrityam in its force and vigour. Dhole, Tashamarpa and Sonmayi are also played during the Viranatyam. At the time of Lingodbhava on the sacred day of  Sivaratri, these artistes present Urdhava Tandavam, a special type of dance.

Viranatyam is performed by Viramushti, Jangam, Balija and Devanga communities of Virasaiva cult. In Telangana, Viranatyam is presented by Viramushti and Jangam communities during the festivals in Virabhadreswara temple at Kovari and Kottakonda while offering Virabhadra palleram to the deity. A big plate with burning oil or camphor flames is held in both the hands from palms up to elbows and shown before the deity as an offering. The dancers also recite poems called Khadgalu in praise of Virabhadra and  his exploits. The artistes wield swords while singing these panegyrics. It is a vigorous and awful dance with long steps and upward movements of legs and hands. In devotional frenzy and  fervor, the artistes also pierce their tongues, cheeks, eyelids, throats and lips with spears and spikes of different denominations called Ekanarasam, Kantimarasam, Kanthanarasam and Sulanarasam. They bleed and dance in frenzy. This ceremonial dance has now gained wide popularity  as a folk art due to the many nuances introduced in the dance styles.