Alarippu to Moksha – Taking Indian Classical Dance to Rural Malaysia

The ongoing From Alarippu to Moksha dance festival at the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Kuala Selangor into its fourth day today, is turning out to be an experiment putting to test the endurance and enthusiasm of Indian classical dancers and their diehard fans.

I was among a sizeable group of Kuala Lumpur based fans who braved the late afternoon rain and subsequent traffic crawl to make our way to the festival venue some 60km away from the city.

The 1,194 sq km Kuala Selangor district comprising two divisions, Tanjung Karang and Kuala Selangor shares borders with Sabak Bernam at the north, Hulu Selangor and Gombak at the west, Petaling at the southwest and Klang at the south.

The brightly lit temple, the abode of the beauteous Subramaniar Swamy and his consorts Valli and Theivanai, stood resplendent as a jewel at the end of our almost two hour journey.

The festival proceedings were already underway with Puchong based Nrityam Arts’ guru, Yamuna Ramesh halfway through her solo performance. Her realistic abhinaya depicting the navarasa (nine mellows) was intense and her steps most energetic. This, despite her not performing to a packed audience of hundreds at a city venue.

Yamuna’s resolve to give her best at an open venue with sparse audience is in line with the objectives of Sutra Foundation which jointly organises the annual festival now into its third year with the temple authority, to bring a city delight to the people of Kuala Selangor.

Temple chairman K. Mogana Sundram points out that the satisfaction for Yamuna and the other dancers participating in the festival in particular Sutra Dance Theatre artistic director, Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, the festival founder, is dancing in front of Sri Subramaniar Swamy.

“I believe Sri Subramaniar Swamy has brought all these dancers to come dance here for his delight. The joke among us is that during this six-day festival the deity’s consorts will be feeling jealous seeing Him so engrossed in the dancers’ performances.”

Mogana Sundram says the temple authority is doing its best to get more of the local people to watch the dances at the festival by personally distributing pamphets and inviting them although admitting that the hold of Tamil TV serials over many Indians there is still very strong.

Padma Nrithalaya Arts Seremban took the stage after a breath-taking Kuchipudi performance by Guru Varsha, a post-graduate student of the famed Melbourne based Malaysian dancer, Dr Chandrabhanu.

Padma Nrithalaya guru Vinosree Shangkar is the co-artistic director of the festival together with Ramli Ibrahim. Her students including her daughter Varshini held the audience spellbound with a range of dance drama performances.

Their rendition of the rare Laya Kavithai or rhythmic poetry song composed by Karaikudi Mani in praise of Kalaimagal, the goddess of the Arts proved a most soothing experience for all gathered at the venue.

At the end of the performance at 9.30pm with the delightful Valli Kanavan kavadi sindhu piece, dinner was served to all gathered. All in all it was a day well spent unwinding from the hustle and bustle of city life, at one with the arts in the heart of the greenery filled rural environment of Malaysia.

Review by R. Sittamparam

Photo by Mohana Sundram

For more information about the festival contact: +603 4021 1092 (Sutra Foundation) or

T +6019 3345056 (Mr. Mohana Sundram/Temple Chairman)


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GPS COORDINATES: 3.400849 101.267940


7.30pm – 9.30pm

Sittam Param

Writer, poet, dramatist and former journalist. I have passion for art in all its forms hence my involvement in this portal.

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