On Saturday evening, we travelled to Thanjavur's Big Temple, its outer gopura darkening in the chill evening.
Lines and lines of school students trooped out; this is the school picnic salon. They call these educational tours!
Music floated all around us.
Brahanatyanjali has probably the best platform in India. Dancers perform bellow the stone pedestal of the giant Nandi; on go-uja morning at Pongal time we had seen a Nandi dressed in vegetables and fruits! What a sight that was!
Today, the Nandi kept to herself; its ears taking in the live music as dancers from Mumbai ( Padmini Radhakrishnan's students) and Delhi ( sishyas of Kanaka Sudhakar) took turns to pay their tribute to the Lord at Sivaratri time.
Some 400 people either sat or stood around the platform, in darkness. Most stopped by for about 10 minutes and then walked on.
Nowadays, the dancers' groups are big. This is their picnic out!
We met the Delhi dancers backstage where an efficient team served water, sundal and ginger tea to artistes and guests.
They would zip to Kumbakonam's Sri Kumbeswarar Temple, drive down to Mahabalipuram, look around and catch a 1.30 p.m. flight from Chennai.
What a life Natyanjali offers to artistes!
When the clock struck 9, the 100-strong crowd inched closer. A group from Chennai's Nanganallur ( sishyas of Lata Aravindan) was presenting a bit of a dance-drama and the costumes and the storyline was getting much attention.
Held over five evenings ( 9.30 p.m. is shutdown time here), the Brahanatyanjali could do with a much bigger audience.