Navarathri is a Hindu festival, held over nine days with recitals of dance, song and music at temples, sabhas and homes. What is very fascinating here is that this festival is extremely similar to that of the Chinese Nine Emperor Gods Festival – normally celebrated by the Taoist community. This event fits into the festival as it is dedicated to the Arts and is active for the Indian communities in Kuala Lumpur and in smaller towns.
DATUK RAMLI IBRAHIM
When I heard Sutra Foundation presenting its performance during the Navarathri Festival this year, I quickly made sure that I have time to attend at least one of their performances held across various parts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. What’s even better to hear was that the Chairman and Choreographer of Sutra Foundation, Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, will be giving a performance himself. Usually, there would be 6 dance performance at each location, and the last would be done with Datuk Ramli Ibrahim. During this event, the dance will showcase young performers from Sutra Foundation’s Outreach Program and they are from Sg Choh, Kajang, Kuala Selangor and Kota Kinabalu. Only once a year, the participants under this program will be given a chance to show the world their newly learnt repertoires. This would give them exposure and an opportunity to experience the Indian dance culture.
I thought I was the only one excited and I expected to see only a small group of people gathering within the temple grounds. To my surprise, there was not enough car parks available and I had to park on the roadside instead. As you approach the temple, you could hear the people enjoy being lively with the blast of live traditional music. The festivities starts with a special song and dance, called Bhajan, performed by married women and young girls (devotional songs to bond) paying homage to the resident deities, Vishnu and his consort, Sri Lakshmi. They would dance in a circle around the Sri Lakshmi. In fact, all performance conducted that night always face Sri Lakshmi, and not the audience. They dress to their best in their traditional clothing to attend this festival.
The dance performance for each song is different in terms of rhythm and the way of the dance. As I watched one performance after another, I was in awe about how these young dancers remember the steps, and speed associated with each dance. I thought they remember these through repetition during practice. Not so according to Lohityaa Nagesh aged 13 and Harini Mathevan aged 10, below, from Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Tamil (SRKT) Kajang, whom I met after this event just outside the temple over my vegetarian dinner. They started learning to dance within the Outreach program just 3 years ago, and they practice at their school every Sunday. They would be at the event location at about 3 or 4 pm even though the performance starts at 9:30 pm. They said that one needs to understand by living and breathing the song as it is played. It means to feel the beat and rhythm of the story within the song. Now that makes sense, doesn’t it?
LOHITYAA NAGESH (AGE 13) & HARINI MATHEVAN (AGE 10)
a pair of young dancers from their school, SJKT Kajang
religious food offering for the devotees after worship
banana, raisins, cashews and almonds presented on a betel leaf
Now that the event is over, I feel famished and headed outside the compound of the temple for some Indian vegetarian food. There were several establishments selling traditional Indian meals and drinks that I have never heard of. Stepping outside the temple, the weather was cooling down from an otherwise hot humid evening and the first thing I had was a very refreshing iced lemonade with crushed mint leaves. As you take the drink in, it perks you up – the lemonade was not too tangy and its slightly sweeten. For dinner, I had the Kutchi Dabeli Burger out of curiosity, and it was quite tasty – a cursory check done over the internet reveals that this burger has quite a lengthy set of ingredients. It was so heavy that you could not hold it up like a normal burger. I had to ask for a spoon instead. Dessert? Never miss it! I had the Ice Gola. When you see an old woman queuing up to buy this dessert, you just got to have it.
The traditional vegetarian foods and drinks served here are only available beside the temple grounds during temple festive seasons, and not in their shops. So If you decide to get adventurous, head out tonight or tomorrow night toLakshmi Narayan Temple to feast on these goodies.
ICED LEMONADE WITH CRUSHED MINT LEAVES
a Maharashtra vegetarian fast food snack consisting of a deep fried mashed potato patty with coriander and spices accompanied with one whole chilli
a Gujarati-styled popular food served during festivals only
KUTCHI DABELI BURGER
a vegetarian burger originated from the Kutchi region of Gujarat
deep fried bread stuffed with potato filling, topped with onion and drenched in mint chutney
Similar to bhaha pau above except this is made of dhall
shaved iced shaped into an ice lolly and drenched with flavoured syrup
The photographs and video in the article taken using Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II with M.Zuiko Digital ED 12 – 50 mm f3.5-6.3 EZ, and saved on to PenDrive RocketXPro 128GB.
1st October 2016 – 10th October 2016
LAKSHMI NARAYAN TEMPLE
No. 26 Jalan Kasipillay
Off Jalan Ipoh
51200 Kuala Lumpur
TEL: +60 3-4041 2993
GPS COORDINATES: 3.174582 101.683284
No. 2 Persiaran Titiwangsa 3
53200 Kuala Lumpur
TEL: +60 3-4021 1092
GPS COORDINATES: 3.177964 101.702266