Kaman Pandigai, also known as Kamandi dance is a popular folk dance belonging to the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The state is famous for its tribal dance and cultural activities passed on from generations. The folk culture of Tamil Nadu is much revered and beloved at home and abroad. All the major arts and entertainment in the state are broadly classified into three groups like Iyal ( Literature ), Isai ( Music ) and Nadagam ( Drama ) which is said to have originated from Theru Koothu or Street Play. All forms of folk art have said to be derived from either of these sources.
Folk dance is a major mode of entertainment in the state of Tamil Nadu and the popular ones include Bharathanatyam, Devaraattam, Theru Koothu, Kol Kal attam, Chakkai Attam, Kamandi or Kaman Pandigai, Kai Silambu Attam etc.
Dances are expressive ways of depicting the devotion to their respected gods and goddesses worshipped in the community and these religious folk dances are very common cultural celebration in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Kamandi or Kaman Pandigai is one such devotional dance form enacted to reiterate Kama-Dahana or the event of incineration of Kamadeva, the Hindu deity of love.
The exotic Kamandi or Kaman Pandigai dance has originated from the mythical stories of Purana. According to Purana, the god of love ‘Manmada’ or Kamadeva was burnt to ashes by the third eye of a furious Lord Shiva who was in deep penance at the time. Legend has it, so strong was Lord Shiva’s atonement, that even the celestial gods were unable to break it. The gods, nervous and afraid of his rage, sought the assistance of Parvati who in turn endorsed Kamadeva or Cupid of Hindu god to aim and shoot his flower arrows towards the meditating Shiva to wake him up from his yoga. Kamadeva hit Lord Shiva with his arrows with Parvati’s consent. An angry Shiva woke up and looked at Kamadeva with his third eye which burnt the love god to ashes. This tale of Purana is celebrated in form of Kamandi dance which is held during the auspicious eve of Maha Shivaratri.
Music, Movement & Style
Kamandi dance comprises of two separate characters: Kaman and Rati. Two groups perform this delightful dance revolving around the mythical tale of Shiva and Manmada or Manmatha. The duo is called ‘Erintha katchi’ and ‘Eriyatha katchi’ respectively. One party argues that Manmada or Kamadeva was not vanquished while the other stresses that the god of love was burnt. The main protagonists Kaman and Rati are dressed in gorgeous colorful attire to perform the spectacular dance of Kamandi. The ecstatic movements and style of the dance is a visual treat and the rural dancers perform this dance with much enthusiasm and gusto. The dance is popular event in some urban areas of the state as well where people perform this dance during cultural festivities and events. The colorful villagers and performers showcasing rhythmic movement and alluring music make the dance an exotic extravaganza of the spring season. The dancers stand out with their glittering costumes which they wear during Kamandi performance. The dance is enacted during shows in the state of Tamil Nadu as part of the entertainment.
Beautiful, ornate jewelry and enchanting costume play a very important role in the dance performance as the villagers decorate themselves with colorful attires and shiny ornaments while they debate on issues of Puranic legends enacting the Kamandi dance performance. The dancers exhibit exceptional skill level in order to bring the characters of Kamdeva and Rati come alive as the enactment continues to mesmerize the audience with its colorful depiction of the Puranic stories of ancient times.