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Ranga Puja in Kuchipudi

Ranga Puja is the opening propitiatory worship in dance. Ranga puja in Kuchipudi is the equivalent of alarippu in Bharatanatyam. It is a kind of salutation of the stage, the audience, and the teachers and elders. Here the dancer sprinkles water, offers incense and flowers, all through gestures. Then to remove evils, to protect living creatures, to please gods, to bring edification to spectators, welfare to the leader (of the nata group), to protect the dancing girl (herself), and to make the teaching of her preceptor fruitful, the dancing girl begins by offering flowers to gods.

It is simple item, which helps the dancer warm up, so that she can perform the more complicated items with ease. The dancer moves each part of her body, eyes, head, shoulders, hands by turn and then the whole body. It is performed as an introductory piece in a dance repertoire.

Every Kuchipudi dance performances opens with Ranga Puja (alarippu). The name is derived from the Telugu word, ‘Alarippu’ meaning to decorate with flowers. The dance is pure nritta offering in double and treble rhythms, there being absolute harmony of movement between the head, the hands and the feet. Hands joined above the head, feet touching, the dancer begins with recakas or neck movements, with the eyes and the hands acting in unison. The same recakas are later executed in a semi-seated posture, after which, rising, the dancer moves back to the starting position. Ranga Puja is the first dance item that a student learns. It is about the blooming of a lotus.

Following the Ranga Puja are other repertoires like – kautvamu, jatiswaram, sabdam, kirtam, ashtapadi, sivalila natyam, padam, javali, simhanandini, sloka, tillana, tarangam etc.