The art form connected to the glorious past of Kakatiya Dynasty is Perini Shivatandavam, a war dance originated during 10th century when Kakatiya dynasty was in supreme power reigning across Telangana state.
Historians record that Perini Shivatandavam is similar to the ferocious dance form practiced by the aborigines of New Zealand and America. Further, the popular Thousand Pillars Ramappa Temple situated in Warangal, dating back to 13th century houses several statues and figurines exhibiting dance styles and postures of Perini ShivaTandavam.
When the entire country was in the preparation mode for an upcoming war or battle, it was a regular ritual to host Perini Shivatandavam, a ferocious pre-war dance, performed by male artistes to attract blessings and guidance of Lord Shiva to grab victory in the war or to simply say, to seek “Prerna” from Lord Shiva.
A highly vibrant form of dance which requires agile male dancers who used to dance in King’s palace and in temples to upkeep the spirit of warriors marching for the war ahead. As Kakatiya Kings were staunch devotees of Lord Shiva, Perini Shivatandavam of much more religious significance in their reign. Most of the dancers performing this art form were from Vir Saiva cult.
As with the case of many traditional art forms, Perini Shivatandavam also met a steep downfall after the period of Kakatiyas. It is Padma Shri Nataraja Ramakrishna, who was a veteran in dance and temple traditions revived this divine art and he instituted a formal education for learning this form of dance in the name of Perini Institute at Warangal, which is nurturing the talents of hundreds of dancers even today.
Perini Shivatandavam is classified as a classical art form with loads of valour and fury and you can enjoy the vibrant and fast acrobatic movements in sync with the rhythmic music emanating from drum, conch, bells and fast changing Jathis(syllables), all glorifying Lord Shiva. The dancers are found with dhothis and adorned with ornaments around their neck, hand and anklets(Salangai).
It is interesting to know about the variant of Perini Shivatandavam as Perini Lasyam performed by female artistes with a graceful yet vibrant movements. To strengthen and spread this unique art form, the Government of Telangana has recognized this as its state dance and keeps Perini shivatandavam as an important event in the annual GoHeritage Warangal Run show.
It may be either you or me, watching Perini Shivatandavam is indeed a bliss!