“Drunk on Dhak” Performance Proposal

On January 19, 2013 by pampi

1. Proposal Intention:

 “Drunk on dhak” is a multi-media movement poem that reinterprets Devi (Hindu mother goddess) lore through movement, photography, and spoken poetry in order to explore the temple dancer as Devi’s vahana (her animal mount). The performance is framed as a contemporary devotional offering to Devi. The poem was inspired by the international news coverage of the horrific case of gang rape and murder in India that served to reveal only one of many daily incidences of sexual violence against the women of India. The prayer calls on Devi to manifest herself as the warrior goddess and reclaim respect for the divine feminine through the body of her female devotee.

Images above are preliminary story-telling shots for this piece.

Based on the original poem of the same title by Pampi – Take a listen <HERE>

I’m drunk on dhak, Ma
Been playing it all day

I know you just left us
I know it is inauspicious to call you back

I have no blue lotus eyes to offer you
Only my tiny body, whole and strong, as your steed
I can be your tigress
I have as much heart as the male lion you usually choose

I call on you, Ma
Choose me
I am ready to fight
With compassion
And when that does not work
With a cold hard swipe of my paw

Though rooted in Hindu mystical lore, the poem calls on universal notions of time-sensitivity; gender dynamics; fair-skin complex; and juxtaposes compassion versus violence; the mother versus the feminine divine.

Every year at harvest, Devi, accompanied by her vahana, a ferocious male lion, is called to descend by sounds of dhak (a type of drum). The only time in history that Devi is called successfully was when Rama (of the Ramayana), desperate for help to battle the demon king Ravana, faces calling Devi for strategic war counsel during a most inauspicious time. As it was an unusual time to call on her, he knew he must make an offering of a 1000 blue lotuses, especially rare after the harvest earth had turned barren. The fair Rama is able to collect only 999 – as he was about to gouge out his own blue eye as the ultimate 1000th flower, Devi descends.

In this piece, the dancer empowers herself by gently calling out the Devi on the choices She makes, informed by traditional lore. The dancer does this by acknowledging her dark-complexioned female-hood, thus claiming her own worthiness as the Devi’s vahana. The dancer explores her own autonomy as a tigress mount, upon first choosing Devi as her rider, and then calling on Devi to choose her. The dancer does not apologize for calling the Devi nor does she make dramatic offerings. The dancer calls Devi playing a lonely dhak and offering only herself as Her vehicle.







This image is a mockup of the temple dancer fantasizing her role as Devi’s vahana.

Technology and media: projector and screen, stereo sound feed

Performers: temple dancer Pampi and photographer Kristophe Diaz

Time: 12 minutes

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