April 7, 2008
The South American country of Brazil is no doubt famous for its soccer, beaches, coffee, volleyball, carnival and those hot women who sashay the international modeling scene with aplomb. This former Portugese colony no doubt boasts of a unique and flamboyant culture of its own as its carnival festivities are famous across the world attracting thousands of people. Despite the distance that separates But Indian dance, yoga art and culture is finding its flavour in Brazil thanks to the efforts of a few Indian missionaries and other smitten Brazilians who have been instrumental in spreading Indian flavour in this coffee land.
Today about 5 million Brazilians are practicing regular yoga and several dance and art schools have mushroomed all over Brazil, says Fr Joachim Andrade, a Mangalorean Svd priest who has been working in Brazil for the last 17 years. “Major Hindu influence began in Brazil to be exact was in 1953, when yoga was taken by a French man, who took the Indian name as Shivananda, who started a yoga academy in one of the towns of Brazil. Later, many other forms have entered such as Hare Krishna Movement, Vedanta Philosophy, Indian classical music and finally Indian classical dance. The Brazilians got hooked to Indian music, vegetarianism, food and culture and there has been no stopping its popularity”, Fr Andrade declares.
Indian way of live has penetrated deeply among the people and some of the Brazilians have great admiration towards Indian culture. Many have ventured out to take a trip to India visiting several ashrams and gurus. They have taken back to Brazil a kind of Indian culture which has created a deep rooted impact among Brazilians.
This receptiveness among Brazilians prompted Fr Andrade to make a deeper study on the phenomenon of the diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil. Born in Vamada Padavu in Bantwal taluk, he joined seminary and was initiated to Bharathanatyam during his college days in Mysore. Fr Andrade gave a public stage entrance in Pune in 1991 in Bharathanatyam and left for Brazil in 1992 after his ordination. He continued his passion in Brazil and did his masters in Anthropology choosing the topic “Dance as a ritual: a case study of Indian Dance” for his dissertation. For his doctorate he chose the topic of “diffusion of Hinduism in Brazil and used Bharathanatyam as the medium for diffusion.
As Fr Andrade worked in southern part of Brazil where the church activity is mostly pastoral and was compelled to make a slight shift in his missionary work and concentrate on ecumenical as well as inter-religious dialogue activity. Because of his close involvement in inter-religious dialogue activities, he has been appointed as the coordinator of the Ecumenical and Inter-religious dialogue dimension of the arch diocese of Curitiba.
Responding to public enthusiasm Fr Andrade has opened an academy of dance in Brazil recently where Brazilians learn the Indian dance and propagate it to the Brazilian people. “My motive behind this is to utilize the art form to diffuse Christian themes and combine the art and spirituality to the Brazilian culture” he says modestly.
Recently his pupil Ivanilda Maria Moreira Da Silva, a yoga teacher for the last 20 year hailing from Curitiba in Brazil was in Mangalore to add perfection to her Bharatanatyam dance which she has been learning in Brazil from Fr Andrade for the last four years. Ivanilda spent two months at Sandesha College of Fine Arts fine-tuning her skills in Bharathanatyam and left back for Brazil with a promise to come back against next year with her 13 year old daughter Yane to learn more about Indian dance.
“I learnt the techniques and perfection of the movements of the Indian classical dance. I am greatly impressed by the visuals, the grace, the music and the expressions of Bharathanatyam. Having stayed here for two months and learning dance I feel dance comes from within and it is very satisfying to make the movements, articulations and gestures. It is made me what I am”, Ivanilda confesses.
Ivanilda came to be associated with yoga just by fluke. Her husband wanted to learn martial arts and yoga formed a part of martial arts. She had accompanied her husband to the university and when her husband got specialized in Martial arts Ivanilda got a tryst with yoga and since then as the cliché goes there has been no looking back for Ivanilda.
A few years back she was exposed to Indian dance and got enamored by it prompting her to join the academy as Fr Andrade’s student.
Apart from learning dance Ivanilda toured around Dakshina Kannada savouring Indian cuisine and the diverse culture of the land. A strict vegetarian she was fascinated by the colourful clothes people wear, and liked the six-yard wonder – the saree. She greatly relished the coastal cuisine especially the crunchy papads and the pickle. She left for Brazil last week with the promise to propagate Indian dance in the samba land.
No doubt Indian culture has crossed the seven shores to find routes in the distant land of Brazil. It only goes to prove that art and spirituality makes a great combo to make a striking impact.
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