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Girmitiyas hold on to ancient art form

From http://www.fijilive.com/fijimagic/daily/Terekuttu.htm

The Terekuttu (South Indian dance) was brought to Fiji by the Girmitiyas who came from Madras now known as Chennai in India under the indenture system during colonial rule.

The Terekuttu is a unique form of dancing in which the performers dressed in costumes of gods and goddesses act out specific scenes from the Hindu holy books of Ramayana and the Bhagwat Gita.

The performers have to be nimble on their feet and create different movements, which in Tamil is known as the Adaku.

The Terekuttu is very entertaining to watch and can keep crowds mesmerised throughout the night.

In Fiji the dance is done by various groups (consisting mostly of South Indians) based in various parts of the country that perform upon invitation.

The Terekuttu is performed in temples and auspicious Occasions such as weddings.

While there are a number of good Terekuttu groups in the Northern Division, the western side of the country is renown for having some of the best.

Every Terekuttu group has a master (Guru) who has an extensive knowledge of the Tamil language. He is the one who writes the drama.

He teaches the performers their roles and determines which types of costumes they wear and what dialogue they should use.

The master is looked up to and is largely respected by the group.

The Terekuttu is a religious activity and is treated in such regard. It demands unrelenting commitment from the performers are required to eat only vegetarian meals for four days before the dance.

All Terekuttu groups have comics (Baffuan) who entertain the crowd with jokes and hilarious actions usually at the expense of other performers.

Dance plays an important role in cultures around the world.

Dancing, rhythmic body movements performed by the dancer, is an art form serving as a form of communication and expression. People of different cultures dance differently and for various purposes.

Dancing reflects and outlines the culture of the people. It is in dancing that people recognise and understand this phenomenon.