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Abu Dhabi: In an attempt to liven up community spirit post COVID-19, 102 Indian expat women recently performed a mega show of Kerala’s Thiruvathira dance in Abu Dhabi.

The ritualistic dance is widely performed during the Onam festival of Kerala. Organised as part of the Onam celebration of the community group MACS (Malayali-Arab Cultural Society), the event saw the participation of Indian women from states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The seating area in the auditorium at ISC was turned into the dance floor for the mega-Thiruvathira performance. Mothers from all walks of life took part in the nine-minute dance performance held at the Indian Social Centre.

The dancers were clad in the traditional costume of Malayali women mundum neryathum or settu-mundu, a two-piece off-white sari with golden border, paired with pink blouse. Jasmine flowers adorned their hair adding to the uniform look of the women moving in circles around a traditional lamp in a rhythmical fashion.

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First time in Abu Dhabi

“We believe this is the first time a mega Thiruvathira dance show by more than 100 participants took place,” said Pravitha Jayan, a dance teacher who helped with the choreography of the show.

“All the participants are mothers…either home makers or working in different professions. We wanted to bring back the lively spirit we all had before the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone was feeling a bit dull during the pandemic as we did not have any social gatherings or events.”

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The women were split in groups of 10. Twenty coordinators helped to organise multiple online practice sessions. The full group rehearsed twice in person before the actual event.

While some are trained dancers, majority of them are amateurs and it was the first public performance for a few. Around 25 nurses formed the highest group of participants from the same profession.

Prasobha Anoop, one of the nurses who participated in the dance, said she was excited to take part in the event along with her sister, Praseetha Prasad, who is also a nurse: “We, nurses, hardly get any platform to participate in cultural performances mainly because it is difficult for us to go for practice sessions. Since the rehearsal for this was mostly done online, we managed to take part and it was a big relief for us. All of us really enjoyed it.”