"The rustle of black veil against bright brocade, shlokas chanted alongside an Asha Bhosle number -- Mumbai seems to me like the glamourous Goddess Laxmi.

This city is like a fashion model," says Anita Ratnam. An apt description for someone who weaves together strands of pauranic myth, history, grandma's stories with modern thought to explore the concept of the 'divine feminine.' As Laxmi Poojan approaches, the Chennai-based dance actor -- who was in town to present 'Her and Bliss,' a neo-classical-contemporary performance at the Jnanapravaha institute - talks to CS:

Laxmi logic
Through my narratives, I want to show how intelligent, fiery and wilful our goddesses like Laxmi, Saraswati and Parvati were and how they changed the course of our mythology or how our saint poetesses like Meerabai, Andal resisted patriarchy to choose God as a lover.

Today Aishwarya Rai is a goddess for us; Jayalalitha 'Amma' is a goddess and so is Mata Amritanandmayi; people in UP worship an English goddess -- even contemporary culture attributes divinity to important women and it all comes from our mythology.  
  
Myth making
As a dancer, I try to link traditional stories with modern ideas to reach out to the younger generation, which is missing out on all the richness of thought in our culture. We are called Shweta or Rajlaxmi or Roma, but we don't know what those names stand for.

And yet we have been given that name so that we can imbibe some of that divine quality. We love going to a Halloween party, but not sit through a classical dance ballet. Our only source of stories is TV and that only teaches that women are witches. 

Feminine power
Women truly realise their own strength and perseverance only when there is a rupture in their smooth lives. Our mothers can only teach us what they know, but the truth is our lives are different from theirs. We have far more choices and exposure.

Women today need a strong support system. We need to learn to be sensitive colleagues and non-judgemental friends. Only women can empower other women; we can't change the world, but at least we can start with our own circle of friends.

Who: Anita Ratnam
What: Talks about woman power
Where: At a South Mumbai five-star hotel