Two Sisters: Bhavam and Katha

Centuries ago an evil demon kidnapped twin sisters from their widowed mother because she wouldn’t return his love. In order that she would never find them again, he left the one in North India and the other in South India, Tamil Nandu, with strangers, whom he thought would kill them. The strangers however fell in love with the girls and adopted them as their own. The one sister from Tamil Nandu was named Bhavam, which means expression as the little girl always serious and expressed her emotions through her face and the other sister from North India was named Katha as she was always telling tall tales.

Both sisters were very different though. Bhavam, who was raised in a strict religious home, worshipped the gods in her dance and was a meticulous and disciplined dancer. Katha, raised in a less strict home was very mischievous and naughty. She too though worshipped the gods in dance but would frequently forget her steps and then just make her own up as the music played. Bhavam desired only to maintain her family’s good name by being a good daughter and the gods appreciated her soulful dancing and blessed her parents because of her. Katha however gave her parents many headaches, abandoning their rules as she saw fit and thoroughly entertained and annoyed the gods with her reckless ways. Their mother however never forgot about her daughters and searched for them relentlessly. Seeing her pain, gods eventually managed to convince the demon to reveals the girls’ whereabouts by tricking him with promises of great riches. The daughters were returned to their mother but sadly they didn’t like her or each other. Too much time had passed and neither could speak the other’s language. The playful Katha found Bhavam too boring and Bhavam couldn’t handle the energetic Katha. Their mother’s dream of reuniting with her daughters were crushed and she wept bitterly at her ill-fate. But, a very poor pedlar, who had loved their mother all his life, couldn’t bear to see her cry and he started playing his Tabla, just had he’d done when she was pregnant with the girls. Immediately both girls started moving their feet, as if magic. Bhavam moved to dance steps carefully thought out and was graceful as she danced to the music, while Katha just made up the steps as she went along, but was equally graceful. And it was in their dancing that they started to smile and play together. Every day they would wake up and dance to the pedlar’s drum, learning each other’s ways and their love for each other grew. When it was finally time for them to go home the sisters cried bitterly but made a vow that they would never remain apart again. Their love for their mother grew and eventually she and the pedlar married in their old age. While the girls and their mother forgave the evil demon, the gods sentenced him to eternally sit and watch the girls dance and live happy lives. Bhavam would eventually become the mother of Bharatanatyam while Kathak, the mother of Kathak.

Today disciples of both dance forms are spread all across the world. Both dance forms celebrate love, light and victory of good over evil. And just like the sisters, both dances prove that our souls will never forget where it comes from and its only real goal in life is to bring joy to all who see it.

By Jacqueline Friedman


  1. NkunaNsovo says

    It is a nice short story.I love it.

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