As the five female dancers from the Indian-Christian fine art college of Kalai Kaviri encircle the South Indian brass lamp, or vilakku, awakening it to life with the flames from their own individual votives, the beginning melody of a song cues the women to stretch out their arms in preparation to rise from their seated positions and dance. As they raise their arms in unison, the light glinting off their bangles and gold threaded costumes, the Sanskrit words Om Bhur Bhuvah Svah signal the invocatory phrase of the popular Gayatri mantra chanted daily by many Hindus all over the world. By the time the second repetition of the mantra is completed, the bodies of the dancers are fanned out from behind a single dancer, creating the visual image of the sun with its rays beaming outwards to all directions of the universe.

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