Dance in the Liturgy

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From: prabhu To: Austine J. Crasta; RUPERT VAZ; Rohit D'Souza Sent: Monday, December 27, 2010 6:34 PM

Subject: LITURGICAL DANCING/BHARATANATYAM BCC: Deepak Ferrao and eight other members

Dear Austine,

I am writing an article on the above subject.

In my records, I found that there was a pro-Bharatanatyam post that you, as moderator, permitted five years ago.

I copy here the relevant portion from the draft of my report. In case you have changed your mind and now believe that this Hindu dance cannot be included in the Liturgy, I would be pleased to have your statement. Love, Michael NO RESPONSE
In respect of the comments of Most Rev. Peter John Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, see page 17, Deepak Ferrao’s concerns raise very pertinent questions.

What are the more popular dance forms in India? Are they INDIAN or HINDU? Who perform them? Do Catholics use them or promote them in the Eucharistic Liturgy or otherwise? If “yes”, who are they, and what are the backgrounds, associations, religious beliefs and motives of these Catholics?

I would like to sub-title this article as Bharatanatyam-I. That is because I intend to write Bharatanatyam-II. Why single out Bharatanatyam? There are seven classic “Indian dance” forms.

Of them, Bharatanatyam leads the pack. One will find more Catholics involved in this dance form than in all the others put together.

In this first part, my intention is to demonstrate that Bharatanatyam is not an “Indian” art form but is originally a Hindu temple dance, that Catholics who dance it and promote it are seriously compromised in their Catholic Faith, that it has been introduced into the Indian church and into the Liturgy of the Holy Mass, that the Bishops themselves, and institutions founded or funded by them, are responsible for this, and that Catholic priests themselves are exponents of Hindu dance.

In examining the above issues, I will avoid submitting any evidence from secular or Hindu religious sources that show that Bharatanatyam is Hindu to its core. I leave that to part II. Instead, we will see that Catholics exponents themselves admit that one cannot separate Bharatanatyam dance from its Hindu religious affiliations as well as other Hindu/New Age practices like yoga.

This dance form is spelt variously as Bharatanatyam, the spelling of my preference, Bharata Natyam, Bharathanatyam, Bharatnatyam, etc.

Because I quote from certain sources, it does not mean that I approve of them. Neither does it mean that I recommend their sites. The URLs/links are provided by me solely for documentation.

I include pictures from a number of Traditionalist authors/web sites in this study because they are the main source of evidence of such abuses in the Liturgy of the Mass. The pre-Vatican Council II or Tridentine Latin Rite Masses provided absolutely no scope for such aberrations. Traditionalist writings endeavour to show that after the Conciliar reforms opened the doors to 'aggiornamento', innovation in and experimentation with the Liturgy of the Novus Ordo Mass -- which was neither the intention nor the spirit of the Council -- led to these abuses.

Unfortunately, the Traditionalists do not admit to the latter, while the Bishops fail to check -- and Rome is exceedingly slow to condemn --the former. 19.

As we saw above with Deepak Ferrao’s question, there is a lot of confusion in the minds of Catholic laity about the use of “Indian” dancing in the Church.

In 2007, I had been to the Holy Land on pilgrimage [separate report to be published]. I was compulsorily subjected by my parish priests to attending a Nile cruise that treated me to a female belly-dance and I wrote about this obnoxious “pilgrimage” experience in Konkani Catholics [KC].

My post was objected to by some members, including a few priests. The owner-moderator finally took sides against me in the debate in which I found many sympathizers including another moderator. This was one of the criticisms leveled at me by a KC member, Edwin Coutinho:
From: "Austine J. Crasta" <> To: "prabhu" <>

Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 5:51 PM Subject: Fw: [KonkaniCatholics] Re: A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

From: "edwin coutinho" To: <> Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 5:31 PM
Subject: Re: [KonkaniCatholics] Re: A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land EXTRACT
Hello everyone
I have been following this interesting debate on this website for quite a while right now and it is very interesting to see how people have been reacting to one situation. Looks like this situation has divided the community right from the middle to either pro or against the report that Prabhu wishes to make public. However, I am right now taking a more neutral view…
4. Regarding the belly dancing on the Nile cruise, I do not know how 'indecent' it was but belly dancing is an art form and that is how one should look at it. It is not greatly different from our own Bharatnatyam or jiving and waltzing which most of us do not seem to have a problem with because these are in tune with our culture. Mind you, we use Bharatnatyam in churches to welcome priests, etc during high masses.

However, belly dancing at times may cross the line and yet, it does not give one a reason to be condescending… Edwin C

Edwin Coutinho’s letter was not only forwarded to me by the owner-moderator Austine Crasta without a comment, but it was also posted in the Forum, digest no. 1240 of October 11, 2007.

It seems that Edwin Coutinho has a greater problem with belly-dancing than with Bharatanatyam.

As on the previous page, I wrote a second letter in December 2010 to the moderators of Konkani Catholics concerning the October 2007 post in the forum, but I did not receive a response

From: prabhu To: Austine J. Crasta; Rohit D'Souza; RUPERT VAZ Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 4:27 PM

Subject: LITURGICAL DANCING/BHARATANATYAM – 2 BCC: to twenty members of Konkani Catholics

Dear Austine,

Further to my letter of yesterday evening to which I have yet to receive your response, I found one more bit of information on the subject of Bharatnatyam dancing which Edwin Coutinho posted in KC on October 10, 2007, and which you took great care to forward directly to me even before it was received through yahoo in the digest format which I was subscribed to. […] The contents of this one have your complete approval because you personally forwarded it to me.

In December 2005, you permitted one member to say that if Bharatanatyam dancing was incorporated in the liturgy, the Mass would be more meaningful. Almost two years later, Coutinho equates belly dancing with the Hindu temple dance, finds the latter to be in tune with Indian culture and boasts that "we use Bharatnatyam in churches to welcome priests, etc during high masses". If you believed that there was error in those statements or clarifications had to be made, you would have done so. Since you didn't moderate Edwin's letter -- how could you when you sent it to me within minutes and then permitted it to be posted in the KC forum, thus teaching error and misguiding hundreds of members -- can I take it to mean that you still endorse the inclusion of dancing, including Bharatanatyam, in the Liturgy? …Love, Michael

Here is a discussion that took place in another forum, “Catholic Priests”; it so happens that both writers are my good friends: JP is in fulltime Catholic ministry and BR designed my masthead

Subject: Indian Classical Dancing

Date: Thurs, Nov 15 2007 4:19 am From: JP [Delhi]
Would anyone like to comment on whether it is right for Catholics to be doing Indian classical dances? A whole lot of Catholic girls perform Bharatanatyam and Kathak. There used to be a priest in Mumbai who was a Bharatanatyam dancer. Most Indian classical dances sing praises of Hindu Gods but it does not seem to bother anyone. JP

In, BR [Chennai] wrote:

In the strictest of senses and relevance, the answer to your question is a big NO!! The principal reason for this is that Bharathanatyam is a form of classical dance which, as you rightly said, is performed in praise of a Hindu deity - chiefly, Lord Shiva, who is supposedly the founder and mentor of this form of dance.
Hence, Christians who practice this form of dance can just never get away with the alibi of saying that this is merely for exercise, body toning and so on.  The dancer HAS TO CONSCIENTIOUSLY PAY OBEISANCE TO SHIVA BEFORE HE OR SHE CAN COMMENCE A PARTICULAR TRAIT OF DANCE, A MUDRA OR AN ALARIPPU.
How can one ward this off by saying this is just dancing like tap or bolero or ballet or disco? The picture is very clear!!! BR
Date: Sun, Nov 18 2007 9:43 pm From: JP

Thank you so much. I am glad that there is at least one person who feels the same as I do. But I have seen an Orthodox bishop and some Catholic priests encouraging these arts in their parishes. And it is not out of any lack of knowledge... 20.

Some justify Catholics learning these dances by saying that if we have to "purify" the idolatrous Indian culture, we have to learn these art forms and then turn them into dances that speak of Christ. That is a very noble thought indeed, but one which usually never happens. Actually, even Carnatic music has numerous references of and praises to various Hindu Gods. I am really concerned about this issue since I constantly meet youngsters in Catholic schools and colleges who are studying Indian art forms. At a time when a lot of Westerners are turning to the East and are especially attracted to our dance and music, it is really challenging to tell our youth to stay away from all this. Do let me know if any of you are dealing with similar issues and how you tackle them? JP
Lay Catholics have been bringing up this topic with me ever since I started my ministry. A friend informs about a priest trying to promote Bharatanatyam at a charismatic programme in Chennai:

From: Name Withheld To: prabhu Sent: Friday, October 21, 2005 2:26 PM Subject: Re: BHARATANATYAM

Hi Mike Yes that's the programme alright, now I vaguely remember! Did my best to get the card/poster, but everyone seem to have thrown it away, sorry! This person suddenly came backstage to have this programme announced. He came there along with two Jesus Youth full-timers. When this person introduced himself to me as a priest and showed me the card and poster, I understood what this was about and slowly walked away. EDITED

From: Name Withheld To: prabhu Sent: Friday, October 28, 2005 5:07 PM Subject: Re: BHARATANATYAM

Fr. Saju George, he's not involved with Youth Service Team, I'm sure! The other priest is Fr. Laurance, he was in Loyola College, now he's in Satya Nilayam [Jesuit seminary in Chennai] I think... EDITED

Apparently, Fr. Saju George, see pages 67-76, tried to push Bharatanatyam at a charismatic rally!

I seem to have lost my side of the correspondence with Name Withheld.

Now, here’s an indication of what Bharatanatyam can do to Catholics:

From: Name Withheld To: prabhu Sent: Friday, January 20, 2006 10:57 AM Subject: RE: REPLY JAN 06

In one of the school retreats, I saw my first deliverance case* also. She started dancing bharatnatyam in the middle of the infilling [of the Holy Spirit] session, poor girl! *See page 19 From: Name Withheld To: prabhu Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 11:34 AM Subject: RE: REPLY JAN 06

When that bharatnatyam announcement took place, I took it up strongly with the Youth Service Team. But then I realised they did it more out of ignorance than anything else. When that deliverance case happened soon afterwards, it only vindicated what I had told them and then they realised. So I am confident they will be more careful in future. EDITED

From: Name Withheld To: prabhu Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2006 9:25 AM Subject: RE: BHARATANATYAM

[Enclosed information on Fr. Saju George SJ., and photographs of Fr. Francis Barboza SVD., Bharatanatyam dancers]

Catholic institutions and priests who were or are promoters or exponents of Bharatanatyam dance:

1. Fr. Jerry Sequeira SVD. This priest of the Society of the Divine Word received an award from the Government of India in recognition of his proficiency in Bharatanatyam. After a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, he abjured the dance and returned the award saying that Bharatanatyam dance is incompatible with the Christian life. He founded a charismatic retreat centre near Mangalore.

See also pages 19, 142, 143.
A 1994 UCAN report mentions a Fr. Jerry D’Souza, again an SVD priest, as having trained in folk dance. The report is no longer accessible on the Internet. No other information about this priest could be located. My enquiries reveal that UCAN might have mistaken Fr. Jerry D’Souza SVD, a Bombay priest who has no connection with music or dance for Fr. Jerry Sequeira SVD.

Priest-Dancer Promotes Body as Medium of Evangelization February 2, 1994

VIJAYAWADA, India (UCAN) -- Divine Word Father Jerry D'Souza evangelizes through dance. "The easiest way to drive home the message is through audio-visual media," he asserts. As part of his six-year training in "Janapada" (folklore dance), Father D'Souza, 30, performed last Dec. 20 in Vijayawada, southern India, where the priest and his troupe enacted a Gospel scene. "People see Gospel events taking place before them and the impression remains," he told UCA News. Asked how they react to a dancing priest, Father D'Souza said they welcome him.

"In the present media age, we have to use local culture to present Christian themes to be effective among non-Christians," he explained, adding that people are attracted to messages such as Jesus the healer, savior or peacemaker.

Father D'Souza justifies his ministry as not so unique by noting Divine Word Father Francis Barboza* has done well in the same field. "His ministry is effective and our congregation wants others to follow his example," he said.*See page 22

He enjoys support and encouragement from his superiors and congregation, and at the performance here, Bishop Joseph Thumma of Vijayawada lauded such steps to spread Christian themes in local culture to villagers and the illiterate.

"I felt as though I was participating in a prayer service," Pulivedi Ramu, a Hindu, commented on the dance in which Father D'Souza projected Jesus as peacemaker, first by creating a scene with people indulging in violence.

The dancer-priest, dressed as Jesus, then entered the scene, extended his hands, smiled and said calmly, "Peace be with you." Touched by the divine presence the fighters stop their violence. The need for peace in a violent society was presented by symbolic swords and burning lamps. Sword dancers symbolized anger, hatred and enmity. Then dancers dressed in white entered, with burning lamps in their hands, surrounding the fighters. Their graceful movement and joy accompanied by an appropriate song, gradually made fighters surrender and join the peacemakers. Peace was symbolized when the fighters leaned on each other and peacemakers supported them from all sides in a different dance pose. 21.

2. Fr. Francis Barboza SVD and the SVD’s Gyan Ashram*, Atma Darshan, Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Fr. Jerry D’Souza SVD describes Fr. Francis Barboza’s “ministry” as being “effective” in evangelization through dance and tells UCAN that it has inspired the SVD congregation to follow Barboza’s example. Let us examine Fr. Francis Barboza’s “ministry”. *see also pages 37 - 42

Gyan Ashram is an institution run by the fathers of the Society of the Divine Word [SVD].
1. Destruction of Catholicism in India EXTRACT

Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of attending an "Anticipated Mass" at a Jesuit Parish in Bombay where Father Charles Vas S.V.D.** performed a Pagan Liturgical Dance in front of the altar in a semi-naked state aka "Bharat Natyam Style" on the Second Saturday in August 2005. He has been actively encouraged in this gross paganism by an infamous fellow Divine Word Priest Dr. Francis Barboza S.V.D. who is now resident in the United States and dances in a semi- naked state before the altar in a number of Catholic churches in the states of New York and New Jersey where he currently is based and promotes this evil nonsense.

He has a web site to boot namely – For crying out loud will some one tell me whether he is a male, a female, or what? You will be definitely shocked to see what he does as I was when I accessed that web site.
I just cannot understand this. Why doesn’t some orthodox Catholic Bishop, Archbishop, or the Pope do something about this? They could easily excommunicate these heretic priests after pulling them up if they still do not mend their ways.

Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 11:40:12 PM by MILESJESU

I agree that all Indian Catholic Priests are not raving liberals and heretics such as Dr. Father Francis Barboza S.V.D., Father Charles Vas S.V.D.** and many others. It really depends where their Seminary Formation took place. If they were in a Seminary with orthodox Catholic Professors and Bishops then the likelihood of being indoctrinated with this crap is negligible but if they were at the Papal Seminary*** in Pune -- then who knows what they have been taught. That Seminary to me seems to be Satan's own home especially with the crap the Priests have been teaching, promoting, and endorsing there. By the way, do not be shocked at what you have seen. What you see is what you get. By that I mean, he really does that stuff in Catholic Churches in India whenever he visits India. He is also known to engage in such Pagan Dances in Catholic Churches in Germany and in the United States where he is based. He desperately needs our prayers in this regard as he is training a large number of young Indian priests to do this crap. That means he is just poisoning a lot of priests of the younger generation.

Posted on Friday, December 16, 2005 12:32:24 AM by MILESJESU

**See pages 37 - 42

2. /




Dr. Francis Barboza,   23 Falmouth Road, Iselin, 08830 NJ. USA   
Tel: (1)-(732) 636-1651 e-mail:



Email addresses:;;  


B. Ph. (Bachelor of Philosophy), Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Poona 1972

M.A. (Master of Arts) M.S. University of Baroda. Baroda 1974
B. Th. (Bachelor of Theology) Jnana Vidyapeeth, Poona 1977
B. Mus. (Dance: Bharata Natyam) M.S. University of Baroda, Baroda 1979
M. Mus. (Dance: Bharata Natyam) M. S. University of Baroda, Baroda 1981  
U.G.C. (Govt. of India) Research Scholarship, 1982

Director, from 1987 - Institute of Performing Arts, 
Gyan Ashram, Mahakali Road, Andheri (east) Mumbai 400 093 
Teaching dance since 1981 

Dr. Barboza in a performance with his troupe  

5. The roots of Christianity in India by Supriya Sharma, Radhika Bordia EXTRACT

November 03, 2008 (Kollam)

One such example is Raul D'Souza* who plays Krishna in classical ballets and also uses the language of Bharatnatyam for Christian themes.

"I was initiated into the traditional art form of Bharatnatyam by Guru Dr Fransic Burbosa [sic] who was a dancer priest. He was one of the first priest to learn the Bharatnatyam from MS University, Baroda. The story I am going to present is taken from the Book of Genesis, the story of man, the creation of man the highest creature. God mixes water and mud, makes an image of man and God blows life into it. Adam comes to life, walks in the garden of Eden, for his hunger plucks fruits to eat, for his thirst he drinks water. But he feels alone and lonely on earth," said Raul. *See pages 86, 91

6. Christianity in Indian Dance Forms by Francis Peter Barboza, 1990, Sri Satguru Publications, New Delhi EXTRACTS/INFORMATION FROM THE BOOK

At his performance in Belgium, a huge OM symbol is on the screen in the backdrop.

Comment from the magazine, The Laity: "It is nauseating to think that a young Catholic priest could not find any other way to keep himself busy…than in an art form like Bharatanatyam." [Christianity in Indian Dance Forms page 210].

He first toured Europe in 1983, with performances at several cathedrals. 22 out of 46 performances in temples were at the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. In 1985, he was one of the main attractions at the Natyanjali Festival at the Chidambaram temple. On 7 September 1984, "more than a lakh of pilgrims" attended his dance recital at the National Shrine of Our Lady, the Cathedral in Vailankanni.


"Dashavatara" A Ballet based on the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu

"In the Name of All Gods" Recital on major Religions of the World 


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