Lasya, in the context of the Hindu mythology, is known as the soft and ‘Shringarik’ (to dress up, be erotic) dance performed by Goddess Parvati (Goddess Uma). The origination of this dance form was when Lord Shiva had killed the demon, ‘Tripurasur’ and danced in rage, also known as the ‘Tandava’. The tandava had vigorous and brisk movements giving the feeling of the whole world being in a process of destruction. In order to pacify and please Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati performed the Lasya in which the movements are gentle, graceful and sometimes erotic also.
Lasya is also known as the female version of the Tandava. There are three types of Lasya Nritya that are practiced today: ‘Vikat Lasya’, ‘Visham Lasya’, and ‘Laghu Lasya’. Vikat Lasya is a dance, which mainly revolves around the rhythms, and emotions of dance. Visham Lasya uses a special footwork and horizontal and slanted movements. Laghu Lasya is a dance where sounds are produced on the earth through the use of anklets, etc.
Instruments with soft sounds and a high brass quality are used like the ‘Manjira’, ‘Flute’, ‘Ghungroo’, ‘Madal’, ‘Khol’, ‘Tabala’, and ‘Thumburu’. As this dance is mostly performed by females, the costumes are shringarik and attractive. The costumes are usually Chunnatdar Dhoti, a broad Waist Bandh, and Patka. They also wear garlands of flowers in their hair and have bright or dark colors of Chunnis. They were pearls and flowers in their necks and hands.
This dance form flourished when Goddess Parvati taught this dance to Usha, the daughter of Daitya Bannasur. Usha popularized it in Vrindavan. The female performers were known as Devadasis who performed this dance in temples. These devadasis were accomplished artists who would sing, dance, and play many instruments. But this tradition came to an end as the devadasis lost their position in the society. Then dance entered the royal courts. Here the artists called Rajanartakis, performed in the courts of kings who gave them shelter. Even these were accomplished artists like devadasis.
Many of the Indian dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Mannipuri, Oddisi, Kuchupudi etc. owe their roots to Lasya.