The energetic flow of her inner Saraswati is enthralling. Gifted with an ancient wisdom of an Old Soul, Selsha is a Reiki Master, a dancer and a singer.
She grew up telling stories with her body, every limb uttering a different word and her eyes expressing love, grace, grief and anger. Her feet stomp in devotion to Siva while she dances the traditional dance of South India, the Bharatanatyam.
Hypnotic with its choreography and rich in exquisite costumes and accessories, Bharatanatyam is part of every Indian young woman’s rite of passage. “It’s so embedded within our culture that you barely know anyone who hasn’t learned the dance,” says Selsha. “Once your instructor decides that you are ready to perform in front of an audience, you get the bell anklets! They are usually handmade and, before you can wear them, they are placed in a temple in order to be blessed by the gods. The more advanced you are, the more bells you wear on your ankles!”
Selsha’s journey as a Bharatanatyam dancer has been a hard one. The ankle bells give away the dancer’s mistakes and when performing in temples with a whole orchestra, you risk making mistakes that can ruin the entire performance. “Performing was always so stressful because you need to think of each body part as separate while maintaining the flow. I still loved every bit of it! It’s beautiful and moving to watch. The dance transports the audience to different realms and as a dancer you feel the flow entering your body. At one point, you transcend.”
The classical dance, like many other traditional art forms, is slowly becoming endangered. “Not only Bharatanatyam but also Kata Kali are no longer understood even by the locals. Most people strive towards Westernisation and technology, thereby devaluing our cultural heritage. It’s devastating to witness. Technology is universally understood, it lacks a certain something that art has. Traditional art is different in every culture, it has its uniqueness. It carries passion, emotion and the ability to move the audience. Because the interest in traditional culture is decreasing, many performers are unemployed and these are dancers who have inherited their knowledge through generations of dance masters!”
When asked what it means to be a female artist in India, Selsha explains that female artists are placed on a pedestal; they are almost worshiped for their talents. Paradoxically, however, being a full-time artist professionally is considered to be a nuisance to your reputation as a woman.
“To be honest, I think that it is such a blessing to have the gift of being able to dance, to be an artist, to create and to make music. Whether man or woman we deserve all the respect of the world! Besides our world’s obsession with technology, we put too much importance into dry, dogmatic education. In schools, and I am sure any citizen of the world would agree with me, we merely learn things by heart and vomit information on sheet of paper. It’s ridiculous how much value is placed on a piece of paper that says that you completed a BA. What about all the creatives who work so hard in order to get some form of recognition from our society? Education is important indeed! But we don’t know anymore how to make it more efficient, more inspiring, progressive and most importantly inclusive. We need that touch of magic that comes naturally with the arts and creation.”
Selsha is also deeply passionate about music and the traditional instrument Veena is her all-time favourite sound. “I can listen to it any time, anywhere. I also love the violin and the melancholia of its sound.” The young Creatress is also a singer, Singing has been a part of her world more than any other art form so far. She uses her voice to centre herself, reconnect to herself and the present moment and to work through her feelings. Whether it is celebrating success or failure, Selsha celebrates it with singing. “I think it’s interesting how you can sing YOURSELF. If you try to sing your favourite song, your own individual voice, your feelings and personality will add something more to the song! You will project yourself into it and will create a fully new piece of music. It’s fascinating what our voices can do.”
Whenever I spend time with Selsha, time seems to stop and our surroundings to collapse. Our conversations flow from life to death. We enter that space of eternal flow, similar to that of a meditative state. “Dying is a crucial part of life. We become part of the earth once we die! I keep reminding myself that eventually, everyone will go. Being aware of this is empowering but at the same time it is everything but. Whenever I think of my mother who recently left this world, I think that she is part of the universal energy now. She is travelling with me,” says Selsha with an illuminating smile. The young woman’s approach to loss is inspiring and empowering. Her strength and courage: invincible.
When she was only ten, a Reiki master saw Selsha as a “special child” and taught her Reiki straight away. “I never believed in Reiki at first. I was brought up in a rather agnostic family so there was no talk of exterior power. I laughed at first when I heard of Reiki and wondered how can HANDS heal? Now, with all the experience that I’ve gained, I cannot even explain. Energy does heal! My father, who is a Reiki master himself, sees clients and has cured many illnesses. To be honest once you learn Reiki, you don’t even need to practice it. It flows through you naturally. Whenever there is a tense energy in the room I can feel it in my hands. They start to burn.”
The Creatress has a BA in Media from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, the university was established by the Indian spiritual leader Amma. For the time being, Selsha is completing a Postgraduate degree in Media and Communication at Kingston University after moving to London in September 2017. “I really wanted to experience something different from my hometown Kerala. I wanted to meet new people and learn from a different culture. I moved to London without expectation but filled with curiosity. The day I arrived, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel like I left anything behind to be honest. It was pretty easy, probably because London is so multicultural.”
Selsha feels a homely connection to London and does not want to leave any time soon, even though the culture and language are different. The young woman is open to any culture and any new form of adventure. Her plan is to travel to as many countries as possible. “People shouldn’t limit themselves as much. Every culture, every view and every religion CAN teach you something. Limiting yourself to just one thing is toxic and it disconnects you from people. We are on this planet to connect and to share valuable experiences. Being open to anyone of any background is the most important thing nowadays. This is what I call freedom; being able to understand and accept others with ease.”
Besides travelling around the world as a journalist, Selsha has many fascinating plans that she wants to execute in the near future. “I want to open a place, a centre where all the marginalised people in India can live in and connect with one another. Orphans, old people, the homeless and the disabled, living and sharing their passions. These are people who have it the worst in India, especially those who are cast bound. Having them all in the same place makes it easier for everyone to reconnect to different aspects of themselves while living together as a community.”
To me, the young Creatress’ strongest power is probably the alluring vibe and glowing eyes of the Goddess Ganga that pierce through the innermost of your being and cleanse every wound of your soul.