The characters of the Mahabharata have a timeless impact. The 13th annual Natyarangam festival in Chennai contained several episodes from Vyasa’s epic presented by Natyacharya Sri V.P. Dhananjayan "Bheeshmaachaarya", on the Mahabharata's grandfather figure.
Major incidents from Bheeshma's life are narrated through flashbacks by his grief-stricken mother, Ganga. She describes her son's death at the hands of the Sikhandi during the Kurukshetra War, then goes on into his birth, upbringing, and "unthinkable" vow that earns him the name "Bheeshma" from the gods. Dhananjayan uses the kathakali abhinaya in this presentation.
Episode 1 : After the opening Nritta-samaaraadhana in the raga Gangalahari, mother Ganga emerges from the waters with tears in her eyes to receive the oblations from the remaining Pandavas who are submerging her formidable son’s ashes and are performing the last rites. She wonders with pride and pain, “an invincible warrior felled with the help of the effeminate Shikhandi, a wrath unreasonably cast on him”
Episode 2 : On the birth of Devavrata: Breaking the promise given to Ganga, King Santanu prevents her from throwing their eighth child into the water. Yet, as promised to the king at this time, Ganga brings back the boy after equipping him with all scriptural studies and the art of warfare from the Parasurama.
Episode 3 : Knowing the cause of his father’s depression, Devavrata approaches the leader of the fisherfolk (Daasa) and requests him to give his daughter Satyavati in marriage to Santanu. To fulfill the demand of Daasa, Devavrata makes an extraordinary vow (pratigna) to remain celibate all his life according to his father's wish. The devas name him as “Bhishma” .
Episode 4 : Satyavati is brought by Bhishma to Hastinapura to marry Santanu who blesses him with a boon that he would embrace death at his own will.
Ganga’s lamentation : Sri Krishna consoles Ganga that the deaths of great men are glorious, for in truth, they are of immortal fame. She then feels comforted as her son has returned to her.