Hi guys, do you remember me writing about Bhootha Kola? Well, I told you that there are three cultures. Today, I will write about the second culture, ‘Yakshagana’, the pride of Tulunadu .
Yakshagana, which means – ‘Yaksha’ – demigods and ‘gana’ – songs, is one of the best folk dances of Tulunadu.
Yakshagana [Tulu-Aata, Sanskrit-Yakshagana] is a traditional theatre form that combines dance, music, dialogues, costume, make-up and stage techniques in a unique form mainly found in Tulunadu. Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn.
Yakshagana was there from Madhvacharya’s period. Madhvacharya is the founder of the Astha Mathas of the temple town of Udupi. When Yakshagana is performed in an open theatre, it is called ‘Bayalata. When Yakshagana is performed in houses with minimum participants, it is called ‘Chikka Mela’.
In earlier days, when monsoon came, there was no entertainment like mobiles, television and computer which we have now. The only entertainment was Chikka Mela Yakshagana, which was, coming to houses and performing Yakshagana.
In Yakshagana, they perform based on mythological themes most of the time. For example, Devi Mahatme, Swarnadurge Mahatme, Kateelashwari Mahatme, Mahishasura vade, Sri Krishna Sudhanva Prasanga, Venkatesh Mahime, Shabharimale Mahatme, Sampoorna Ramayana,Dashavatara, Shani Mahatme. Etc.
There are two types of dance forms. Badaguthittu and Tenkutittu. Badaguthittu is famous in Uttara Kannada and Kundapura district. In this, the person who beats the Chende (a long drum) sits and beats it. Tenkatittu is famous in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. In Badaguthittum, the person who beats the chende stands and beats it. Their costume and dance is also different.
There are many melas of Yakshagana. Melas are the organizations which perform Yakshagana. Dharmasthala Mela, Sowkur Mela, Saligrama Mela, Perudooru Mela, Karnataka Mela, Siri Mela, Goola Garadi Saasthana Mela etc.
Once, I went to Devi Mahatme Yakshagana at Vishwanatha Temple, Katapady. There, the Yakshagana had not yet begun. I wanted to see the make – up, so my aunt and my mother took my brother and me to the green room . There the Chowki puja or Ganesh puja was about to begin. Chowki puja is the puja in which all the performers pray so that the program will be a great success. In this puja, they pray to Lord Ganesha before the Yakshagana. In the Yakshagana, streetsellers sell toys, ice-creams, groundnuts, churmuri etc. The Yakshagana is performed in Tulu and Kannada. After the Yakshagana, they do a puja called ‘mangalaarati’.
Some temples such as Dharmasthala, Kateel etc. are having their own melas to celebrate the fulfillment of the vow of their devotes. For example Kateel Temple has 6 teams of Yakshagana which perform Yakshagana at different places from November to May to fulfill the vow of their devotes. Devotes have to wait 4-5 years after booking their Yakshagana for ‘Devi Mahathme’ performance by Kateel Mela.
Now Yakshagana is commercialized with Tent Melas where the entrance is restricted with an entrance ticket and the performance will be held from dawn to dusk. Now old traditional Yakshagana form is changed with new adaptations. They have introduced social causes and themes in their Yakshagana to catch up with drama and cinemas. However as per my experience Yakshagana is one of the best folk dance cultures.
Shivram Karanth who got the Jnaanapeetha award, was a great choreographer of Yakshagana. He has passed away but his Yakshagana teaching techniques are remembered by the people till now.
I like Yakshagana because it tells us mythological stories in an interesting way. They also make some jokes in the Yakshagana, which makes the Yakshagana funny and interesting.
I get very scared watching the ‘Mahishasura Vade’ yakshagana because the demon ‘Mahishasura’ comes running from the other end of the road carrying one fat stick tied by cloth and burnt in each of the hands.
The Yakshagana costume is very heavy. The special Yakshagana crown is very heavy. They wear clothes on top of each other which makes the clothes heavy. The make up of the demons look very scary.
Altogether, I like Yakshagana very much.
Written by Milind, STD IV.