Yakshagana…Makkala Mela, Saligrama

Yesterday I went to attend the Yakshagana performance by child artistes, which I had posted about earlier. The program was held at the Ragigudda Anjaneya Temple. There was quite a good crowd, and I was impressed by the dance and dramatic prowess of these children. My friend Anush, who hails from Mangalore, informs me that these children are probably children of professional Yakshagana artistes.

The story being presented yesterday was from the Mahabharata , being that of Babruvahana , the son of Arjuna and Chitrangada. Chitrangada is also a musical opera written by Rabindranath Tagore .

There was quite a large audience present, and we soon had the Sutradhar, or the narrator, on the stage:

Yakshagana 1

The colourful costumes and make-up add to the eye appeal of the folk theatre.

In this picture the supporting musicians, wearing red turbans, can also be seen, with two different types of drums and two singers as well.

Arjuna then appeared, and here is a dramatic moment:

Dramatic pose, Yakshagana, Ragigudda Temple, 22 May 07

Chtirangada appeared a little later with her Sakhis, and on beholding Arjuna, fell in love with him.Here she is, with her Sakhis, or companions:

Yakshagana, 22 May 07, Ragigudda Temple

There were elements of dance, drama, and music all intertwined, and the performace was lovely to watch. As we went around the outside of the hall full of people to see if we could get a couple of shots from the sidelines, we saw this priest from the temple who had been drawn to the show, and was watching, enthralled:

Temple Priest watching Yakshagana from outside

Note the dress of the priest himself; he wears the traditonal “pancha kacha” (Pancha gaja, meaning, five yards, refers to the length of cloth that makes up the dhoti he is wearing) and the upper cloth. Once, before the British brought in shirts and trousers as we know it, this was the comfortable cotton costume, with no stitching required, that men wore!

The mosquitoes, alas, drove us away from the performance and I was wondering about the economics of these shows. I was told that professional groups charge Rs.25, 000/- for several nights of shows together,and this is then divided between the artistes, make-up men, etc. Many boys act the part of the girls; and this children’s troupe has been specially trained to keep this folk theatre alive in a world of television and CD’s!

Click on the name of Babruvahana for the fascinating mythological story, which comes to Karnataka from distant Manipur!

2 Comments so far

  1. deepa (unregistered) on May 24th, 2007 @ 1:07 pm

    hey deepa
    That was wonderful! I really admire these ancient folk arts of India and i wish I could contribute something to them!I dont really know where these shows/performances take place in Bangalore,but would be happy to attend!
    Reminds me of Kathakali ,( i recently read a book by Anitha nair “Mistress”which gives us an insight into this wonderful Kerala art-form) and I would love to see a performance.

  2. Thejesh GN (unregistered) on May 25th, 2007 @ 8:18 am

    Nice pics… thanks for the coverage

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