Karnataka Art & Culture
is a treasure trove of ritualistic dances, all denoted by the generic term Kunitha.
Dollu Kunitha is a popular drum dance of Karnataka accompanied by singing. The
men of the shepherd community known as the Kuruba community perform the vigorous
drum dance. Powerful drumming, acrobatic movements and synchronised group formations
mark the dance. Drums are decorated with coloured cloth and slung around the
necks of the percussionists.Puja Kunitha is another dance, in which a wooden
structure with a deity is carried on the dancers heads.
Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yellammana Kunitha, Suggi Kunitha and others take their
name from the deity or the symbol or instruments which are balanced on the head
or held in the hand of the dancer. The Pata Kunitha (a dance by men carrying
tall bamboo poles decorated with coloured ribbons and crowned with a tiny silver
or brass umbrella), the Gorava Kunitha (a dance performed by men in a black
rug-like costume with fur caps and carrying percussion instruments and flutes)
and the Kamsale (originally a religious dance, performed by men with cymbals)
are some of the other common ritual dances.
The Mysore style of Bharatanatyam, which is the oldest and most popular form
of classical dance in India, is widely performed here. Other mainstream classical
dances here include Kuchipudi and Kathak.
with the devotion of Kanaka Dasa and Purandara Dasa, the music of Karnataka
flourished under the royal patronage of the Vijayanagar Empire and the Wodeyars.
Direct in descent in the Mysore Veena tradition are Veena Seshanna and Veena
Doreswamy Iyengar. T. Chowdiah, who gave the violin in Carnatic music a new
character altogether. Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjuna Mansur, Kumar
Gandharwa, Basavaraj Rajguru and Puttaraj Gavai are some of the illustrious
names in Karnatakas contribution to Hindustani music.
Shree Ramaseva Mandali
The Ramanavami celebrations herald the music season in the Garden City, when
music lovers are treated to a fare of traditional live music concerts at the
Fort School Grounds at Chamrajpet in south Bangalore. This annual
music festival is organised by Shree Ramaseva Mandali, founded by S. V. Narayanaswamy
Rao 60 years ago to celebrate Ramanavami with a series of concerts and dance
The Mandali has now become an inseperable part of Bangalores cultural
landscape, bringing together music maestros like Veena Doraiswamy Iyengar, T.
R. Mahaalingam, M. S. Subhalakshmi, Chemmagudi and K. J. Yesudas.
folk theatre art form popular in Uttar Karnataka. It is a combination of Yakshagana
and Byalatta with themes culled from the great epic Mahabharata.
No less interesting is the Bhootha Aradhane or devil worship, very common in
the coastal towns of Karnataka. Idols representing bhoothas are
taken out in a procession to the beating of drums and bursting of firecrackers.
As the procession ends, the idols are placed on a pedestal. With sword and jingling
bells, a dancer whirls round in imitation of the devil he represents. Frantically
pacing up and down, he enters into a state of possession and acts as an oracle.
The People of Dakshina Kannada perform an elaborate ritual called Nagamandala
to appease the serpent spirit. It is conducted in an extravagant manner throughout
the night, wherein dancers known as the Vaidyas dress themselves as nagakannikas
and dance the night away. The Vaidyas cavort around an elaborate serpent design
drawn with natural colours on the sacred ground, in a pandal specially erected
in front of the shrine. This nocturnal ritual is performed from December to
trip to the coastal belt would be incomplete without watching the Yakshagana
an elaborate dance-drama performance unique to Karnataka. It is a rare
combination of dance, music, songs, scholarly dialogues and colourful costumes.
A celestial world unfolds before the audience as loud singing and drumming form
a backdrop to dancers clad in striking costumes. Hence the name Yaksha (celestial)
Gana (music). This is a night-long event, with elaborately adorned performers
dancing to the beating of drums in open-air theatres - usually village paddy
fields after the winter crop has been reaped.
The ancient art of leather puppetry draws heavily from mythology, especially
stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This art form is still prevalent
in some remote villages. in some places, puppetry is performed to seek rain
or a good harvest or to get rid of a disease or pestilence.
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