Yakshagana a huge hit
Huge crowd at Yakshagana venue17 teams take part from 14 districts in the contest presented in Kannada
Yakshagana, Karnataka’s very own dance-drama, is practised only in the northern districts of Kasaragod and Kannur in Kerala. But it has enjoyed good patronage at State School Arts Festivals. Government Victoria College, the venue of the event here, attracted a huge crowd on Friday.
The temple art featured only at the high school level this year. Seventeen teams took part from 14 districts. Contestants wore huge headgear, elaborate facial make-up, colourful costumes, and ornaments.
The themes were derived from Ramayana and Mahabharatha, the most favoured one this year being Narakasuravadham. Yakshagana is presented in Kannada at arts festivals, though Malayalam and Tulu versions are popular in temple festivals in the northern districts.
The orchestra includes percussion instruments such as chenda, maddalam, jagatta or chengila (cymbals), and chakratala or elathalam (small cymbals).
Eswara Bhat, who trained seven teams for this festival, says that the dance, though presented in Kannada, has become popular at the sub-district and district-level arts festival too. The songs are written in Malayalam script for students. “Though some costumes are similar to those in Kathakali, Yakshagana has fewer mudras than Kathakali. In this dance, songs are very important,” he says. Girls and boys perform together. All the teams are trained by artistes like him from Kasaragod, Mr. Bhat says.
“Earlier the team from Kasaragod used to walk away with the top prize at school festivals,” says E.P. Sanil, a teacher of Iringalakuda Sreekrishna Higher Secondary School, who brought his school team to the festival. But now, other districts are giving them a tough fight, he says.