Ever been to a yakshagana? Or is the correct question in your case, ever heard of a yakshagana? Here's a week with one of India's popular troupes.
The well-known touring troupe of Kannada artists, Shri Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali of Nidle-Dharmasthala, is organising a Yakshagana Saptaha (week), from 21st to 27th September at the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram and other places of the twin cities.
As part of the Saptaha, Shri Krishna Vivaaha will be staged at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram on 21st September. This yakshagana ballet will be performed in three parts, with Lord Krishna's marriage to Rukmini, Jambavati and Satyabhama in that order.
Rukmini was the daughter of Bhishmaka, and falls in love with Lord Krishna. All of the family members of King Bhismaka agree to the proposal except her elder brother Rukmi, who arranges for her marriage with Sisupala, a determined enemy of Krishna.
This upsets Rukmini, who sends a message to the Lord through a brahmin, to kidnap her from the temple of goddess Durga, their family deity, as it is her family's custom to visit the deity before a marriage, and also to avoid bloodshed.
One day before the marriage, Rukmini sets out for the temple, and as soon as she returns after offering her prayers to the deity, Krishna immediately takes the opportunity to picks her up to his chariot and speeds away. All the princes led by Jarasandha and Rukmi become furious and try to stop Krishna by wagging a battle. Meanwhile Balarama appears on the scene with his soldiers, and with help from Krishna, defeats the forces of Rukmi and Jarasandha. They return to Dwaraka, the capital city, where they get married.
King Satrajit possessed the Syamantaka Mani jewel gifted to him by the fire-god Agni, which had the unique power of yielding 170 pounds of gold everyday, and also of warding away anything inauspicious, such as diseases and famine.
Lord Krishna wanted the jewel to be with the ruling chief of the country, King Ugrasena, the ruler of many dynasties and also the grandfather of Krishna. So he pleads with Satrajit to gift the jewel to Ugrasena, but the latter refuses to part.
Satrajit's younger brother, Prasena, once wears this jewel and goes to the forest for hunting. He gets killed by a big lion which carries away the jewel. Jambavan, the bear king who fought for Lord Rama against Ravana, sees the glittering jewel and gives it to his younger daughter for playing after killing the lion, without knowing for the power of the jewel.
Meanwhile, Satrajit blames Krishna for the death of Prasena. To get rid of this false accusation, Krishna sets out to find the jewel, and finds it with Jambavati in the cave of Jambavan, who refuses to part with it.
After fighting with Krishna for 28 days, Jambavan realises that Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Rama, and so hands over the jewel. He even gets his daughter Jambavati to marry Krishna. Satrajit realises his mistake and pleads with Krishna to forgive him and marry his daughter Satyabhama, which the Lord obliges.
This ballet is being sponsored by Karnataka Karavali Maithri Sangha of Hyderabad. The Yakshagana Sapthaha will be inaugurated on 21st September by the chief guest Natya Kaladhara Pasumarthi Ramalinga Sastry, Associate Professor of Dance at Hyderabad Central University. T Shama Bhat, Commissioner of Endownments Department, Government of Karnataka, will be the guest of honor, while it will be presided over by M Krishna Murthy, Working President of the Karnataka Karavali Maithri Sangha.
The sapthaha starts with the ballets Sri Krishna Vivaaha on the 21st and Sri Krishna Janana - Kamsa Vadhe on 22nd at the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, followed by Bhasmasura-Mohini on the 23rd at Shankar Math (Nallakunta), Sri Kateel Kshethra Mahathme on the 24th at the Ashtalakshmi Temple in Dilsukhnagar, Veera Abhimanyu on the 25th at Shilparamam, Sudarshanopakhyana on the 26th at Sri Raghavendra Swamy Math (Bagh Lingampally) and finally, Sri Rama Ashwamedha - Veeramani on the 27th at the Sundaraya Vignana Kendram.
Yakshagana is a classical folk art form of Karnataka, mostly popular in the districts of Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Kasargod districts. This would be considered to be a form of opera by Western eyes.
Traditionally, Yakshaganas go on for whole of the night. The actors wear resplendent costumes, head-dresses and painted faces, which they paint themselves with natural colors and dyes, and enact the various roles that usually depicts a story from the Hindu epics and puranas. A vocalist narrates the story in a song-like fashion, and is backed by musicians playing traditional musical instruments, as the actors dance to the tune, with actions that portray the story as it is being narrated.
Please contact K N Somayaji or Prema Somayaji at 2700-5783 for further details.