Yakshagana – Folk Dance from Mangalore

Yakshagana is a dance drama popular in the state of Karnataka, especially in coastal Karanataka. Yakshagana is popular in the districts of Mangalore (Also known as Dakshina Kannada), Uttara Kannada, Shivamogga, Udupi, and Kasaragod district of Kerala State. It is believed to have evolved from pre classical music form and theatrical arts. Actors wear costumes and enact the various roles. Traditionally, Yakshaganas would go on all night starts in the evening. It is sometimes simply called as Aata (meaning play) in both Kannada and Tulu. Yaksha-Gana literally means the Gana (song) of a Yaksha. Yakshas were an exotic tribe mentioned in the Sanskrit literature of ancient India.

Yakshagana consists of a Himmela (background musicians) and a Mummela (dance and dialog group) which together perform a Yakshaga Prasanga. Himmela consisting of Bhagawata who is also the facilitator (singer), Maddale, Hormonium for drone and Chande (loud drums). A performance usually depicts a story from the Hindu epics and “Puranas”. It consists of a narrator(Baghawatha along with background musicians) who either narrates the story by singing or sings precomposed dialogs of a character, backed by musicians playing on traditional musical instruments as the actors dance to the music, with actions that portray the story as it is being narrated.

Dr. K.Shivaram. Karanth is the foremost authority on Yakshagana and has been working on all its aspects, dance, music, and literature, since 1930. He has led the way to a deep and systematic study of this art form. He has spent decades traveling to remote villages within Karnataka to inspect and study every Yakshagana manuscript.

Video – All about Yakshagana

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