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Yakshagana the translation of which goes " the music of celestials" is a form of a dance drama performed predominantly in South Kanara, Malnad region and certain parts of North Kanara Districts of the State of Karnataka has a 400 hundred-year-old tradition. It is a combination of dance, music, spoken word and costume-makeup and stage technique. It is a typical folk form of drama , commonly performed at night on a platform-like stage in the open air with themes based on Hindu Epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and mythological tales from the Puranas. The dance-drama is similar to Kathakali of Kerala. The themes of all the dramas of Yakshagana are fights, warfare, and stories of 'veera' and 'raudra' rasas from legends; it is remarkable for its pure dance. Though described as folk it has strong classical connections. The night long event with gorgeous costumes, elaborate make-up, quick movements, beating of drums and the narration of songs by the Bhagavatas put the audience in a trance.... the total effect is spell binding. Yakshagana a mixture of dance & drama has its soul in its .As prescribed in the Natya Shastra, it has the Suthra Dhara (conductor) & the vidushaka (the Jester).
Written Feb 13, 2008