Durga Parameswari Temple at Kateel near Mangalore is a very beautiful temple built over the River Nandini. Kateel. Durga Parameswari Temple is also a patron of Yakshagana form of dance. Yakshagana, is a traditional theatre form, combining dance, music, spoken words, costume-makeup and stage technique with a distinct style and form. Yakshagana, literally meaning the song of the Yakshas, or demi-gods, offers a fun way to learn one?s Hindu epics and their thousand and more stories. Yakshagana is a mix of folk theatre, dance theatre with songs and music. Today, it constitutes an art form that thrives amidst the general decline of traditional arts elsewhere in India.
Yakshagana is popular even today in the Coastal belt of Karnataka. Kateel Shree Durga Parmeshwari dashaavataar yakshagana mandali Kateelu, perform Shri Devi Mahatme at various places on invitation by devotees. The Yakshagana was organised at my ancestral home, Kuthpadi Moodbettu Padumane (Sindhura- the modern name). The stage was set adjacent to our home Sindhura on December 28, 2012.
On 28th morning our family visited the Kateel temple to pay homage to the goddess, partaking of teerth prasadam, as a mark of respect. The idols representing the goddess was placed in Kaanangi Brahma Vishnu Mahesh temple at Kuthpady, where a pooja mangala aarti was held again. The Kuthpadi Moodbettu Padumane family offered lunch under elaborate, beautifully decorated shamianna…which was attended by large number of devotees…We then reached Kaanangi temple in the evening, the dhol walas were present followed by the Bhajan mandali who sang soulful bhajans to the beat of the drums , bells and cymbals and after the intake of teerth prasadam the priest carried the idols followed by our family members and friends.
A long procession comprising of the dholwalas , bandwalas and bhajan mandali followed across the winding lanes in the village amidst greenery, towards the family residence Sindhura. The idol was placed in a beautifully decorated elaborate tent in front of the house, which was also used by the artistes for dressing and makeup…after pooja aarti (prayers), dinner was served for the guests, late in the evening the yakshagana artistes ,commenced their performance..The opening scene of Devi Mahatme presents Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (the Trinity) on the stage praying to their creator Adi Maye who stands on the ratha (a traditional stool on the stage for the characters to sit).
The entourage of musicians included a narrator, singers (bhagawatha) and musicians playing the chande and maddale drums, a team of actors performed together with the songs. Their performance, usually touching on just one main story and a few sub-stories, is called the prasanga. Performances began to perform just after dusk with elaborate drums, during which the narrator set the background to the play with songs and music, before the actors came on the stage to roar and dance until dawn. The stage had no props or scenery, the ambiance was entirely created through dance, songs and words. The audience familiar with the language listened enthralled.
The entrance of Mahishasur was the high point of the yakshagana, amidst fun fare and frolic, were fire torches called Thute’ were lit…the entire scene was a positive visual delight to the mesmerised spectators…
The performers danced away gloriously, in the cool night where a full moon peeped surreptiticiously from the clouds, to the small hours of dawn, the dance drama concluded with a pooja aarti being performed for the goddess…a very memorable experience for me and my family…
Author: Kalpana J Shetty- Mumbai