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Native to Karnataka, Yakshagana is known as a performance celebrating the music of the celestial beings. It is more of a folklore tradition along the Konkan coast, that overlaps a performance of dance and drama.
Yakshagana was traditionally an all-male enterprise. Men would dress up in elaborate costumes, heavy headgear, and perform all night, telling stories inspired by Hindu epics. Instances from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are relayed through the musical. The performers use specific instruments, like the harmonium, metal clappers, and drums. As the heavy titillating music plays, the actors move in motions expressing the situation.
Yakshagana performance on stage Image source: wikimedia commons
The headgear is decorated with metal and beads. It is quite heavy, and to be able to wear it and dance all night, dancers must be healthy, strong, and have a good stamina. These are known as Yakshagana pagade, and are custom-made. The actors paint their faces with natural dyes, and the shades they use distinguish this art form from similar ones like Theyyam and Kathakali that are native to Kerala. Yakshagana actors patronize shades of yellow, red, brown, orange, and white.
There are two types of Yakshagana performances. Moodalapaya is the form that is still inherent to rural culture and is not performed in urban or commercial settings. Paduvalapaya is the form that has evolved to accommodate the knowledge and interests of modern crowds. This is the form that is performed for tourists at the coasts. There is a slight difference in the presentation of the dance form in the north and southern coast. In the north, facial expressions are emphasized, while in the south, the costume, art, and dance is highlighted.
These days, women take part in Yakshagana performances Image source: wikimedia commons
Yakshagana is still performed in temples and temple towns on special occasions. In rural Karnataka, one can see these performances happening regularly. Today's performances feature women as well, and some times the cast is entirely female.
Keywords: Yakshagana, Dance, Coast, Karnataka, Konkan Coast
"Mahabharata" is considered to be one of the greatest epics of the world, and if you're looking to read it with respect to different angles, then you must start reading the below mentioned books. These books are written by keeping in mind different angles and situations of Mahabharata.
1. Yayati by Girish Karnad
Karnad's play, "Yayati", is based on one of the incidents which took place in Mahabharata. In this episode, Yayati, who was one of the ancestors of the Pandavas, was given the curse of premature old age by his father-in-law, Shukracharya, who was infuriated by Yayati's infidelity. It was said that this curse could only be redeemed if someone would exchange his youth with Yayati, and to this, his son, Pooru made the sacrifice. Though, this episode is not given much importance, but it must be acknowledged that this episode did had a great role to play in Mahabharata.
2. Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik
Not many are aware of the fact that Mahabharata was originally known as "Jaya". In this book, the author puts forward lesser known facts about the great epic. At the same, Pattanaik in this book has drawn a vivid spectrum of characters, and has written about how the behaviour of every character led to the Great Battle. Well, there's a thing about Pattanaik's writing, that it keeps the reader engaged till the very end. So, if you're looking to get deeper in the story of Mahabharata, then you must read this marvellous book.
3. Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray
This book is written by Draupadi's perspective, and tells the story of Mahabharata with a feminist view. We all know that Draupadi was the most fascinating and suffering character from the epic. So in this book, Ray tried to write about Draupadi's thought process and her mindset during the whole tale. In fact, it is often seen how Draupadi is blamed for the war which took place, but Ray in this book unveils what Draupadi as a queen and a woman went through.
4. Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan by Anand Neelkantan
This book by Anand Neelkantan is the narrative of the Kauravas. Interestingly, Kauravas were known to be unconquerable. The book comes in two parts: Book I- Roll of the Dice and Book II- The Rise of Kali. What really makes the book worth reading is the fact that it is retelling the story of Mahabharata by the defeated party, and this is something which is rare. You may find books on Arjuna, Krishna, or even Bhima, but you won't be able to find books on Duryodhana, and this is that rare book.
5. The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das
In this book, the author studies all the characters of the Mahabharata in order to analyse and answer the noble question of 'why be good'. The author, at the same time, trued to show that the experiences and moral blurriness of the characters is somewhat closer to our experiences as normal human beings. Interestingly, each chapter in the book looks at a different character from the epic, analyses various episode from the epic, and evaluates the morality of the situation.
Keywords: Mahabharata, India, Epic, Author, Books, Recommendations.
Art is not considered a necessity in schools nowadays. It is as important as academics because it will teach students not just creativity but about culture and community as well. For instance, Mandala as an art form may help in learning Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Mandala can be understood in two ways, the external one which is symbolism and internal which is used as a guide for practices like meditation.
Mandala, the term simply means a circle in Sanskrit. The first time it was ever produced was in the first century before the Christ era as a Buddhist art form. In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment.
In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment. Photo by Amisha Nakhwa on Unsplash
Siddhartha Gautama, as it is known, is the father of Buddhism. He is said to be born in the Lumbini Province, Nepal. The date of his birth is not confirmed but the historians say it to be around 560 B.C. The known facts are that after being aware of the human sufferings and to attain enlightenment he left his kingdom. He sought to attain enlightenment through meditation and thoughtful action. He traveled across parts of India to spread his philosophy and eventually gained followers. The first sangha, a Buddhist community of monks, was formed thereafter.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash
These Buddhist monks started traveling across Asia carrying the mandalas through the Silk Route, an ancient trade route which connected the East and West. They helped in spreading Buddhism and these art forms. Though initially it all started with Buddhism it came to Hinduism and other religious practices too. The painters of such spiritual crafts were usually sacred laymen. They worked sitting on the floor.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. The traditional mandala of Tibet represents the enlightened state of Buddha through sand art. The creation of which can take up to weeks but after it is completed it is destroyed in a few hours to depict the Buddhist ideology that nothing is permanent.
They are also used as photo frames at the places of meditation as a sacred belief. Dream catchers also have Mandalas to protect the person sleeping. Most dream catchers can be identified as having the shape and patterns of Mandalas.The creating and keeping of Mandalas can transform and help one in attaining inner peace and wisdom.
Keywords: India, Tibet, Buddhism, Hindu, mandala art, meditation, silk route
Every year in September, Shivajinagar is thronged by people who visit the infamous St. Mary's Basilica. Built during the advent of Catholicism in the Kingdom of Mysore, this church is possibly the largest and most frequented in Bangalore. The birthday of St. Mary is celebrated in the Basilica on September 8.
Between August 28 and September, evening mass is held in the Basilica and a flag is unfurled which remains hoisted for the span of ten days. People are often spotted wearing pale pink clothes, called kaavi in southern languages. This is done in observance of a certain vow taken by the devotees. On the last day, the day of the feast, a grand chariot procession takes place, where the statue of Mary is placed on a pedestal. In other churches, the central statue's clothes are changed every day during this period.
People thronging at a chariot procession during St. Mary's Feast Image source: wikimedia commons
St. Mary's Basilica originally catered to the Tamil population that inhabited the Blackpally area in Bangalore and conducts most of its services in Tamil. Kannada and English services were introduced much later. Originally built as a chapel, it was converted into a large, gothic structure in 1874. It has a vaulted ceiling and Corinthian pillars, stained glass windows, and beautiful paintings. A white replica of Michelangelo's Pieta stands at the entrance of the church, similar to the one in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome.
Owing to the pandemic, in the last two years, the celebration of the feast has been held online, and the procession was not held in the city.
Keywords: Mary's feast, Basilica, September, Bangalore