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Yakshagana and other popular folk dances of Karnataka

Karnataka, a state flanked by the Arabian Sea is famous for a lot of places- the world famous ISKON temple, the architectural wonder of the Mysore Palace, and the remnants of the temples at Hampi the erstwhile capital of the kingdom of Vijayanagar and so on. Some of the most popular types of folk dances of Karnataka are as follows:

Yakshagana- Most popular of folk dances of Karnataka

Yakshagana is a confluence of dance, costumes, music, drama and dialogues. In particular, the dance is performed and popular in the Malenadu region of Karnataka.

Yakshagana means a song of Yaksha. Yakshagana is derived from many names including a dashavatar. In addition, it can be classified into two categories depending upon the region. They are-

  1. Moodalopaya- combining the areas of east side of Karnataka.
  2. Paduvlopaya- consists of the western states along with Udupi, Kasargod and so on.

Apart from this classification, the Paduvlopaya Yakshagana is further divided into sub categories namely-Tenkutittu, Badagutittu, Badabadagutittu which are popular in Kasargod, Udupi and Uttara Kanndatittu regions of Karnataka.

Yakshagana folk dances of Karnataka - Mythical India

Some of the important elements in this dance are the Raga, Tala,Prasanga and the costumes. Raga is the melodious tune that accompanies the dance, Tala represents the synchrony of dance with music and Prasanga means poetry.


Kunitha dance:

Kunitha dance has two variations- Suggi or Dollu Kunitha. The dance is performed widely during the harvest season. Predominantly performed by the shepherd community known as Kuruba, the dance involves dancing to the drum beats.

This festive dance begins primarily on a full moon day and the dancers travel village by village to earn their bread and butter. It goes on for many days and on the final day the dancers dance throughout the night to celebrate the wonderful harvest produced.

Kunitha dance karnataka - Mythical India


Veeragase dance:

Veeragase is performed during Dusshera festival and is highly popular during the months of Shravan and Karthik. In fact, it symbolizes the love for the Almighty and holds a special place in the folk dances of Karnataka.

Particularly, this dance portrays the chivalrous Veerabhadra who according to the Hindu mythology evolved from the drop of sweat of Lord Shiva who was dancing with full vigor combined with anger.

Veeragase dance folk dances of Karnataka - Mythical India

This warrior took revenge on King Daksha by slaying him as the king humiliated Lord Shiva by not inviting him to his holy yagna. Veeragase gets its name from the warrior Veerabhadra.


Bayalata dance:

This dance is famous amongst the folk dances of Karnataka in the southern region. It is a religious performance that is often fused with drama and dialogues. Bayalata too marks the end of the harvest season.

There are about five types of this dance namely-Sannatas, Parijata, Doddatas, Yakshagana and Dasarata. In fact, this dance resembles the Yakshagana dance in many ways but a key difference is that Bayalata dance, a single narrator is required to conduct the dance.

Bayalata dance similar to Yakshagana dance - Mythical India

This dance is performed by both males and females. The dance drama often portrays the great Indian epics as well as the Puranas in their dance to imbibe devotion to the God in the devotee.


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