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Yakshagana and Religion

Suppose I go to Mandarthi in Udupi district and pray to God that one of my wishes come true. In return I promise that I will organize a ‘Harake Aata’ and will watch that performance with my 5 year old child.

Sounds hilarious? But it’s plausible. The slots have been booked for the performances by the Mandarthi temple troupe till 2027-28! The same is true for Kateelu Annapurneshwari Mela too.

The Mandarthi troupe is joined by another mela, to the already existing four from November 17th. Kateelu Temple started its fifth mela on December 1st.Normally, each troupe performs 180 shows per year, played by an ensemble. The number of artistes along with helpers amount to 50 with each troupe. The Kateelu troupe which follows Tenka Thittu School of Yakshagana usually performs from mid-November to mid-May, known as Yakshagana time.

What is interesting here is the fact that the devotees’ money is the source of livelihood for a number of artistes. This concept is a far better idea than investing the money in constructing a new temple for the same god/goddess, when the number of temples is already uncountable in the coastal belt.

This year in the month of February, a temple costing in millions was rebuilt in Kemmannu, Karkala Taluk, Udupi district. Not that I am against giving another home for the goddess, if the same money would have been used to build a troupe which stages performances to fulfill the vows of the people who funded the temple, we could have seen a hundred people making a livelihood for years. As usual, though there is a dearth of professional artistes, a demand could do well for increasing the percentage of artistes performing Yakshagana for a living.

We can choose to do anything .Build a temple that stands as a static testimony, or use it for the people who develop a greater interest in protecting a diminishing art in the face of globalization era. The choice is ours.




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