1. Tradition:

b) Group:

Krishna Pārijāta

Folk theatre is a popular art form of Uttar Karnataka. It is a combination of Yakshagana and Bayalāṭa with themes called from the great epic Mahabharata.

Bhūta ārādhane

No less interesting is the Bhūta ārādhane or devil worship, very common in the coastal towns of Karnataka. Idols representing ‘bhūtas’ are taken out in a procession to the beating of drums and bursting of firecrackers. As the procession ends, the idols are placed on a pedestal. With sword and jingling bells, a dancer whirls round in imitation of the devil he represents. Frantically facing up and down, he enters into a state of possession and acts as an oracle.


The People of Dakshina Kannada perform an elaborate ritual called Nāgamanḍala to appease the serpent spirit. It is conducted in an extravagant manner throughout the night, wherein dancers known as the Vaidyās dress themselves as nāgakannikās and dance the night away. The Vaidyās cavort around an elaborate serpent design drawn with natural colours on the sacred ground, in a pandal specially erected in front of the shrine. This nocturnal ritual is performed from December to April.



A trip to the coastal belt would be incomplete without watching the Yakshagāna – an elaborate dance-drama performance unique to Karnataka. It is a rare combination of dance, music, songs, scholarly dialogues and colourful costumes. A celestial world unfolds before the audience as loud singing and drumming form a backdrop to dancers clad in striking costumes. Hence the name Yaksha (celestial) Gāna (music). This is a night-long event, with elaborately adorned performers dancing to the beating of drums in open-air theatres - usually village paddy fields after the winter crop has been reaped.

Togalu Bombeyāṭa:

The ancient art of leather puppetry draws heavily from mythology, especially from the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. This art form is still prevalent in some remote villages. In some places, puppetry is performed to seek rain or a good harvest or to get rid of a disease or pestilence.



Karnataka is a treasure trove of ritualistic dances, all denoted by the generic term Kuṇita. Doļļu Kuṇita is a popular drum dance of Karnataka accompanied by singing. The men of the shepherd community known as the Kuruba community perform the vigorous drum dance. Powerful drumming, acrobatic movements and synchronised group formations mark the dance. Drums are decorated with coloured cloth and slung around the necks of the percussionists. Pūja Kuṇita is another dance, in which a wooden structure with a deity is carried on the dancers’ heads.

Dēvara taṭṭe Kuṇita, Yellammana Kuṇita, Suggi Kuṇita and others take their name from the deity or the symbol or instruments which are balanced on the head or held in the hand of the dancer. The Paṭa Kuṇita (a dance by men carrying tall bamboo poles decorated with coloured ribbons and crowned with a tiny silver or brass umbrella), the Gorava Kuṇita (a dance performed by men in a black rug-like costume with fur caps and carrying percussion instruments and flutes) and the Kamsāļe (originally a religious dance, performed by men with cymbals) are some of the other common ritual dances.

Classical Dances:

The Mysore style of Bharatanatyam, which is the oldest and most popular form of classical dance in India, is widely performed here. Other mainstream classical dances here include Kūchipuḍi and Kathak.

Folk arts & Dances of Karnataka:

Folk performing arts represent the cultural segments of a particular region and language. The performances presented on the stage or open fields are blended with songs, dances, facial expressions (with or without make-up), and music. These elements form the basis of any folk performing art. Audience is the most important element, whether it is an indoor or outdoor performance. The complexity traits of the performing arts gained popularity in a few regions because of its regional uniqueness. According to a recent study, regional art forms like 'būdkali' of Coorg, 'dāsarāṭa' of North Karnataka and few other dance forms have lost their popularity due to the advent of electronic media - satellite television, video games, internet and so on.

To know the folk art, on the forefront it is essential to know the territorial limitations of the State. Based on an academic study on the folk performing arts of Karnataka, the State has three major territories and one province namely:

1. Coastal Karnataka: (South and North Kanara; Arabian Sea belt)
2. South Karnataka: From Chitradurga towards South i.e., Tumkur, Kolar, Bangalore, Mysore, Mandya, Hassan,   Shimoga and Chickmagalur.
3. North Karnataka: From Chitradurga   towards North i.e., Belgaum, Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga, Dharwad, Bellary, Koppal, and Raichur area. 


During the harvest season in Coorg, people assemble in designated rural centers to perform their annual Harvest Dance. Wearing the ethic Coorgi Costume - black tunic, and a decorative traditional knife, the men present their slow-moving dance to the background music holding long sticks. It is generally known as 'Luttari Kōlāṭa'.

Bolak āṭ:

According to a legend 'Lord Vishnu' took various avatars (incarnation) for the destruction of the evil demons. To destroy the demon 'Bhasmāsura' Vishnu danced in 30 varieties and one among them is ‘Bolkat’. This dance is performed in front of oil lamp in an open field. This is performed exclusively by men wearing Kodava Dress. Performers hold 'cavari' (Yak-animal fur)in one hand and 'Kodava katti'(Kodava Sickle)in the other hand. Many regional variations are found in dance forms. Few performers use only 'Cavari' and dance to the tune of 'duḍi'. When they dance with a sickle in their hand it is identified as 'Kattiyāṭa'. They sing to the tune of 'duḍi', an hour glass drum which carries the Kodava heroic deeds of gods and goddess of the region as its theme.


Participants are exclusively women folk of Coorg ethnic. The myth says that on the occasion of 'Samudra Manthan' (churning motif) the distribution of 'Amruta' (nectar) went in the hands of Vishnu who appeared in the guise of 'Mohini' (female roll). The replica of 'mōhini' and dance is today named as 'Ummattāṭa' in the Kodava region. Kodava women folk wear the Kodava national dress with jewels, ribbon on the forehead and Kumkum, holding the brass cymbals in their hands. In a swinging rhythm they dance in the circle. At the centre a woman stands with a pot full of water to represent water deity 'Kāveri'. Kodava people worship 'Kaveri diety' as their community goddess.


This dance form was performed with religious sentiments in the temple premises. In the recent years, it is performed in other places also. Men dancing holding deer horns is the main attraction of this dance. The wind piping musicians and percussionist render rhythmic tunes to the performers. This art has certain martial movements because the Kodavas are known for their war techniques and valour. The performers wear their ethnic dress, and deer horns are used in place of daggers for self protection. In the legend of the horns of 'Krishṇamṛiga' (a dark coloured spotted deer) is used while dancing.

Hagalu Vēṣagāraru (Day Actor's):

Vēṣagāraru are a group of itinerant actors of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. They are adepts in the art of miming. They disguise themselves as different characters or roles and present their performances in cities and villages. In Andhra Pradesh these actors are known as Pagati Vēṣagāraru. They can impersonate mythological, divine, or social characters and can present events of even daily life. Some of them have the skill of producing even a full-length play like a professional performing troupe. The Hagalu Vēṣgāraru or "day-actors" don't need any regular stage. They don't need a green-room. They put on their make-up and costumes in their camp and start on their daily expedition. They go from door to door in the village or town where they have pitched their camp and offer to perform their show. They enact amusing scenes, sing "Sarvajña Vacana's" Basavaṇṇa Vacana's. They don't need curtains, or the back stage equipment. Of course they carry their musical instruments with them, a harmonium, a "tabla-daggā" and a pair of cymbals. An assistant will carry a bag to collect the grains which are given as reward. Vēṣagāraru belong mostly to the "Vĩraśaiva" faith. Occasionally they are also of the Muslim faith. Sometimes they are addressed as belonging to "Muslim" community or "Jyatigar" caste. They are known among the people by different names Hagalu Vēṣagāraru (day actors); Suḍugāḍu Siddha (Sādhu of the cemetery); Bahurūpi (one who appears in different roles). As their name suggest, they perform only during day time. Only men folk take part in the performance. Female roles are taken up by men. The Vēṣagāraru mainly entertain their audience, though incidentally by depicting mythological and epic stories. In the form of dialogue and songs they disseminate normal ideas and wisdom.

Kalgi-tura laavani (Ballad) Tradition

"Kalgi-tura" is competitive singing glorifying feminine paws as pitted against masculine prowess. The challenge is thrown and accepted. With rhyme and rhythm, meaning and sound, "Kalgi-tura" is interesting to watch and listen. The performance is in 'Kannada'.

The 'Kalgi-tura' begins when Phakīravva beats a "duff" (percussion) slowly, deliberately, getting herself ready to burst forth in her "Kalgi" songs to challenge the principle of male chauvinism down the ages of "tura" (lāvaṇi) tradition.

Phakīravva leading artist of the Kalgi-tura tradition moves on stage with supreme confidence and strikes challenging postures suiting the theme of the song. Within minutes of singing Phakīravva creates a theatre through content, song and dance.

Phakiravva Gudisagara, a famous name indeed in the contemporary "Kalgi-tura lāvaṇi" ballad tradition. With her rich sonorous voice Phakīravva can regale her rural or even urban audience throughout the night giving glimpses and flashes of the vitality of a challenging rural theatre form. Her male counter part Hanumanta Rao is a fitting "tura" singer and in fact Phakīravva acknowledges him as her "guru" (teacher).

Gāruḍi Gombe or Taṭṭirāya Giant Sized Dolls or Puppets (Procession Puppets):

In Karnataka the street procession performance includes the giant sized dolls or the puppets made out of bamboo sticks. The body is wrapped with colourful costumes of the regional dress and sometime the replica of the live human theatre i.e. "Yakshagāna". The face of the puppet is made out of bamboo basket and applied on paper mesh with suitable make-up. During the fair and festival the giant sized dolls will be the central attraction to the on lookers. The dolls or giant sized puppets are dummy, huge doll. On manifestation, the whole structure is hollow, permitting a person to get inside to carry the entire structure on his shoulder and dance. Provision is made for the person to see from inside. This kind of processional puppets are also called in different names according to the regions. In Coastal Karnataka this kind of dolls have been called "Taṭṭirāya" (`Taṭṭi' means bamboo sticks `Rāya’ a suffix word; the person who carried bamboo sticks huge doll or puppet) In South Karnataka the same dolls are called as "Gāruḍi Gombe" (`Gāruḍi'- means magical and `Gombe' means puppet). However the use of the giant-dolls in procession is to make fun and also to ward off the evil spirit. The giant-sized puppets are usually found during the temple festivals and they depict various social characters from Indian folk and classics. The total weight of each doll usually will be 10 to 12 Kilograms and height remains normally 10 feet to 12 feet. During the procession few performers wear simple masks of different characters.

Putting on disguises like a tiger (`Hulivēṣa') or bear (`Karaḍiveṣa') and bringing monkeys to dance to the tamers tune are itinerants common to South India.

In Tamil Nāḍu (Dravidian States of South India) and Karnataka dancing like animals and making animals to dance are popular entertainment. There is also a custom dancing with a bull-mask, some may use even bear- mask. In Karnataka the peacock dances (Navilu Kuṇita) are part of the dummy horse dance (Kīlu Kudure Kuṇita) is more popular during the procession.

The dummy horse-dance is popular in Tamil Nadu as "Poyyakāl Kutirai" (false legged horse). A shape of light material (bamboo sticks) resembling a full-size horse is made with a hollow inside, to allow a person to stand wearing the contraption. A man stands with the horse-shape attached to him in the middle and dance to the rhythmic pattern.

Sōmana Kuṇita (DANCE):

In south Karnataka-region many village deity’s (Mother-goddess) shrine have the Soma (mask) Cult, it has emerged as a local spirit worship and on the occasion of ceremonial day of the deity’s these Soma'(Mask spirits) are honoured. The term Soma- refers to an unsatisfied warrior character who after death becomes a guardian to the Mother goddess. On the other hand the local people call them as DEVA SOMA'S (MASK OF THE GOD/DIVINE SPIRITS). There are many types of Soma's, which differs from region to region. The worshippers of these Soma cult belong to the community of Gangematadavaru (Fisherman group) The colour of the Soma's have special feature and depicts the nature of the spirit, either good or harm (trouble giver) to the devotees. On the ceremonial day devotees offer blood sacrifice to these spirits. Masks are made of Indian red tree or of Pterocarpus Santalinus Linn family tree. Mask wearer observes certain taboos in his habits to keep-up the mind in purity. He holds a cane or stick and peacock feathers bunch in the hand and dances according to the tune of the music which accompanies him. Mask dance starts from the pitch of mother goddess in temple with certain ritual. The process of the ritual and worshiping by non-Brahmin (Dravidian): On the Mask- head a mini headgear will be placed. This will be in the shape of arch (curved structure) decorated with colorful flowers and green neem leaves. Back portion of the headgear contain many colorful cloths hanged down in frill. Somas (Mask) are ferocious in dancing according to the tune of accompanied instruments. Accompanied instruments are "ARE" (percussion) "DOONU" (Percussion) "MOURI" (Wind pipe) "SADDE" (Windpipe for humming sound or śhṛiti). Usually the Soma's proceeds from the mother goddess temple. Priest holds a whip in his hand and controls the spirit- oriented masks. They often sing the epic of the Mother Goddess (Mythological hymn) to the tune of the oracle and music.

In recent days the Somas (Mask) are made out of softwood and much introduced in the city folk with traditional costumes. The whole appearance gives the vision of Chinese or Nepalese masks.

Jōḍu Haligi

Two artistes produce rhythmic notes of astounding energy and power. “JODU HALIGI” means two percussion instruments. Their movements 
along the stage expressive of their physical energy harmonize with the notes produced on the instrument. The `Haligi' circular in shape is made of buffalo hide. A short stick is used on it. The notes combined with the bodily movement pervade the stage and overflow to the audience.

Jaggahalige Kuṇita (Jaggahalige Dance) (Folk Dance)

Jaggahalige- a percussion instrument made of bullock cartwheel, will be wrapped in buffalo hides. On ‘Hōli’ (March) and ‘Yugādi’ (New Year eve of Hindu) the whole village of ‘Byāhaṭṭi’ (Hubli-Dharwad Department of Karnataka) folk roll a dozen giant percussion instruments and march in an impressive procession. The biggest percussion instrument and chief choreographer who control the rhythms with small percussion instrument called ‘Kaṇihaligi’ looks like small ‘duff’ instrument, its body is made of clay and it is covered with calf hide.

Goravara Kuṇita (Gorava Dance):

Gorava dance or 'Goravara Kuṇita' a dance of the Shiva-cult is more popular in the Mysore region and North Karnataka regions. In North Karnataka the 'Goravas' worship "Mylara Linga" (Eshwara God) whereas in South Karnataka (Mysore region) the 'Goravas' worship the deity called as 'Mudukutore Mallikaarjuna'. In South Karnataka the 'Goravas' wear colorful costume like black and white woolen rug, fur cap (of black bear) and holds 'Damaru' (percussion instrument) and 'Pillangovi' (flute). Towards North Karnataka the 'Goravas' wear the costume of black woolen rug and hanging bag (made out of skin) on shoulder. Some of them wear black-coat and white dhoti. In traditional context the 'Gorava' devotees dance in trance. Some times they bark like dogs. It is believed that the totem of the 'Mylaralinga' is dog. The dancers’ foot moves in clock- wise and zigzag form. There is no fixed choreography to these performers. The North Karnataka 'Goravas' wear yellow powder on their forehead and give 'Prasāda' to their believed devotees. Artists hold instrument like 'Damaru' (percussion) and sometimes 'Koļalu' (flute). Rarely few artists wear a small bronze bell on shoulder called 'Pariganṭe' and a few followers hold cowbells .


String Puppets Play Of North Karnataka

Puppetry is one of the most remarkable devices of art, which is capable of universal appeal. India is said to be the motherland of Puppetry. The concept of this earth as the stage for God to perform his plays pervades Indian philosophy. The Sanskrit word for puppet is Puttalike or Puttika which is related to the word Putra which means son. The animation of puppets through imaginative manipulation is what is suggested by the etymology of Puttalika, or Pupa.

The earliest reference to Puppetry in India is in the Tamil Epic śilappadikāram of about 2nd century B.C. The term Sūtradhāra the "holder of strings" seems to suggest puppetry and it is used in relation to plays like Kamsavadha in Patanjali"s "Mahābhāṣya" - indicating the long history of puppetry in India, since even the 5th century B.C.

Generally string puppets are made of softwood, painted according to the character. The puppets are designed according to the live Yakshagāna or regional folk play pattern. Demon characters of puppets reflect the design of village Mother Goddess temple iconography. String puppets are manipulated from above the stage, manipulator's handling technique is unseen because of the upper part of the stage covered with black screen. Puppets appear from the left wing to right, sometime from above the stage.

Stories selected for the performance are from the Ramayana and Mahabharata episodes. Song and dialogue exchange are delivered by the manipulator behind the screen. Traditional performances were played in the oil lamp which has been substituted by electric bulb in recent days.

Devindrappa troupe "Shakti Yakshagāna Gombeyāṭa Manḍali" has earned very good name in the string puppets play of north Karnataka. Special attraction of the play is that percussionist (Maddalegāra) sit outside the stage and converse with the jester character "Hanumanāyaka" amusing the audience with proverbs, jokes etc. The size of the puppets is 2 to 3.5 feet.

Gorgeous costume of the puppets are similar to the regional Yakshagāna made out of gold paper, ornaments adorned shoulder, chest gears and headgear’s. Demon character will be painted with red colour and bulged eyes with long teeth. The divine characters will be colored with yellow and green while jester characters face will be painted with quite jet black.

Accompanying instruments in marionette play are "Maddale" (percussion) "Shehonoy" (wind pipe) and "tāļa" (metal cymbals). The leading singers sing while the major assistants add to the chorus voice.

Leather Puppets Play - of Karnataka

Depending on the size of the puppets, the leather puppet shows in Karnataka is divided into two major varieties 
(1) Chikka Togalu Gombeyāṭa (small leather puppet play).  
(2) Doḍḍa Togalu Gombeyāṭa (life size or larger leather puppet play) 
Each variety shows several regional variations in the style of music, craftsmanship, stage technique and manipulation. 
Leather puppeteers are scattered all over Karnataka and other Dravidian states. They have vivid name for shadow theatre or leather puppet 
play. In North Karnataka the leather puppeteers are called "Kiļļikyāta's". The puppeteers of the small leather puppet theatre performers use Kannada language and in a box stage manipulator sits behind the screen, raise the
puppets held in their hands. During the performance men, women, children, the whole community of the artist, take part. The average dimensions of the leather puppet stage is 12 feet in length and 6 feet in width. The small puppet players have their own mobile stage which measures
9 feet in length and 5 feet in width. A white screen is tied up in front of the visible portion. Behind the screen the manipulator sits and manipulates the epic characters.
. Behind the curtain the hands of the manipulator remain unseen. In front of the stage the puppeteer’s family or associate sit and give chorus
and exchange dialogues with drum beater. In the projected light sources the leather puppets shadow appears with beautiful color.

Gondaligara āṭa (Narrative performing art of North Karnataka)

Gondaliga's are "Ambā Bhavāni worshipers, who give theatrical performance in North Karnataka and in Maharashtra. The performance theme is mainly on divine tales or folk tales or historical legends. The performance will be given in the public during the night time. The performance rendered by the "Gondal" community people is called "Gondaligara āṭa" in Kannada. The Gondal community people are itinerants, and few are now settled. On invitation the Gondal priest goes and gives the performance. They speak Marathi as their mother tongue while they know other regional languages.

The term "Gondal" means the army of Shiva Spirits. The Shiva spirits are called "Gana" and the troupe of the "Gaṇa" is called "dal" Combining these two words "Gan + dal" becomes "Gan-dal" but in the regional language it is used as "Gondal". The main theme of the “Gondal” ritual appeases the Shiva spirits or mother deity spirits. These mystic spirits ritual is called "Gondal Puja".

The myth states that "Parusharam" son to "Renuka" decimated the demon called "Bāṇāsur". Threading veins from "Bāṇāsur's" body through his skull "Parusharam" created an instrument which, when plucked, yielded a sound approximating "ṭinṭini". Today this instrument is known as Cauḍike. "Parusharam" went to worship "Renuka" while playing on the instrument and thus begun the tradition of performing a Gondal. Alternatively it is also put forward that the gondāl tradition was established when "Parusharama" killed Kshatriya King "Sahasrarjun". The Gondal's who worship "Devi Renuka" is known as Renukṛai and those who are devotees of "Tulaja Bhavani" are called kadamrāi.


A powerful folk orchestra of North Karnataka the "Karaḍi Majalu" performers are in demand during various auspicious occasions, processions. The orchestra derives its name from the percussion instrument "Karaḍe or Karaḍi". Palm size cymbals yield the metallic sounds while the "Shehanoy" adds to the continuous flow of musical waves. The performers produce very vigorous and soul filling music.

Mūḍalapāya Yakshagāna

"Mūḍalapāya Yakshagāna" is a village theatre in the eastern part of Karnataka, (Mūḍala = Eastern) of Tumkur and Mysore region. The "Bhāgavat" (singer) and his small group of singers and instrumentalists (Maddale, the percussion instrument and Mukhavīṇe - a windpipe resembling Shehony instrument) form the musical part. The various characters of the play bedecked with gorgeous costumes and speaking flamboyant dialogue also give some vigorous dances. The entry of some demonic characters is awe- inspiring, so also their dialogue.


In Northern Karnataka the open theatre folk performance similar to the Mūḍalapāya Yakshagāna takes place. Geographically the northern style of folk theatre is identified as Doḍḍāṭa. All these art forms are diminishing without patronage. This dying art can be revived only if government takes initiative step to document and promote this art form.

Vīragāse kuṇita:

Devotees of Shiva-cult dance in groups of two, four and six and sometime hold a sword and dance. They also perform a ritual on stage viz. piercing a long or short needle across their mouth. The Sambal and Dimmu are used as percussion instruments. Cymbals and Shehanoy (wind pipes) are also used while the leading singer narrates the "Dakshayajna" epic with percussion instrument beating creates heroic tempo.

Doļļu Kuṇita or Doļļu Dance

Doļļu is a percussion instrument which is used in the group dance of the "Kuruba's" community in North Karnataka area. A group of 16 dancers beat the drum and dance to its different rhythms, which are controlled and directed by a leader with cymbals moving at the center. Slow and fast rhythms alternate and group weaves varied patterns.

The costumes are simple. Upper part of the body is left bare while the lower one has a black sheet-rug tied on the `Dhoti'.

Beats and rhythms are fascinating to the viewer with effect of sounds and simple choreography built by the rural genius.

In the year 1987 the "doļļu" dance troupe participated in the U.S.S.R. festival under the leadership of K.S.Haridas Bhat, toured two and half month, traveled and presented glorious performances in Moscow, Leningrad, Vibrog Archangel, Murmansk, Pskov, Novogorod and Tashkent.

Bīsu Kamsāļe - Dance

The Kamsāļe dance is named after the instrument held in hands of the dancer. The Kamsāļe artistes or dancers are found in the Kannada speaking areas of Mysore, Nanjangudu, Kollegal and Bangalore.

The instrument comprises a cymbal held in one hand and a bronze disc in the other. The main element in art is the rhythmic clang, which blends with the melodious music of the Mahadēśvara epic. The instruments, in the course of the vigorous rhythmic beatings, are moved around the body of the dancer in innumerable patterns manifesting both skill and art. In a group movement the dancer provides the vision of a series of offensive and defensive maneuvers.

Kamsāļe is closely connected with a tradition of Shiva worship. The artists are from 'Hālu Kuruba' community who have vowed to live a life of devotion to Lord Mahadeeshvara to perform kamsāļe. The dance is a part of a 'dīksha' or oath and is taught by teacher or spiritual leader.

Bhūta Performance:

In Coastal Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada District, India) the term 'bhūta' means a divine spirit which deserves periodic propitiation. The cult is practiced from generation to generation. The bhūta' rituals enormously vary from village to village according to the social structure of the society. The boundaries of present day District of South Kanara in Karnataka roughly conform to the area of traditional 'Tulunad', the land of the Tulu speakers. The region is a forty by twenty miles rectangle bounded on the west by the Arabian Sea and on the East by the precipitous slopes of the Western Ghats. The Northern and Southern borders are rivers, which are transferable by foot during the dry season.

There is a veritable pantheon of the 'bhūtās' whose number is about 350. 'bhūtās' are believed to be capable of shaping the welfare of votaries. The 'bhūta' cult has its own priest class and impersonators who act as communication of the divine spirit through possession act of oracle or prophecy. 'bhūta' worship has different types of folk music, to the tune of musician an impersonator dance and his foot step moves with heavy anklet called 'Gaggara' and in his hand 'Caury' (Yak tail fan). An impersonator wears either metal mask or areca-leaf mask on his head. The make-up is attractive and dress is made out of simple tender coconut leaves. During the performance, musical instruments like ''Mouri' (wind pipe) 'Tase' (percussion) and 'Shruti' (wind pipe) are used. The performer dances to the tune of musical instruments and sometimes wears a mask.

The ritual dance is very artistic and attracts all the spectators. 'bhūta' or divine spirits have their own myths or epics sung during the performance. Some of the 'bhūta' songs or epics are sung in the paddy plantation field by the women folk. They are called 'Pāḍ-dana' in Tulu language. During the 'bhūta' performance women render the songs with a small percussion instrument called 'Tembere' or 'Karande'.

Aṭi Kaļanja

'Aṭi Kaļanja' is a ritualistic folk dance performed by the 'Nalke' Community. Kaļanja is the name of a minor spirit, who is in charge of the protection of the village folk during the month of July- August (rainy season) when the other major spirits take leave for rest. During this period the members of the 'Nalke' Community decorate their body with the costume made of the tender coconut leaves, anklets, colorful cloth, long cap made of areca spathe etc., paint their face with various colors and designs. Holds an umbrella made of leaves, decorated with leaves and flowers. Artist goes from house to house and dances in front of the house. The other members of the group sing the story of the spirit and beat a small drum known as Tembere. The householder gives them paddy, rice, coconut, turmeric, charcoal and the dancers perform certain rituals to ward of disease and other misfortunes of the family and the cattle.


'Karangolu' is a kind of harvest dance of joy and merriment. It is also a kind of prayer for prosperity through harvest. During the month of February-March after the second harvest on the full moon day of the season the members of the 'Harijan' community dress themselves like men, women old men etc., paint their body with white color, wear anklets, deck themselves with areca flower, leaves and beads. Artiste holds a stick and beat their drum. As an itinerant goes dancing from house to house and receive alms from the land- lords.


'Mādira' is the dance of women belonging to the 'bhūta' impersonator's community. During the rainy season the members of this community are free from their traditional profession of spirit- possession and dance. Hence the women go from house to house dancing and singing accompanied by the beating of the drum known as Tembere. One woman sings and beats the drum while another woman dances, usually the younger one dances. The song usually describes the beauty of the woman and her love and marriage with a handsome man.

'Kabita' means a small piece of poetry usually sung during planting the paddy seedlings by the women folk. The main speaker sings this narrative poem and after each stanza the co-workers repeat the chorus or the main theme of the song. The content may sometimes be the narration of certain episodes or an incident or a humorous episode. It may also be a satire or a joke passed towards the master or the lord or a grand personality, or it may also be the story of an animal.

Kuṇubi ‘Hōli’ (Tribal Dance):

'Kuṇubi's are tribal group who speak mixed Marathi dialect in the Northern Coastal Karnataka. Being the tribal group the men folk perform the ‘Holy Dance and songs’ during the 'holy' festival. The men folk decorate themselves with a turban and wild flowers 'Abbalige' and hold 'Gummaṭe' a percussion instrument made of clay. The men folk dance in circle by beating the drum and footsteps of the dance while it moves in semi circular shape. Only on the day of 'Holy' festival such performance takes place at countryside. The men folk or the 'Holy' dancers go in group and dance in front of the lord and receive reward either in the form of cash or in kind. The collected money and grains are used for the grand festival on the 'Holy' day. The similar kind of 'Holy' is also popular in the Marathi Naik's ethnic group of Udupi taluk. They also use the percussion instrument which is called 'gummaṭe'.

It is believed that these people migrated from Goa and got permanently settled in South Canara. It is said that at Goa the Maratha people and Hindus were objectively forced to accept Christianity, and hence to avoid the religious conversion the 'Maratha', 'Kuḍubi' and 'Konkani' people migrated and settled in this region.

'Hooly' which takes place in the month of March is an important festival observed by the Maratha's and Kudubis. The kith and kin join together before the chief's house or before the temple on this occassion.

This festival is associated with certain rites like worshiping a coconut in front of the "Tulasi" shrine. After the rites of the initial day they set out on a dance tour in the neighboring villages. they return on the last day and get together in front of the community chief's house or in front of the temple and dance with merry, finally offer the worship to 'Tulasi' shrine, and share the food. The songs are sung in Marathi language while few are sung in Kannada language. The dancing troupe sings the Kolata" (stick dance) songs which are very melodic and the dance resembles the Goa Konkans "Dandia" (stick dance) dance form.

Suggi Kuṇitha

The festival dance of the "Hālakki Vokkaliga" is performed by men folk during the harvest season, the dance is called "Suggi Kuṇita" in the North Coastal Karnataka.

The "Holi" festival begins in the month of march, the dance starts on full moon day or 4 days before the full moon. Either 12 or 14 men folk move from village to village in group by beating the "Gummaṭe" (percussion) drums and sing fertility songs and collect the cash and grains. On full moon day they perform dance in front of the community house. The artist has beautiful costume and headgear made of softwood, decorated with many carved birds and flowers, which look like crown of fertility. The group dance is done holding sticks and sometime peacock feathers. Along with this the clown characters amuses the audiences. The minor comic characters are identified as 'Sōginavaru' or Hāsyagāraru'.


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