Friday, 4 November 2011

What women cannot do?

They have changed the history in politics. They have revolted up the norms by which they were bound all these years says Aknisree Karthik
Bangalore: How many of you know about ‘Yakshagana’- one of the most popular folk dramas of Karnataka which was performed by the men only during the 11th century. I guess most of you know about it. But how many of you know that even women can perform Yakshagana? Not many.
The traditional folk dance which was once dominated by the men lot has shifted its equilibrium and has reached the women. Yakshagana is a unique and rare blend of powerful music and vigorous dance, marked by vivacious foot work. Choreographic group movements coupled with colourful costumes and elaborate makeup creates an ethereal world on stage. Stylized extempore dialogues with folk and literary charm bring out the subtle nuances of the local language-Kannada.
Karnataka Mahila Yakshagana has taken the lead and has been conducting Yakshagana for females of all age groups from past 12 years.
“Initially women were not allowed to perform Yakshagana. We started about 12-15 years ago. Even when I was interested to learn this art there were no academies or institutions where women can learn Yakshagana. So we came up with this initiative of setting up an institute where women of all age groups can learn and perform Yakshagana” said Gauri K, secretary, Karnataka Mahila Yakshagana.
Gauri and her troupe are involved in the growth and development of Yakshagana. They have been staging performances in various parts of the state. A lot of women empowerment is happening.
“We always had that fear that whether we will be received well or not in our early days. We were discouraged too. Yakshagana was performed in a very orthodox way throughout the night by men in those days. We just thought why we women cannot enter this and make a mark. There are housewives, working women, college and school going girls, who are staging Yakshagana” added Gauri.
Here is Pavithra who is doing her 2nd PUC in Mount Carmel College. When other girls of her age are attached toward the western culture, this girl has set an example by sticking to the traditional Indian culture. While her other members are hitting at the pop, jazz and salsa dances she has expertise the art of Yakshagana.
She drew all her inspirations from her mother V Latha who is an employee at Reserve Bank of India. “I am practicing Yakshagana for more than 12 years. I drew my inspirations when I was doing my schooling. My daughter used to accompany me whenever I go to perform or practice this traditional art and she gradually involved herself in Yaksahgana without hampering her curriculum” said Latha.
When we asked about the future of Yakshagana with Latha who always manages to find some time for Yakshagana in spite of her busy schedule she said “Time has changed now, people look out in curiosity for us when they hear that women perform Yakshagana. It is sure to go places and if this art is introduced as curriculum in some universities it will be good”.
Even Sanjana and Sharavani too had the same story to say. They said “It is a good experience. We have dared to be different. We love doing it. There are some misconceptions. Many fear to take up this as they feel that the costumes are heavy enough to carry on. But it is not the case and we totally deny that”.
The themes of Yakshagana are largely based on Hindu epics like 'Ramayana, Mahabharata and tales from the Puranas. The makeup of Yakshagana artists are rich and differ with the character. They are closely related to the ornamentation found in the scriptures.
 It is the era of women. They are no longer looked like a commodity. There are no less than any men. Now you need to tell me what women cannot do.

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