Folk Arts and Rituals

Dakshina Kannada district has various interesting folk art forms. Some of the folk arts and rituals might be forgotten by the locals if these rituals and dance forms are not given their due importance. Every year, Karavali Utsava procession displays some of the folk arts of Dakshina Kannada.

Aati Kalenja: It is the ancient folk art dance form in Tulunadu which is performed in the month of Aati. A woman or man will be singing the paDdana song beating the small drum in his hand. The paDdana will be related to the Kalenja.

Sonada Madimal: It is a similar folk art where a woman dances instead of Kalenja. But it is performed in the month of Sona. A woman or man will be singing the paDdana song beating the small drum in his hand. The paDdana will be related to the Madimal who dances in Sona.

Aati Kalenja with a rotating umbrella in his hand performs in Mangalore city
Aati Kalenja
Pili Esa and Pili Nalike: Is the dance of a group of men who paint with the designs of Tiger all over their body. As the drum beats faster, the performer jumps into action with the hands spread apart. The tiger dance is performed during Vitlapindi and Mosaru Kudike festival which comes during the Krishna Janmashtami. It is mostly preformed during the Dasara or Navratri festival. Performers go from house to house and are paid a good amount of money. On the last day of Dasara, the tiger dancers perform on the tableaux in a procession. A few years back tiger dancers had a evil habit of killing the sheep. Men used to throw them upwards and back after they bite and hold them with their teeth. The sheep were then used for a good feast at the end of Navratri. Karadi Nalike is the similar dance style but the performer wears an outfit of a Bear. It is an individual performance on the streets.

Goodudeepa: Goodudeepa is a lantern with different designs having a light in the middle of it.  They are made using different types of materials and colour papers. Every year they are displayed outside the homes during the Diwali and Deepotsava festivals. Tiny oil lamps made of clay are placed in line outside the houses during Diwali. The oil lamps add more beauty to the festival. Goodudeepa Pantha is celebrated at Kudroli temple every year. It is actually a competeition held to identify the best Goodudeepa during the festival. The lantern festival in the Gokarnatha temple is a feast to the eyes during the Diwali.
Goodudeepa Pantha - The Lantern Festival
Maari Deruni or the Maari Extradition: Maari is the word that is referred to the spread of epidemic diseases. The idol of Maari is placed on a small cart and dragged by people from village to village. The main intension of the festivity of the Maari pooja is to stop the spread of endemic diseases within the village. After the pooja is and brief worship the cart along with Maari is left at the outskirts of the village. Next villagers do the same and leave it outside the village. The ritual is still alive some parts of the villages in Western Ghats. The Mangaluru city’s educated communities have not much belief in this ritual. So, the ritual is not done within the city limits. However there are temples by name Marigudi where the worship and annual festivities are being celebrated from time to time.

Genda Seve or Kenda Hayuvudu: It is the ritual performed in a few temples of Dakshina Kannada. With the great belief on the particular deity, the person or people will cross over the pit with red hot embers of charcoal. No burns are seen on the legs or feet of the devotees after they cross the piling of red hot charcoal.

Thootedara or Agnikeli: Agni means fire and Keli means playing. Playing with fire is what really happens during the ritual Thootedara. This unique tradition encourages devotees to fight fire with fire in the temple. In the month of April, festival in temple takes place for more than 8 days. Thootedara ritual is on the second night of the festival. At the Kateel Durgaparameshwari temple, just before Mesha Sankramana day, in the night Thootedara takes place. Burning palm fronds are used to throw and hit at each other. It is a centuries old tradition which lasts only for 15 minutes. 

Kambala or Kambula: Is the buffalo race in which they are run by the participant in a slush paddy field tracks. In the olden days they were brought in procession along with the accompaniment of Dhol Nalike or the drum dance. It is conducted annually in from November to March months. Kesaru Gadded Balipuna or running and tug-of-war for men/women in the slush fields, have been the recent entry. Kare is the similar to the Kambala sport which is born due to the popularity of Kambala. More than 45 Kambalas take place every year. Traditional Kambalas are not held on Amavasya - the new moon day and on Sankramana, the day where sun ends his stay in one zodiac sign and enters the other zodiac sign.

Yakshagana and Taala Maddale: Taala maddale is the narratives of Yakshagana Prasanga sung along with the drum such as Mridanga and the Taala. There is no dance or drama performance in a Taala Maddale. Yakshagana is the dance drama performed by many artists wearing colorful dresses. Bhagavatha is a singer who sings from behind as the play continues with the talks by performers in between, at the centre stage. Devi Mahatme is one such prasanga played maximum number of times. Yakshagana is well-known as Bayalata or simply Aata. It starts usually after 8.00P.M. and ends in the early morning.

Kodi Eruni or Flag Hoisting: In any of the temples located in the Tulunadu area there is a tall wooden flag post, usually covered with brass, copper or silver sheets. Any festival commences by the Kodi Eruni ritual. The ceremony is represented by Kodi - the flag with God Garuda or Vetala. It looks like an image if it is Garuda or Vetala a tall naked man designed on thick cloth. Vetala or Betala is hoisted mostly in Shiva temples and Garodis.The flag post is called Garuda Kamba in temples where Garuda image with garland is hoisted. Garuda is hoisted so as to send an invitation to the other gods and their servants and let them know that festival is started on that day. Muhurtham is the auspicious time selected for the ritual, by the temple priests.

In temples, Yajna or Yaga is performed by burning the Jackfruit wood pieces and ghee in a Yajna Kunda which is just a square hole in the floor with rangoli designs drawn over it. Yajna is performed by saying the vedic mantras and hymns by the priests. During worship arati to god, sandalwood paste as Gandha Prasadam is given to devotees. Paccha karpura, a kind of camphor is diluted in water given to devotees as holy water or Thirtha.

Made Snana: Is the ritual performed by devotees in the temples. First the devotee takes a dip in the water in a nearby lake or river. Then, the devotee lies on the floor and rolls towards the left with joined hands. Then as the circumambulation in the whole inner temple area takes place the devotee prays for the wishes to be granted. It may sometimes be a Parake or a offering prayer for a blessing, like a fee paid for granting a wish.

Bhuta Kola: The impersonator called Mani is dressed up using the tender Palm leaves which is the indigenous vegetation. Face and body is painted and decorated as per the particular Bhuta’s requirement. Ani Kattuni- is the ritual when a huge curve shaped back shield is worn by Bhuta, dancing party of men called nalike dakkulu, Tembare is the small drum for PaDdana, a song sung in the praise of a particular Bhuta. the song contains the brief history and story of the worshipped Daiva or Bhuta. Tamani is the traditional drum for Nalike, the dance performed. After getting possessed the body of impersonator’s body starts shaking which is called as Meyt Barpuna.

Bhuta names: There are some 350 type of Bhutas worshipped in and around Tulunad region. It is a living tradition which dates back to pre-vedic times. Pili Bhuta, Lekkesari or Rakteshwari, Sri Brahma Baidarkala or Koti Chennaya, Okkuballala and Devanajiri are Jain Bhutas, Kodamanittaya and Kukkinattaya are Bunts, Jumadi, Malaraya Daiva, Annappa Daiva, Kalkuda, Kordabbu, Koteda Babbuswami, Kalamma, Varthe Panjurli, Kalloorti, Ullaldi, Panjurli, Babbarye, Mantradevathe, Posadappe, Vishnu moorthi, Dhoomavathi, Tanni Maniga, Arasu Mundattaya, Arasu Jarandaya, Lakkesari, Pili chamundi, Guliga, Bermer, Jatadhari, Duggalaya, Malaraya, Nayar Bhoota, Shiradi Bhoota, Sankole Guliga, Baggu Panjurli, Koragajja or Koraga Taniya. Bhuta impersonator may be Parava, Pambada or of similar caste.

Rangoli - The traditional art form with colorful designs: It is an art form in which the drawing of designs is mainly done by joining the dots.
Rangoli - the art form designed with rice powder
The white powder, usually the rice powder or paste is used. But now-a-days, the white stone powder or chalk powder is used, due to the modernization effect. Priests in the temple, say that the use of these powders is not good for the society as well as the families involved in it.

Mangaluru University plans to open a study centre for folk arts in the region. It will concentrate mainly on the games and folk arts of the district. The foundation stone has been laid for Rangamandira at Bondel in a land spread across 3.5 acres. To support the performing arts, Rangamandira will have the modern sound system and lighting. 

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