From Here & There

From Here & There


Yakshagana at the doorstep

It’s evening. A troupe of Yakshagana artistes with a gaslight in hand, enter a home, perform a skit for about 10 to 15 minutes, before they receive a token of appreciation from the family (rice and some money), and proceed to the next house.

This troupe, which calls itself the Chikka Mela visits homes and performs mythological episodes from epics such as Ramayana, apart from Bhagavatha and the Puranas.

The Yakshagana troupes in the coastal regions of the state start their Bayalata (open-air performances) at the time of Deepavali.

The troupes take a break from open air performances during the monsoon. Most junior artistes don’t have much to do during this period. It is here that the Chikka Mela comes in.

Such artistes form small teams like the Mela, and earn a living.

The inspiration for this Chikka Mela is a folk troupe in the Kundapura region, called the Makkala Hoovinakolu. There are two major Chikka Melas in the Dakshina Kannada region that are actively performing. One is headed by senior artiste Kateel Seetharamkumar, also called the Charlie Chaplin of the Yakshagana world, called the Tokur Chikka Mela, and the other led by Surendra Pai, called the Somanatheshwara Chikka Mela.

The Puttige Mela has been active fom the last 20 years, while the Tokur Mela has been active over the last seven years, and has completed 22,000 performances

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