Kole Basava bull is trained to entertain

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Last Updated 24 April 2012, 18:17 IST

The tradition of Kole Basava, the folk art in which bulls of local Indian breed are trained to entertain people is a time-hounoured practice which has survived to this day.

“Kole Basava” is an adorned bull with his multi-coloured embellishments accompanying his master.

They are nomads who go from house to house blessing people in exchange for clothes or food.
The master demonstrates a trick. He asks questions to the kole basava and it nods it head to answer yes or no. Kole Basava has also become a synonym for a person who nods his head for everything in acceptance

Gandhi Nagar near Gownipalli village of Srinivaspur taluk is well-known for Kole Basava. It provides livelihood for over 180 artistes. Taming and training the bull is a skilled occupation for the people here.

In summer the Kole Basava artistes travel around Kolar and Chikkaballapur district with their performing bulls and accept grains, clothes and money from the people.

Once they leave the village they take along with them their sheep, goat, fowl and pair of bullocks.

Elders and children are taken in a bullock cart and they live under trees in border of the village. The village where they go alone can support them. Fodder for the cattle too has to be provided by the generosity of the people.

The kole Basava is taken great care of by it master because it fills their feeding bowl.  During performance the bulls are gaily dressed, colourful ribbons are tied to the horns and are capped at the tips.

Anklets are tied to its legs and a bell around its neck.

The most common skit they enact is Seetharama Kalyana (the episode of the marriage of Seetha with Rama) using a bull and a cow. Parts of the epic poem is adapted to the requirement of the skit.
The skit is passed orally from generation to generation. The emphasis is on humour.

The bulls also performs stunts. A heavy bull stands on the stomach of a person. A wind instrument and a percussion instrument provides soothing music. Old films are often played. These days they even play latest songs.

Women of the village offer ragi, paddy, chillies, salt and tamrind. They even worship the bulls with turmeric, vermillion, agarbathi.

The skit generally takes place at night. During the day they go from door-to-door seeking alms, food and clothes. By afternoon they are ready to go to the next village.

(Published 24 April 2012, 18:17 IST)

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