By Swami Harshananda
Significance of Yakṣagāṇa
One of the best means of spreading religion, as spiritual evolution and ethical values, among the masses is through properly designed dramas with appropriate music and dance. Folk dramas with religious themes, taken mostly from the epics and the purāṇas, have been serving this purpose for centuries. The Kathakkalī of the Kerala State and the Yakṣagāna prevalent in the Karnataka State are two such arts worth mentioning.
Peculiarities of Yakṣagāna
- Though based on the techniques given in the Nātyaśāstra of Bharata, the Yakṣagāṇa has attained a strong local color.
- The artists not only dance vigorously but also sing and talk according to the roles they have to play.
- There is enough scope to show their talents through impromptu speeches also.
- The stories and themes are taken mostly from the epics and the purāṇas.
- A master narrates the story and also sings to the accompaniment of simple musical instruments in the background.
- Now-a-days use of the harmonium and the mṛdaṅga has become quite common. Even the modern stage set up have evolved.
- Costumes and make-up of the artists are very similar to the ones used in the Kathakkalī.
- Over the years three different traditions of Yakṣagana have evolved due to local variations.
- Mṛdaṅga means drum.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore