Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kambli Kuruba

Folklore is the unwritten literature of a culture. It is a blend - a blend of culture and civilization evolved into a distinct form for expression.

While rustic overtones and movements are talked of being revived, there are a few forms which may die, unsung. The Dollu Kunita is one such. This is a popular drum dance from Karnataka. The men play on large drums decorated with coloured cloth, slung around their necks, beating on it as they dance. A combination of dance, music and song, Dollu Kunitha has the power to make the heart skip a beat!

H K Bhoodya from Gila Gundi in Shimoga, the troupe leader of the ‘Sri Kannada Janapada Kala Sangha’ says, “we entertain the urban lot with our dance not just to earn a few bucks but to keep our art alive. People hire us to dance at inaugurations and wedding parties.” An agriculturist by profession, this graduate’s hobby has won him laurels among lovers of the artform. He and his men have participated in many events all over India including the Miss World pageant held in Bangalore in 1999. They have also been featured in some Kannada film songs.
This artform is a legacy of the Kambli kuruba tribe of North Karnataka. The performing men are more often addressed as Beeras, devotees of the Beereshwara (Lord Shiva). The mythological story of the genesis of Dollu Kunita talks of how the demon Doleshwara, a staunch devotee of Shiva went into vigorous penance to emerge as the most powerful. This created unrest amongst the celestial people whose only refuge was Lord Vigneshwara. Ganesha devised a plan that saw him dancing away to glory. Hearing the thundering footsteps, Shiva who swells up with joy comes bursting out of the demon’s stomach. To celebrate this return of Shiva, the Gods stretched the pieces of skin on the sides of a drum - the Dollu. The bones of the Rakshasa’s hands made for the sticks.

The lyrics of Dollu Kunitha are more than such grandma tales and draw upon literature with shades of philosophy, moral ethics, history, etc.

The Dollu Kunita is sometimes used by the government for propagation of messages like family planning, illiteracy, health care and so on. While one person beats the drum and narrates stories or information, in the background others play the tala, flute and other instruments.

Lack of research, financial restraints and a total lack of publicity is leading to the slow death of this artform.


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