Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kuruba Event 5 - Guddadayya Dance

Kuruba Gowdas of Karnataka have a rich culture and traditions. They have the most amazing forms of dance and festivals, which no other single community in India has. These festivals, fairs and dances showcase the richness and diversity of the community. They also show that the Kuruba Gowda community are the original and the first inhabitants of the land and from which various other communities branched out over many centuries.

One such festival is the "Beereshwara" festival of Medlleri[ಮೇಡ್ಲೇರಿ] village in Ranebennur taluk of Haveri district in Karnataka. About 2 lakh people from the surrounding villages and towns descend onto this small village every year to celebrate the festival of Beereshwara, the community deity of Kurubas. This festival runs for seven days in the month of February every year. The devotees perform various festivities, they bring their sheep's with them to be sacrificed to the god for their well being.

Interestingly the sheep's are not sacrificed to the deity by beheading, but by slicing open their stomachs. I have not heard this type of sacrifice anywhere else in India, this again points towards the ancient origins of the community, wherein the crude practices of the nomadic ancient human beings being still followed in modern times. It also indicates the continuity of the Kuruba community from nomadic first humans to the modern era. A costum followed continuously without break for thousands of years.

  After sacrificing the sheep's comes the most interesting part, the 'Guddadayya Dance'. This dance is performed by the "Goravas", "Dalavoys" and "Eergaras" belonging to the Kuruba Gowda community. These people hold a bamboo stick in their hands and dance to the music of Dollu (drum) beats. The drum beaters encircle the dancers holding the stick and dance according to the sounds being made by the drummers.

This amazing dance, drum beating and show of strength was a way of keeping the wild animals away fro their herds of sheep in ancient times and also a warning to the enemy tribes about the strength of Kuruba Gowdas. This warrior like dance indicates the genesis of the Kurubas from sheep farmers defending their herds from wild animals to the great builders of kingdoms like "Mouryas", "Pallavas", "Vijayanagara Empire" and many more.

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