The doyen of Yakshagana, Keremane Mahabala Hegde (82), passes away at Alike, near Vitla in Dakshina Kannada, around 12.30 p.m. on Thursday.

He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Hegde belonged to the “Bada Badagu” school of Yakshagana. He was the winner of the Sangeeta Nataka Akademi Award in 1991.

Born on June 30, 1927 at Keremane, he entered the field at 14 when he donned the character of Vrushasena in an episode based on “Karna Parva” of the Mahabharata.

The then Karnataka Janapada and Yakshagana Academy presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2005. He has been honoured by several organisations, including the Bangalore-based Gana Kala Parishat.

Hegde was not only a Yakshagana artiste, but also a “bhagawatha” and a Hindustani vocalist.

Dakshina Kannada Sahitya Parishat president, Pradeep Kumar Kalkura, has mourned the death of Hegde.

More In: Mangalore