Yakshaganam, the traditional folk art, is one of the oldest and popular theatre forms in these parts and was patronised by among others by the great king of Vijayanagar Sri Krishnadevaraya. Only a handful of artistes still nurture this ancient art form. Thirty-year-old Raghavendra, a science graduate from Giddalur who has specialised in performing the famous “Ardhanareeswara” half-man, half-woman) role, says “in spite of poor income we continue to practise Yakshaganam as we consider it a duty to ensure that the indigenous theatre arts thrive.”
Raghavendra told The Hindu that he had mastered the folk art from his father, who can play, among other characters, ‘Rama’, ‘Ravana’, ‘Bheema’ and ‘Krishna’ with ease.
Ardhanareeswara, a form of the fiery god with Paravti on the left part of the body gives ample scope for expressing different feelings simultaneously, says the thespian who also holds magic shows to dispel superstitions among rural people.
“We get the opportunity to exhibit our talent during temple festivals. But this is just not enough for our sustenance. The government should be proactive in protecting all dying art forms by providing financial support and organising cultural events often,” adds Raghavendra who was engaged by the district administration for leading the ethical voting campaign.