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R.K.
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Event A state-wide Harikatha festival performed at 12 cities saw a revival in interest in the art form.

Bringing culture backGrowing interest in the Harikatha art form
Bringing culture backGrowing interest in the Harikatha art form

It's quite refreshing to note that despite all the hue and cry about the near loss of our ethnic culture , many protective wings have developed in the recent past to nurture our heritage by presenting and propagating it. The revival process has begun and that's a welcome phenomenon; not just classical music (Carnatic or Hindustani) or dance and drama but old street entertainment like Burrakatha and Harikatha which are on the verge of extinction are seeing a revival of interest. A number of young trained women artists have also courted the Harikatha (a dramatic solo rendition of mythology) and are engaged in presenting theart with gusto. Also, audiences , throng these performances which were in a hiatus for a decade or so for want of patrons and practitioners.

Harikatha, as a genre owes its existence to none other than Ajjada Aadibhatla Narayana Dasu (1864-1945), a linguistic scholar and poet-musician extraordinaire of his times known for his creativity in the field of literature and arts. He was a guru extolled by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and many of our veteran musicians owe their first footsteps in arts to this great man of letters. The Harikatha gained ground as a socio-religious entertainment in those days and survived alongside movies which emerged as an alternative. But the additional advent of the television nearly annihilated this genre even on the rural grounds, but thanks to a few thinking citizens and artists, it has been resuscitated and put on a respectable pedestal today. Apart from temple premises, Harikatha has also made inroads into open air auditoriums both in rural and urban regions, reinstating the strength and depth of our epic tradition.

Harikatha narration is no cakewalk. It demands versatility, virtuosity and spontaneity along with knowledge of in mythology and perfect diction. The audience are held captive by the sheer dint of the artiste's merit.

In a welcome attempt to bring the Harikatha to the fore, a state-wide festival was planned recently with this art form being performed at 12 centres across Tirupati, Nellore, Vijayawada, Guntur, Vizianagaram, Rajahmundry, Eluru, Kadapa, Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Anantapur, and Hyderabad where it was on for three consecutive days. Under the aegis of Kinnera Art Theatres, eminent artistes across the state like Chirra Brahmananda Reddy, Vedavyasa Sriram Bhatt, Kota Sacchidananda Sastry, Neti Venkataramana Sharma, Bhavani Bai, Kaalla Nirmala, D. Vijayalakshmi and many others were drawn to showcase their exceptional talent and enlighten the audience. Popular mythological tales like ‘Bhakta Ramadasu,' ‘Draupadi Swayamvaram,' ‘Bhakta Markandeya,' ‘Srinivasa Kalyanam,' were treated to a thematic compositions .

R.K.

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