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Yakshagana Kendra has effectively popularised the art form

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IN ACTION: Students practising at Yakshagana Kendra in Udupi. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
IN ACTION: Students practising at Yakshagana Kendra in Udupi. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Ganesh Prabhu

It is one of the first institutes to provide training to students

  • It follows the `Gurukula' system of education
  • Troupe has given performances in the country and abroad

    UDUPI: Yakshagana Kendra, an ancillary unit of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) College, has made a name for itself by promoting and popularising Yakshagana in the country and abroad.

    Started in 1971, it was one of the first institutes in the State to provide training to Yakshagana students.

    An offshoot of the "Gurukula scheme" of the Union Government, the kendra became a reality, when the founder of MGM College, the late T.M.A Pai, showed interest in the project.

    The Academy of General Education, Manipal; the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Delhi; the Central Sangeeth Natak Akademi, Delhi; and the Department of Kannada and Culture sponsored it. Initially, the institute had three teachers and 10 students. The college management provided free accommodation to the students as funds from the Government were meagre. The Ashta Maths then agreed to provide free food to the students. Syndicate Bank and Canara Bank provided funds to buy costumes.

    Once the kendra became popular, it approached the State Government for help. The Government began paying nominal salaries to teachers and stipend to students.

    However, it was the late Ramakrishna Hegde, former Chief Minister, who agreed to fix a pay scale for teachers.

    The kendra follows the "Gurukula" system of education and offers a two-year course in Yakshagana.

    In the first year, the students are taught the basics such as costumes, dialogues, dance, make-up and episodes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavatha.

    In the second year, students take up specialisation in subjects of their choice. Yakshagana experts design the curriculum.

    Heranje Krishna Bhat, director of the Yakshagana Kendra, said that students undergoing this course did not have to hunt for jobs.

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