Using Yakshagana for COVID-19 awareness

A scene from ‘Corona jJagruthi Yakshagana’ that has been uploaded on social media.  

The government has banned Yakshagana shows across coastal Karnataka and Malnad districts to prevent community spread of COVID-19. Using the forced holiday, a group of artistes near Mangaluru have shot a Yakshagana performance on COVID-19 and have uploaded the video on social media to create awareness.

The artistes, under the banner Siribagilu Venkappaiah Samskritika Prathisthana (Siribagilu Venkappaiah Cultural Foundation), Kasaragod, uploaded the 57-minute production on March 22, the day of ‘janata curfew’.

The video ‘corona jagruthi yakshagana’ got more than 25,000 views by March 24 on YouTube, said Siribagilu Ramakrishna Mayya, ‘bhagawatha’ (singer-cum-director) of the troupe, to The Hindu.

Incidentally, Mr. Mayya is also the ‘bhagawatha’ with Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Krupaposhitha Yakshagana Mandali, a professional Yakshagana touring troupe well over 100 years old which is among 40 odd touring troupes that have been forced to stop their performances now due to Corona scare.

The plot

The performance has used a puranic character ‘Dhanvantari’ to make the fictitious ‘coronasura’ (a villain) to run away from the battle field in India, thus ending the performance. Unlike in many conventional Yakshagana performances in which a spiritual force kills an evil force, here the spiritual force (Dhanvantari) does not kill the evil force but makes it flee.

Using the role of a student returned from abroad, the show highlights how the student who fails to stick to home quarantine, tests positive for COVID-19 and spreads it to others. When the disease takes the turn of an epidemic, the people approach the King who in turn approaches the Dhanvantari who fights the villain.

Well-known professional artistes Permude Jayaparakash Shetty, Madhuru Radhakrishna Navada, and Madhuru Vasudeva Ranga Bhat have played the key roles. A team of about 20 members have produced the show.

M.A. Hegde, chairman, Karnataka Yakshagana Academy, poet Sridhara D.S., and Mr. Mayya wrote the songs. Ganesha Kalavrunda Paivalike arranged the costumes. None of the participants took any remuneration for the production, said Mr. Mayya. It was shot in Paivalike, about 30 km away from Mangaluru, in Kasaragod district.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:31:20 PM |

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