Telangana

Three generations of Chindu Yakshaganam

Artiste P. Prakash with his son performing in a programme in Sangareddy district.

Artiste P. Prakash with his son performing in a programme in Sangareddy district.  

A practising Christian, artiste Prakash narrates tales from Hindu mythology

At a time when a number of traditional art forms are becoming extinct, Chindu Yakshaganam, a traditional dance ballet, has performers and patronage across villages of Telangana. One popular drama of this form is where Jambavantha — an important character from the Ramayana — explains Srishti Rahasyam (Secret of creation).

Under this, like a Q&A session, a character keeps shooting questions, and Jambavantha explains the evolution of the universe, birth of gods, Shakti Puranam, Pancha Brahma Jananam, 66 castes and 18 varnas.

School dropout

Meet Pillita Prakash, a Chindu Yakshaganam artiste from Bandaram village in Kondapaka mandal. Born in Chindu sub-caste, Mr. Prakash discontinued his studies in Class 10. However, he learnt Chindu Yakshaganam from his father Ramaswamy who used to perform it since his childhood.

Chindu artistes enact plays like Harischandra, Lava-Kusha, Shakuntala, Chirutonda Maharaju Katha, Balanagamma, and Bhu Kailas. Usually, these plays are performed in Dalit bastis. Often, they start around 10 p.m. and go on for about three hours. Some plays like Bhu Kailas, Parasurama Vijayam, Narakasura Vadha, Bhakta Prahlada and Sarangadhara are long in duration and go on through the night ending at first light.

Father to son

P. Itihas, son of Mr. Prakash, who has completed Class 10, also performs along with his father and plays characters like Lava Kumara in Lava-Kusha, Bhakta Siriyala in Chirutonda Maharaju Katha, Markandeya in Markandeya Puranam, Balavardhi Raju in Balanagamma and Vinayaka in Bhu Kailas.

These dramas are performed during summer and winter, while in the rainy season the artistes stay at home and make an earning by taking up different works.

“We come to an agreement with elders in Dalit habitations. Depending on the size of the habitation, they offer between ₹10,000 and ₹40,000, in addition to one or two bags of rice. We are hosted in the community hall where we stay for about a week and perform our plays,” Mr. Prakash told The Hindu.

“Usually, Jambavantha is played on the final day. Sometimes, the villagers ask us to play during the day if they have any schedule in the evening,” he added.

Though a practising Christian, Mr. Prakash and Itihas continue to narrate the Hindu Puranas, which they know by heart. “I converted to Christianity in 2012. Till then, I had been a Hindu. I learnt Chindu Yakshaganam from my father and made my son also learn and practise it. This is our living,” said Mr. Prakash.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:17:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/three-generations-of-chindu-yakshaganam/article28336009.ece

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