Karnataka has a rich cultural legacy dating back to the Roman Empire, and this can be seen from the similarities in the folk culture of Karnataka and ancient Rome. During ancient times, the land of Karnataka had trade dealings with various regions like Persia, China, Turkey and Arabia, and its art and culture spread far and wide across these civilizations.
Music, dance and drama are the very lifeblood of Karnataka culture. Ritualistic dances performed in Karnataka are its main cultural treasures. Some of them are Dollu Kunitha, Puja Kunitha, Devare Thatte Kunitha, Yellammana Kunitha, and Suggi Kunitha. Most of these dance rituals take the name after the deity or the symbol or the instruments which the dancers carry on their heads while performing the dance.
It was the Vijayanagara kings and the Wodeyars who patronized music in Karnataka and great singers like Purandara Dasa and Kanaka Dasa flourished during their reign. Hindustani music contributed to the culture of Karnataka and many great singers came from this musical genre in Karnataka.
Another most important aspect of Karnataka culture is its folk theater art called Yakshagana and Byalatta. This Yakshagana theatre form hails from the Uttara Kannada region and they are mainly based on the great epic Mahabharata. In Yakshagana, the dancers wear colourful costumes and perform with a variety of facial expressions. This folk theater is a unique combination of dance, songs, colourful costumes, music and dialogues, which keeps the audience enthralled.
Nagamandala is an elaborate ritual performed by the people of Dakshina Kannada and this is conducted extravagantly throughout the night where the dancers are dressed as nagakannikas and perform dances, which resemble the movements of a snake. The nocturnal ritual takes place between December to April.
An ancient art form of leather puppetry, which uses stories drawn from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, is known as Togalu Bombeaata. It is an ancient heritage, and is still performed in rural Karnataka. The local village people use this form of puppetry to seek a good harvest and plenty of rainfall and also to get rid of diseases or attacks by pests.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/11