India, a tapestry of rituals, terrains, and artistic treasures, cradles myriad places dedicated to preserving these cultural gems. Among them shines Yakshagana, Karnataka’s luminous folk theatre, bearing witness to the state’s profound cultural legacy. It’s a spectacle that, in its grandeur, parallels the magnificence of Broadway or the opera. Through a mesmerizing fusion of music, dance, dialogue, and ornate costumes, Here, families have been passing down the art of Yakshagana from one generation to the next in villages.
In the heart of Karnataka, nestled within the Honnavar taluka of Uttara Kannada district, lies a village named Gunavante. This village isn’t just any ordinary settlement; it stands as a beacon of tradition, dedicated to the preservation and propagation of the ancient art form of Yakshagana. At the forefront of this cultural preservation is Keremane Shridhara Hegde (natanayaksha). Not just an artist, but a legacy bearer, he is the sixth in his lineage to master and promote Yakshagana. But what sets Hegde apart is his unique background. Before delving deep into the world of Yakshagana, he pursued neuroscience.
In Gunavante, Hegde runs a Gurukula, an ancient Indian residential schooling system, where students immerse themselves in the world of Yakshagana. Under his tutelage, they not only learn the intricate steps and rhythms but also the philosophy and history behind this art form. But Hegde’s mission isn’t confined to the boundaries of Gunavante. With his troupe of dedicated artists, he travels across India, showcasing the mesmerizing performances of Yakshagana. Through these tours, he hopes to spread awareness and kindle an interest in this age-old art form, ensuring that it continues to thrive in the modern age. You can comfortably experience the art form in Gunavante by booking a Savaari from Bangalore. In this article, we embark on a journey through the annals of Yakshagana, from its ancient roots to the intricate details that make it the mesmerizing spectacle it is today with his musings.