New Vistas to Yakshagana
|Propagation and preservation of traditional arts is one of the challenges of modern world which is fast changing, making everything transient in the worldly sense. Yakshagana is a rare and unique traditional theatre of Karnataka State in India and has a recorded history of more than five centuries. Being a rich artistic blend of racy music, forceful dance, extempore speech and gorgeous costumes, this art combines the features of opera as well as drama, the characteristics of moral education and mass entertainment. In fact, perhaps, Yakshagana of the Coastal Karnataka is the only theatre that reveals the features of 'total theatre' ('Natya' is a theatrical performance) as implied in Bharata's 'Natya Shastra'. Unfortunately, for lack of effective propaganda and publicity (social and political reasons) Yakshagana has remained a lesser known great art.
Art cannot survive without generous patronage and art cannot grow without sense for good taste. Both thhese require concerted efforts of all art lovers. Being aware of these truths of art, 25 years ago an organisation called 'Yakshagana Kalaranga' came into existence in Udupi with the initiative of learned citizens like Dr B B Shetty, Prof. B V Acharya and Sundara Shetty. In the first two decades its activities were mostly confined to arranging Yakshagana shows highlighting traditional beauty and themes of Yakshagana. Yakshagana competitions were also conducted for the school-going children with a view to developing taste and ability in Yakshagana. Gradually the activities were extended to conducting seminars, lecture-demonstrations, workshops and honouring great as well as poor artists.
Of late, the next generation of organisers have come to realize that excellence in art, in the modern world, is unattainable without economic security for the artists. The Yakshagana artists put in strenuous effort in the nights during performances for more than fifty years for a meagre remuneration. In the evening of their life, in most of the cases, they are left with nothing but ill-health, poverty, misery and economic insecurity. Their condition is really pathetic as they are a disorganised sector in the society, unlike the organised workers in other professions. So the unbiased Yakshagana Kalaranga with sincere concern for the artists both Northern Style and Southern Style, has now extended its emphasis to the welfare of the artists in various ways. During the year of its Silver Jubilee Celebration 25 poor, old and deserving Yakshagana artists were honoured with Rs.5,000/- each. In the first 2 years it has provided Accident-Insurance to 305 artists, Manipal Health Card facility to 171 artists and Group Insurance to 289 artists. Besides financial aids were given whenever the artists were in serious sickness needing money.
Mainly with the humanitarian intention of giving succor to Yakshagana artists a charitable fund called 'Prof. B V Acharya Yakshanidhi' is now instituted. It is decided that financial assistance to the artists is to be given out of this fund or the proceeds of this fund. This dream will be materialised only when this fund grows to One Crore Rupees.
Yakshagana is a world heritage. Society has responsibility towards art and artists. Yakshagana Kalaranga with 550 members is a band of selfless, unprejudiced, devoted and dedicated workers and connoisseurs, who are fully aware of social accountability. Under the able leadership of Jagajivandas Shetty (President) and Murali Kadekar (Secretary) every farthing of public money is judiciously used and transparency in functioning and sincerity in approach have won them public acclaim.