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Kannada Folk Ramayana – Short Essay

The Kannada folk Ramayana is based on the classical Ramayana. It has two important forms, viz., oral narratives and performances. The former gives importance to the story aspect narrated in a mixed style of singing and narration; the latter combines music, dance, acting, gestures etc. The story of the Ramayana, and the values propagated by it, are popular among the people in Karnataka.

In oral narratives as well as in performing arts, usually only one popular episode from the Ramayana is chosen for a night.

Burrakatha, Hari Kathe, Talamaddale,Kavalettinavaru, etc., are some of the important narrative forms in which the interesting episodes from Ramayana are narrated using musical instruments. The number of artistes in a troupe varies from group to group, depending upon the episode.

The performers use musical instruments themselves, while enacting the roles or rendering a song. In some cases there are one or more instrumentalists. In the performance of a popular narrative form of Yakshagana, Talamaddale, there are as many artistes as the characters of a particular episode.

Kamsaleyavaru uses large bronze cymbals as the main instrument. Tamburiyavaru uses tamburu while singing and Kindarajogigalu uses a flute like stringed instrument. All these performing groups are minstrels belonging to different traditions of folk deities.

Kavalettinavaru, a nomadic group, uses decorated bulls and cows led by them as showpieces in their performances. They use drums and a stringed instrument called mukhavine.

The performers sometimes take the liberty to sing a number of folk songs which though not directly connected with the story in the course of narration, yet connect with the theme of the episode.

The minstrels also change the names of some characters by connecting the folktales with the needs of the situation. The performers in their narration give greater emphasis to the hardship experienced by the female characters. The attention of audiences is held by suitable changes in the course of the narration. For instance, during their exile Rama and Lakshmana helped Sita in her cooking. The heroic deeds of these characters are also stressed.

Yakshagana, Togalubumveyata and Doddata are some of the important and popular dance drama genres in Karnataka.