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A unique folk dance

Rajiv Ajjibal


It is called Bedara Vesha

It is performed during Holi nights


Sirsi: Holi festival is celebrated in Sirsi town with a unique folk dance which has a legend of 300 years. The folk dance called Bedara Vesha (Hunters Dance) is performed during the nights beginning five days before the festival day. The festival is celebrated every alternate year in the town which attracts a large crowd on all the five days from different parts of the State.

Nearly 50 solo artistes perform the dance with a troupe of drum beaters, whistle blowers and the like. According to legend, after the decline of the Vijayanagar kings, the region was ruled by the Sonda dynasty.

There was a fear of attack from Muslim invaders in the Sonda region, including Sirsi (then Kalyanapattana). To protect them, Malleshi, a young boy from the Beda community and a warrior in the Vijayanagar empire, was appointed.

Initially, Malleshi discharged his duties well, dancing during the nights in a peculiar way on the streets. Later, he, with his men, became a troublemaker and womaniser.

The troubled public thought of teaching Malleshi a lesson. He wanted to marry Rudrambika, daughter of local leader Dasappa Shetty. Rudrambika, in the interest of society, prepared herself to sacrifice her life through marriage to Malleshi.

She threw a type of acid into his eyes while he was dancing on the night of Holi. Malleshi, who lost his eyesight, chased her with a sword to kill her.

However, he was caught by 12 people, and then burnt alive. Rudrambika also set herself on fire on her husband’s funeral pyre (sati). To depict this episode (as stated in the Canara Gazette during British period) and in appreciation of Rudrambika’s sacrifice, the Hunters Dance is being performed even today.

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