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Award for achievement

Yakshagana string puppet performance on March 10, 11 and 12 at DakshinaChitra

With the advent of spring, it is time for the Madras Craft Foundation, in association with the Friends of DakshinaChitra, to present the Virudhu Award for Lifetime Achievement and Excellence in the field of folk performing arts. This is the third year of the award which helps encourage individual artistes sustain their commitment to their specialised art form. The event has been scheduled on March 10, 11 and 12 at DakshinaChitra.

The award for 2006 goes to Sri Ganesh Gombeyata Yakshagana Puppet Troupe. There will be a Yakshagana String Puppet performance on all the three days.

Stylised presentation

The string puppet play of Karnataka (Yakshagana style of coastal areas) is interesting, both on account of its technique and content. The presentation is highly stylised since it has to adhere to the norms of Yakshagana Bayalata, one of the most remarkable among the numerous arts of Karnataka. The ritualistic rigour of the Yakshagana `Human Theatre' has to be observed in its original form and adept manipulators of the puppets seem capable of making them leap to life through dance, song, dialogue and a whole range of human emotions and passions.

These wooden puppets are about 18 inches high. Their costumes are exactly like those worn by the characters from Yakshagana Bayalata, with the same elaborate make-up, high and colourful head gear and heavy jewellery.

The person who infuses life into the puppet by dextrous manipulation is the `Sutradhara.' The content in Yakshagana puppetry, as in every other ancient performing art, is drawn from the epics and the Bhagavatha Purana. There may have been possibilities for embracing secular themes, but the older tradition still persists.

Master of innovation

Bhaskar Kogga Kamath, son of Kogga Kamath, is a graduate in arts. He is attached to this family folk art like his grandfather. He secured a three-year Young Workers Talent Scholarship given by the Central Government at the age of 18. He has demonstrated Yakshagana string puppetry at several national and international festivals and trained many students - Indian and foreign - in the art.

He has also innovated techniques of movement and manipulation of puppets by using rods and strings. He has introduced puppet animals and birds, new techniques in the stage-craft, new light and shade techniques, songs and narrations (interpretations) in Konkani and Hindi for the benefit of different audiences. The award will be presented on March 11 at 5 p.m. by V. P. Dhananjayan followed by high tea. The event is open to all.

The Friends of DakshinaChitra will organise a three-day Chettinad Theme Dinner to coincide with the Virudhu Awards.

It will be an occasion to buy traditional and contemporary Chettinad cotton saris and unique handicrafts and trinkets, Chettinad baskets and get to taste the flavour of authentic Chettinad snacks.

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