Saligrama Yakshagana mela gets ready for golden jubilee tour


The Hindu., 11-10-2017 11:29:11


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Saligrama Yakshagana mela gets ready for golden jubilee tour

Sri Guruprasadita Yakshagana Mandali will begin its 50th year tour on November 19

When more than 40 Yakshagana melas (touring troupes) in the coastal belt will begin their annual “tirugata” (seasonal tour) from next month, Sri Guruprasadita Yakshagana Mandali of Saligrama will make the difference as it will be its golden jubilee tour.

Popularly called Saligrama Mela, it will begin its consecutive 50th year tour from November 19, by performing at Saligrama near Udupi.

A mela, which gave shelter to a number of well known artistes, including star “Bhagawatha” (singer director) the late G.R. Kalinga Navada, and late Shiriyara Manju Naika, is a team of 75 persons, including about 35 artistes. Senior artistes like Jalavalli Venkatesh Rao and Airodi Govindappa are still attached with the mela.

It is one of the two surviving tent melas (which pitches tent and performs by gate collection) which performs both “Bayalata” (sponsored one) and on its own by issuing tickets in its counter. Founded by the late Parampally Sridhara Hande, popularly called Yajamana Sridhara Hande, he managed it for a year and later handed over the mela to Palli Somanatha Hegde, a transport operator who owned a fleet of buses and lorries, owing to increase in cost. Mr. Hegde managed the mela for 17 years. Mr. Hegde’s the then teenager son P. Kishen Hegde took over its reins when his father expired. “I was a final year mechanical student at Nitte Engineering College then. It was inevitable for me to quit college even before completing engineering. My uncle Palli Srinivasa Hegde and the late Navada guided me,” Mr. Kishen Hegde, who now manages four other Yakshagana melas too, told The Hindu.

Death of its star “Bhagawatha” Navada in a road accident on May 27, 1990, did shake the mela for sometime as he was with the mela for more than a decade. In its 49-year journey, it also lost another star performer, Mr. Naika, who collapsed on the stage while performing the role of Parashurama in Bheeshma Vijaya prasanga at the golden jubilee hall in Manipal in rainy season. Mr. Kishen Hegde said that the mela now presented about 250 shows annually which included rainy season shows in halls across the country. Of about 180 shows during the November-May “tirugata” season, half of them were tent shows.

Though the detailed golden jubilee programmes are yet to be finalised they will be celebrated during the last 50 days of the present season’s “tirugata”, he further said.

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