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Monday, October 22, 2001

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Entertainment

Myth retold


The Sneha Mahila Veeragase Tanda group was in full form recently at Dakshinachitra. The troupe from Yelahanka, Bangalore, presented their traditional, vigorous dance form as part of the Dasara celebrations to a select audience, students of the Semester at Sea, the floating university that had docked in Chennai.

The unique aspect about the Sneha group is that it is an all- women group performing a theatre form, which normally males perform. Veeragase, a traditional folk dance of Karnataka, encompasses human emotions. It is an expression of people's zest for life. The art form, like most, is based on a legend. It is all about the fury of Veerabhadra when he vanquished Daksha.

Legend has it that Daksha, the father of Dakshayani, bore great enmity toward his son-in-law, Shiva. He performed a yagna, for which invitations were sent out to all the Gods and celestial beings except Shiva. Much against her husband's wishes, Dakshayani went to her father's house uninvited. Daksha insulted her and unable to bear it, Dakshayani jumped into the sacrificial fire.

The news reached Shiva, whose anger knew no bounds. And that saw the beginning of the Shiva tandava, which is believed to have created a turmoil in the world.

When a drop of Shiva's sweat fell on the earth, Veerabhadra, the terrible one was born. He marched with his ganas and attacked Daksha and destroyed him. Daksha was restored after his wife pleaded mercy. That was when Daksha realised the greatness of Shiva.

The story is retold on stage by the Veerashaivas during the procession of Veerabhadra. The Yelahanka branch of Sneha Women's Association invited professional artistes from Birur to teach them the art and performed it. The group has been performing all over India and even performed in the U.S. recently.

V. R. DEVIKA

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