Developed in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Shimoga, parts of Chikmagalur, and Uttara Kannada, Yakshagana is a folk art form that combines dance, music, dialogue, makeup, costume, and stage techniques in putting up a spectacular performance. It was traditionally presented from dusk to dawn. This art form is extremely popular in the city of Mangalore as well as other places in Karnataka. However, due to the nationwide lockdown prescribed by the center on the 25th of March, there have been no live performances of the art form so far due to fear of contracting COVID-19. While an increasing number of artists did take to social media and rode the media wave to get to their audiences, it lacked much in comparison to the conventional live performances.
However, all of this is set to change by the end of November as live performances are said to become vogue again. As part of the nationwide unlock being implemented, troupes and the supporting staff are bracing themselves to go back to their old way of life, to live performances. As the potential to contract the COVID-19 is still in the air, the troupes and support staff will have to abide by certain regulations pertaining to the same. Some of those regulations are that each and every performer gets checked for COVID-19 prior to their performances, every member of the supporting staff should also be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.
While taking care of one’s physical health is very important, mental health is also of equal importance. As performances begin in a world where people are reluctant to step out of the comfort of their homes, it is very likely that business will suffer. Therefore, artists are to brace themselves for the changes that the new normal will bring with it.
It was in a meeting chaired by Minister for Religious Endowment, Kota Shrinivas Poojari, that the decision to restart live performances of Yakshagana was started. In the meeting, he understood the hardships that the troupes support staff members were facing and addressed them. He called attention to the fact that because of COVID-19 they shouldn’t run out of a means of living. With that in mind, he has requested an aid package to help the performers cope with the loss of having run of out a job in the past few months.
Ordinarily, Yakshagana performances would start in the month of May but this year due to the unforeseen advent of the pandemic, it has been pushed back to November. However, there is still hope left in the hearts of the Yakshagana artists of being able to perform in front o their audiences and sharing their talents far and wide.