DOLLU KUNITHA- KARNATAKA

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DOLLU KUNITHA DANCE, KARNATAKA, INDIA

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Renowned for being both “entertaining as well as spiritual” is an Indian folk dance known as Dollu Kunitha. This “Drum dance” is said to have originated from the southern state of Karnataka. Apparently, this dance form is performed in honour of Lord Beeralingeswara, an avatar of Lord Shiva. In addition, this dance form is essentially performed via a group, and involves swift body movements. Furthermore, this dance form is performed by mainly a community in the state of Karnataka known as “Kuruba Gowdas”.

a. History/origin of the Dollu Kunitha:

The origin of this dance form is closely associated to a popular folklore linked to Lord Shiva. According to this legend, a demon called Dolla asura used to worship Shiva with utmost devotion. So in response to this devotion, Shiva decided to appear before the demon and asked him what as to what boon would he like to be granted. Now being arrogant, this demon wished that he could either be allowed to swallow Shiva or be granted the power of immortality.  Unfortunately, both these rather obnoxious demands were rejected by Shiva. The rejection enraged the demon and in turn he swallowed Shiva in anger. It was while in the stomach that Shiva gradually expanded in size thereby causing a lot of discomfort (in the form of pain) to the demon. Unable to bear the pain, the demon requested Shiva to exit his stomach. In turn he (Shiva) accepted the request and finally managed to exit the stomach of the demon, in the process killing him. It was after the slaying of this demon that Shiva then used the skin of the asura (demon) to manufacture a “dollu/drum” which was gifted to his ardent devotees. It was these devotees then that created a dance form in honour of Shiva (using dollu as a key musical instrument) which was eventually called “Dollu Kunitha”.

b. Costumes used in the Dollu Kunitha:

The costume of this essentially male oriented dance include a bare upper body, a black sheet rug tied around the waist, and a dhoti/sarong that covers that lower half of the body.

c. Music used in the Dollu Kunitha:

In terms of the music, the major musical instruments include the tala, tappadi, trumpets, gong, and flute. While the major instrument used to produce music for this dance form is the Dollu i.e. a type of drum. Additionally, in this dance form the music is also accompanied by high pitch singing of songs called “Dollu”.

d. Training availability and dance technique involved in the Dollu Kunitha:

The technique used in this dance form essentially involves a group of performers forming a semi-circle, and dancing to the vigorous beating of the drum led by a man (leader) positioned at the centre. In addition, this dance style also involves rapid and supple body movements. Furthermore, this form of folk dance is essentially passed from one generation to another, and hence there are no schools/centres available in the country or the state for all those interested in learning this dance form filled with “mystique”.

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