Performing Arts

Havyaka Performing arts

Performing arts, a time-based art form that frequently involves a live performance to an audience, have been a part of our culture since ancient times. They include numerous cultural expressions that reflect human creativity and emotions. This expression is expressed through traditional songs, Yakshagaana, and chanting of shlokas and Vedic hymns with prescribed pitch and accent.


Yakshas is a term used for the exotic tribes in Indian mythology who are semi gods or extraterrestrials and they guard the wealth of the earth. Gaana means song / music. So, Yakshagaana literally means song of the Yaksha. This performing art form is a traditional folk dance-drama. It is a unique theatre form with a rare combination of dance, music, song, scholarly dialogues and colourful costumes. With roots in Sanskrit literature and theatre, Yakshagaana has a recorded history of more than five centuries.

Yakshagaana performances are staged in open-air theaters and are a night long event. Though women are now part of some Yakshagaana troupes, usually men portray all the roles, including the female roles. Traditionally, Yakshagaana mela (troupe) travels from one place to another after the winter crop has been harvested.

Each Yakshagaana performance classically depicts a story from Indian epics - Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata, and more. The Yakshagaana costumes and makeup are unique to the art. Large head gear, ornaments, clothing rich in colour, detailed facial makeup, and musical beads on the legs. The show consists of two parts - singers and instrumentalists in the background called Himmela, and the foreground actors called Mummela.

The performance starts with the traditional invocation to lord Ganesha with dance and music. Bhagavata, the narrator, narrates the story by singing, backed by musicians playing on traditional musical instruments - chande (drums), maddale, harmonium, taala (mini metal clappers) and flute. The actors dance to the music, with actions that portray the story as it is being narrated. The dialogues are traditionally impromptu and are rendered by the actors spontaneously with the flow of the song.

This vibrant performing art mesmerizes its audience with the tradition of presenting a narrative through mime, gesture, dance, dialog, song, decor and music as a single dance-drama.

Traditional songs

Havyaka traditional songs are learned informally, within the context of family or community. Traditional songs are an integral part of our daily life and are performed to accompany particular activities associated with work, religious celebration, or social occasions. These songs embody the feelings of the masses.

The simple traditional songs are written to commemorate every event in life. It could be a festival, a marriage, or the birth of a child. Many traditional songs live in oral tradition; it is learned through hearing rather than reading. Traditional songs have unique meanings and messages. They frequently describe events from Indian mythology and significant rituals.

Vedic hymns

Chanting of classical Sanskrit Vedic hymns is probably the world's oldest continuous vocal and surviving cultural tradition. The tradition of Vedic chanting is masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. The effectiveness of the mantras or shlokas lies in their sound when pronounced. So, to ensure that the sound of each word remains unaltered, the complex recitation techniques that are based on tonal accents was passed down in an oral format from master to student for generations. The Vedas are chanted today exactly as they were several centuries ago.

The verses of Vedas are traditionally chanted during sacred rituals and recited regularly in Vedic schools. Apart from Vedic hymns, devotional shlokas, stotras, and mantras are recited on daily basis.

Video Gallery