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Aati Kalenja - Fast Fading Folk Culture of Tulunadu
Melka Miyar - Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore

Aati Kalenja - Fast Fading Folk Culture of Tulunadu

August 9, 2007
Pics - Dayanand Kukkaje and Ganesh S Perla
for Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore

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Tulunadu, believed to be the creation of Lord Parshuram - acquired by him by flinging his axe (Parshu) at distant horizon - is known for its rich cultural traditions. The cultural traditions of the district are closely associated with the local weather and nature. Aati Kalenja is such tradition which has a connection with weather and changes in the nature which occur from time to time.

The month of Aati is special in many ways. It normally comes in the months of July and August. It is a time for farmers to take rest after sowing paddy in the field. However, rain does not take a break during this time. Mother nature is seen at its greenest in the season.

At the same time, the season is also conducive to the insects and pests to breed.  So man is more prone to sickness in this season.  It is on this background that man starts pleading and pleasing the nature to be considerate towards him.  This could well be called the origin of the Aati Kalenja cult in Tulunadu.

Aati kalenja is a traditional folk dance performed by the Nalke community. Kalenja is the name of a spirit who is in charge of the protection of the village-folk during the month of 'Aati.'

It is widely believed that by practising the Aati Kalenja in the form of a dance, one can win over the evil spirits. During this period the members of the Nalke community adorn themselves with costumes made of tender palms of the coconut tree, anklets, colourful clothes and a long cap made up of areca spate etc. They paint their face with different colours and designs, carry a parasol made of leaves and decorated with flowers, go from house to house and dance in front of the spirit beating a small drum known as tembare. The house-holder gives them rice, coconut, turmeric, charcoal etc.

This rich tradition is gradually disappearing in Tulunadu nowadays. One can see this folk dance only in the interior pockets of of Tulunadu, during Aati days. There may be various reasons for this.  But it is quite true that in the modern day we have failed to keep up and continue the traditions of yore.  It might have to do with our attitude of taking nature for granted. Unless some serious efforts are made by the present generation to preserve and nurture these kinds of rich traditions, the future populace will be nothing but a hi-tech generation which will have hardly any contact and touch with nature.

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Comments on this article
kusuma shetty, kambarWednesday, September 19, 2007
Aatikalenja is a best folk culture in Tulunadu.
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Dr Raj Hegde, PerthSunday, August 12, 2007
It is a wonderful article. Sorry to hear that our rich culture is slowly disappearing from the society. It is time to revive. Australia has discovered the rich cultural heritage of Aboriginals who are the original inhabitants of the country. Our Tulunadu needs a Museum and cultural centre to keep the cultural identity for the future generation.
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sathu, karkalaSaturday, August 11, 2007
fabulous photos. good write up. Melka has a keen eye for traditions. congratulations.
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Sandeep, UdupiThursday, August 09, 2007
great work!! I am missing all these...
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