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Mangaluru: Art beyond boundaries - Muslim artistes excel in Yakshagana

Deekshith D V

Daijiworld Media Network– Mangaluru 

Mangaluru, Jun 24: Art has no barriers, boundaries or limits. Yakshagana, a folk theatre art which is mainly found in the coastal districts is also not restricted to one community or religion. The participation of artistes from Muslim community over the years has proved that Yakshagana has no religious barriers either.

Several artistes born in Muslim families have shown keen interest towards Yakshagana and have been excelling in this art.

Mohammed Ghouse, a resident of Kavradi near Nellikatte in Kundapur is one such name in Yakshagana art for the past five decades. Though he had initial hiccups from his own community and others, he did not give up his interest and decided to pursue Yakshagana.

To keep him away from Yakshagana, his parents sent him to Saudi Arabia for a job. He worked for seven years in Saudi but he could not control his passion and zeal for Yakshagana and returned to pursue his passion.

Jabbar Samo

Mohammed Ashfaq

As a Yakshagana artiste, Ghouse faced many hurdles to get his sisters married. Even his relatives refused to mingle with him and many of them refused to marry his sisters, he recalls.

However, he did not give up his profession, “Call it providence or Allah's will, all my sisters were honourably married into good families,” he says.

Ghouse belongs to Madamakki Veerabhadreshwara Yakshagana troupe. He has his own Yakshagana troupe called ‘Yaksha Saurabha Pravasi Mela’. He performs both in Thenku and Badagu Thittu Yakshagana. He has performed in lead roles as Veeramani in ‘Veeramani Kalaga’, Bhasmasura in ‘Bhasmasura-Mohini’, Jayantha in ‘Vidyunmathi Kalyana’, Arjuna in ‘Krishna Garudi’ among others.

He fondly remembers his performance with Yakshagana stalwarts like Chittani Ramachandra Hegde, Lakshminarayana Samaga, Govinda Bhat, Siddakatte Chennappa Shetty among others.

Speaking about conflict over religion and caste, he says, “Caste and religion is man-made. As I have the blessings of Allah and Hindu gods and goddesses, I was able to perform in Yakshagana. I will be in Yakshagana till my last breath.”

Jabbar Samo is another famous name in Yakshagana. He is a Yakshagana artiste from four decades.

He hails from Sampaje in Sullia taluk. Son of Sampaje Mohammed, he was born in a village called Sampaje in Sullia taluk in 1963. When Jabbar was studying at Kallugundi primary school at Sampaje, many Yakshagana programmes were being staged in the surroundings of Kallugundi, Sampaje which inspired Jabbar to become Yakshagana artiste.

Jabbar recalls the appreciation of Yakshagana great performers like Sheni Gopalakrishna Bhat, Malpe Ramadasa Samaga, Kumble Sundar Rao, Siddakatte Chennappa Shetty among others to his extraordinary talent of debate in Yakshagana.

Another Muslim artiste in Yakshagana is Mohammed Ashfaq Hussain who was trained in Yakshagana in Alva's College Moodbidri. Hussain who is 22 year old had scored 90 percent marks in SSLC examination and joined Alva's college Moodbidri as he learnt that college has been giving more importance to study Yakshagana.

He performs female role in Yakshagana. He even won award for best female role in the inter-collegiate competitions. He has performed as Laksmi in ‘Sudarshana Vijaya’, Malini in ‘Devi Mahathme’ among others. Ashfaq has been trained both in Thenku and Badagu Thittu Yakshagana dance.

“There is no barrier of religion in any art form including Yakshagana. One should not stay away from any art considering their caste, community or religion,” he says.  

Comment on this article

  • Rajesh, Mulky

    Tue, Jun 28 2016

    Most of the readers remember good old days of unity and love, then they sure know what happened in recent years to damage this unity and who did it and still corrupting our youth by false propaganda using even media and organisations.Lets weaken this people and keep our kids away from these elements...

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  • Rems, Mangaluru

    Sat, Jun 25 2016

    Yakshagana is one of the finest art forms in the world. Unfortunately it is a taboo among muslims and christians as it is considered worship of devil which is not true. Yakshagana stories are very interesting and their performance on stage is out of this world. It's time we recognize its importance.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • b k rao, Mangluru

    Sat, Jun 25 2016

    Art, culture has no barrier of religion.

    Religion should not engulf full personality. Many muslims are very famous hindustani musicians. Jesudas, a christian, is a very famous carnatic musician.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Wilson Saldanha, Shirthady/ Kuwait

    Sat, Jun 25 2016

    I still remember those days during 70-80's we used to go to watch Yakshagana after 12 mid night after 4 hours sleep at home as real story used to start at that time. “pundu veshadhari” Christian Babu was one of the famour artist at that time who was belongs to christian community. Popular artists Bhandary and Polali Lokayya has openly admitted that they were inspired and trained by Christian Babu. In the 1960s 'Christian Babu was a big success on the yakshagana stage. However, his talents and success was not approved and appreciated by the Church authorities and many Christians, mainly because of their prejudices and ignorance with regard to this art-form. Later the mentality was changed and a Yakshagana on Jesus was played with the support of churches.

    Yakshagana is an art with dance and drama and really has no boundary of religion.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vasant Raj, Mangalore / Abudhabi

    Sat, Jun 25 2016

    Yakshaganam Gelge....

    DisAgree [1] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Suraj Shetty, Karkala/ Dubai

    Sat, Jun 25 2016

    I know many Byari friends who enjoy watching Yakshagana, Many of them are even good at performing off stage. I kindly request all Byari people to join us in our sports like Kambala and traditions like Bhoota Kola as its is very much part of their culture as they belong to Tulunadu region itself. Let us join together to save our land, our culture and tradition. I request my Christian brothers and sisters as well. We will be a stronger as one. Jai Tulunadu.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • wilfred e.pinto, mangaluru/america.

    Fri, Jun 24 2016


    DisAgree [1] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse


    Fri, Jun 24 2016

    There is no barrier of religion in any art form including Yakshagana.Even i am very fond of Yakshagana this our Tulunadu Culture..We are organising Yakshagana in our native places from my childhood we are organising yakshagana in our native places.Even today under leadership of Mr Sham Bhat IAS we are organising and participateing Yakshagana and Tala Maddale programme. Even our native so many Muslims and RC s participating and organizing Yakshagana.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [73] Reply Report Abuse

  • jagdish, Mumbai.UAE

    Fri, Jun 24 2016

    When i read your comments... my eyes filled with tears, Reason when i was in school i had many Muslim and Christian friends, we celebrated all festivals visiting their houses.. We are one nation.. Tulunadu is one that is the spirit Brother.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [59] Reply Report Abuse

  • rose, mlore dubai

    Sat, Jun 25 2016

    wow ...its really nice to know ......

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • rose, mlore dubai

    Sat, Jun 25 2016

    wow ...its really nice to know ......even I am very fond of yakshagana being a Christian

    DisAgree Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ummar, Udupi, Dubai

    Fri, Jun 24 2016

    Yakshagana artist Mohammed Gouse is my relative and my good friend as well. He lives in remote area of Kavrady with in limits of Kandlur. As I know him very well he is mingle with all and very friendly with all his relatives.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [67] Reply Report Abuse

  • Harish, Kadaba

    Fri, Jun 24 2016

    It was quite common in our school days every Saturday Mass bhajans, Dasara sharada pooja, We too enjoy their bakrid, christmas celebration. Enjoying kadri mela aatas with lot muslim friends, Now.......

    DisAgree [2] Agree [63] Reply Report Abuse

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