Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Women keep the legacy of 'Harikathe' for next generation

'Harikathe' the art of orally rendering tales and incidents from  ancient scriptures Ramayana, Mahabharatha and also from mythological texts like Purana, interspersing with interesting anecdotes seems to be gradually  losing its popularity in urban areas.

But a group of elderly women who are in the mid's of 50-60's are striving hard to keep the legacy for the next generation. The women who are professional Harikathe artistes are keeping the artform alive by performing across State and are encouraging youngsters to learn this.

Of the few women who are actively rendering Harikathe performances in public in the city is the 64-year-old Vasantha Lakshmi, considered to be the senior most Harikathe artiste along with 57-year-old Bellur Nagalakshmi, Malini, Vani, Veena, Subadra Parthasarathy, Suvarna, Banumathi Narasimha. Malini and Vasantha Lakshmi are Akashavani high grade artistes.

Age is not at all a barrier for these artistes. They can perform  Harikathe standing for hours together at a stretch. To update their knowledge they keep reading books in their spare time. The artistes say by reading various kinds of books they acquire knowledge so they can either narrate the story quickly or stretch it for a long time.

There common concern of all Harikathe artistes is that the interest of listening to Harikathe is gradually dwindling among the city dwellers, whereas just the opposite is true in villages and rural areas, where people still come and enjoy listening to the discourses.    

"The present generation is not interested in either listening or practicing Harikathe. To encourage this dying art the Government should come forward and provide a handsome honorarium for all the practicing artistes,"  says Vasantha Lakshmi.

Bellur Nagalakshmi adds: "Reality shows on classical music aired at   television channels is becoming popular these days. As a result most parents encourage their children to enroll for music classes. They should also treat Harikathe likewise and revive the art for next generation."

“Harikathe is a powerful medium to educate people and children alike about our past history, culture and tradition. But the the number of public performances have come down drastically except during special occasions like the Ganesha festival, Navaratri, Shivaratri, Ayudha puja and others. Some villagers still continue the practice of holding a Harikathe when a person dies in the village,"  says another artiste Suvarna.

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