Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Mysore is the first city to launch it

In spite of the recent technological advances like the mobile phones, personal computers and portable hand-held laptops have made communication simpler, faster and far-reaching with information on finger tips, Television and Radio still continue to play a major role in dispensing community education programmes to the masses in addition to performing their traditional roles of providing infotainment — information and entertainment. For the first time, a community radio service was started in Mysore on a pilot basis some time ago.

The service was started only at select public parks in the city, broadcasting programmes related to education and enter-tainment, which can be heard through speakers installed at certain vantage points in the park. People who regularly visit parks for a stroll to relax and get some fresh air invariably begin to brood over their worries after taking a few steps. If instead the air is filled with lilting music or a few words of encouragement it helps the walkers. This is exactly what the newly introduced community radio services are presently doing.

Community radio broadcasting was first introduced in the city’s public parks at Sanjeevini Park near Kamakshi Hospital a couple of years ago. The residents of the localities visiting these parks can now listen to informative programmes that are being broadcast and heard through speakers just as they stroll around or sit on the benches. In addition to this, awareness programmes on various subjects are also broadcast.

Introducing community radio services in the city was jointly conceived by AIR, famously known as Mysore Akashvani and the Mysore City Corporation nearly 15 years ago and was implemented at a couple of places. But the project failed to take off due to space constraints and lack of dedication in organising and maintaining the setup, resulting in a premature demise.

However, to revive this and give another lease of life for this people-friendly project, Corporators M.V. Prasad and Nandish Preetham are doing good jobs in their wards. One of the city’s oldest parks, Thagadur Rama-chandra Rao park near Chamu-ndipuram Circle, the Snake Park in Vidyaranyapuram and the Ramalingeshwara Park and Sanjeeveni Park, are the three parks that were radio-networked to simultaneously broadcast radio programmes.

As a first step, these parks were cleaned and pruned to enable people visiting these parks to walk around freely. Arrangements were then made to simultaneously broadcast the same radio programme in all the parks. As people walked around inhaling whiffs of fresh air, they listened to the melodious music soothing the strained nerves and making their early morning or late even-ing walks even more pleasurable.

Different programmes are planned keeping in mind the tastes of diverse age group people who visit these parks daily, broadly classified as youth, students, women, elderly and senior citizens. While issues related to health, like medicine and fitness are broadcast in the mornings, entertainment and dramas are aired in the evenings. Classical music, film songs and news are also aired frequently. Thus the programmes that are broadcast cover the entire spectrum of entertainment and information.

Arrangements are also being made to air programmes that sensitise people towards social issues and create awareness about the various welfare measures taken up by the government. Information on various projects implemented by the local bodies like the City Corporation and the Government, educative programmes like maintaining hygiene and cleanliness, timely payment of taxes, keeping the city roads clean, information on waste management and preserving public utility services are some of the programmes that are aired. This also helps in educating people who visit these parks for relaxation.

There are even plans of inviting residents of the locality who have achieved excellence in their professions to deliver talks on this community radio. Professionals from all walks of life including sports, science, politics, social service and others would be invited to give lectures and motivate people. These radio broadcasts not only help talen-ted people to get their due recognition but also help the community to grow with their knowledge and experience.

Due attention is also being given to promote home grown products using this wonderful opportunity. Experts will be invited to give talks related to manufacture of home made products and growing vegetab-les in their backyard alongside some herbal medicines.

Another interesting feature that is being added is the construction of small podiums for holding cultural programmes which are being rented out to local artistes at nominal prices to conduct programmes of their choice. This also helps to nourish and encourage local talents. Arrangements are being made to set up TV screens and beam educational programmes which too serves for the growth of the community.

Garden Speakers

When listening to broadcasts like music, radio talks, sports commentaries etc., outdoors on a regular basis, garden speakers are used. Garden speakers are designed to withstand the harsh elements of nature. They come in various shapes and sizes.

They can be placed quite visibly along the side-walks or cleverly concealed among the flowers and shrubs in the garden or disguised to look like a tree stump or a large rock. The normal practice is to connect several such speakers to a single amplifier with the connecting wires running underground. It was first installed in Brindavan Gardens at KRS.

About Community Radio

Community radio is a type of radio service that offers a third model of radio broadcasting beyond commercial and public service. Community stations can serve geographic communities and communities of interest. They broadcast content that is popular to a local/specific audience but which may often be overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters. Community radio stations are operated, owned, and driven by the communities they serve. Community radio is not-for-profit and provides a mechanism for facilitating individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own diverse stories, to share experiences, and in a media rich world to become active creators and contributors of media.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


When my friends invited me to join them on a trip to a hill named Mullayanagiri, near Chikkamagalur, I immediately jumped at the opportunity, as watching nature has never failed to stop me on my track, making me forget all my worries and miseries for a moment and filling my heart with an indescribable delight. I got into the car anticipating the joy I would feel on reaching the peak. Without wasting time from Chikkamagalur, we directly headed towards Mullayanagiri, situated about 23 km from Chikkamagalur town.

Mullayanagiri Hill lies in the Bababudangiri mountain ranges. Standing at 1930 mt (6317ft above mean sea level), it is the tallest peak in Karnataka.

Having a salubrious climate round the year, it is also one of the most sought-after trekking routes in the State. Though the road to the top of the hill is quite narrow, it is worth taking the risk, simply for the thrilling experience it offers. Fortunately and quite surprisingly, the road from Chikkamagalur to Mullayanagiri is very good. But one has to be careful while driving as the narrow road to the temple makes two-way traffic dangerous.

The roadside route is lush with greenery as there are a number of coffee estates along the way. We traversed right in the middle of the lofty mountains, the aromatic eucalyptus forests, pine, cyprus and the tall silver oak trees clasping the earth preventing from erosion along the fragile slopes.

After driving another 10 km, we arrived at a crossroad diverging along two routes, one towards Mullayanagiri and other towards Bababudangiri where the famous Datta Peeta is located. We took the left taking us to the peak. After traversing a few kilometers, we stopped at a point to enjoy the breathtaking view of the mountainside. It was a double treat to the eyes and soul. The cloudy skies, damp surroundings and the smell of moist air due to the intermittent drizzle made the whole view even more enjoyable. I left that place quite reluctantly with a heavy heart and a feeling that this is where I truly belong.

As our car swerved around the last hair-pin bend, it was getting too difficult to climb the slope even in the first gear. With wide-open eyes I looked at the receding depths, as if enjoying a scene from a Hollywood movie because, while reaching top around two kilometers, there are no boundary walls at the fragile points which makes driving exciting.

Landslides were quite common here, which became severe during rainy seasons, a fallout of massive tree-felling. Going around the hill, one could see heaps of piled up mud and dried waterfalls, all being the result of landslides. Usage of plastic is completely banned here. Warning boards and dustbins are kept side by side to encourage tourists to follow the norms.

Through the fog, I could see the hilltop with people climbing the narrow steps. Within a few minutes we reached the top to the base of the steps. It was a pleasant half-an-hour drive from Chikkamagalur to the Hill, with lush green mountains hearing the cascading sound of the falls from far beyond.

The panoramic view from the top literally made me breathless for a while. We felt like being on top of the world. Watching the beautiful green valleys down below with the cotton clouds playing hide and seek, I simply stood mesmerised forgetting everything. As the vehicles can reach only upto this point, we had to climb barely a few steps to reach the temple at the top. Climbing these steps was easy as the mind, after the drive through the lap of mother nature, had invigorated the body with a new energy. It took approximately 30 minutes to climb, enjoying the nature and its view at each and every step.

Upon reaching the top, I saw a small Shiva temple which gave the peak the name Mullayanagiri, "Mullayya" being another name of Shiva. Watching the small Nandi in front of the temple provided me some relief. I overheard someone saying that near the Nandi there are openings to tunnels leading to caves in the hills, though I didn't see any.

A small hillock in the temple compound is considered the highest point in Karnataka. It is an ideal place for watching sunset. It is said that on a clear day one can even get to see the Arabian Sea from the top of this hill. Though there are quite a few other hills nearby, there are no motorable roads and one has to climb to reach the top.

Taking a little detour on the way, one can visit Sitalayyanagiri, also a Shiva temple where there is a water spring with water flowing round the year. Also, we can visit Bababudangiri. All along this route there are no good restaurants, so it is better if one ate heartily at Chikkamagalur or pack some food items before heading for the hills.

One can thoroughly enjoy the experience of the caprices offered by the exotic flora and fauna by climbing this hill. Visiting Mullayanagiri will stay in my memory forever.

Routes to go to Karnataka's tallest peak:

From Bangalore: Bangalore - Tumkur - Arasikere - Kadur-Chikkamagalur (255 kms).

From Mysore: Mysore - Hassan - Belur - Chikkamagalur (180 kms).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Will the officials ever look into this?

Mysore, Nov. 30 (KR)- Four months ago, SOM had published an article titled Is it a school or a grazing ground? about the sad state of the Government Primary School in Jayanagar close to ISKCON tem-ple in city. However, the school continues to be in the same sorry state without any measures being taken to improve the conditions.

The authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to the sheep and cattle grazing on the school's grounds, which sometime wander into the classrooms. Intermittent rains have encouraged further growth of weeds and shrubs in the school grounds, providing fodder for cattle and sheep. The fact that the school does not have a compound wall further adds to the problem. In the morning, the ground is being used as an open toilet. In fact, as the school lacks toilet for the students, they too make use of the grounds.

With the mandate of providing quality education both under the Right to Education Act and the State Gover-nment's own primary education policy, the local autho-rities do not seem to be interested in encouraging educational activities in government schools.

According to the residents of the area, the MCC Zonal Assistant Commissioner and his staff have made no attempt to look into the matter. Sources in the DDPI say that the area officer should look into this. But this has not been done. The Area Corporator too seems to be oblivious of the school's mismanagement.

The school is primarily meant for underprivileged children. About two years ago, nearly 20 guntas of land was allotted for this school by the Government. But infrastructure work was not taken up. Though it is compulsory that every school must have a playground, the children are deprived of the opportunity. The Department has not even bothered to supply sports materials.

In spite of the school being located on the main road, there are neither traffic signboards nor zebra crossings. With heavy vehicles plying on the road, teachers help students to cross the road in the evenings. When this is the condition of the school, how can the student strength increase? Very soon this school too may be closed like the Lakshmipuram School. Presently, this school building has four blocks constructed in association with Mysore Round Table India-21. The DDPI's office told SOM that three months ago they had sent a letter to MCC requesting funds for construction of a compound wall and toilet, but till today they have not received any response.


Pottery dates back to pre-historic period. The pots were then handmade, burnt in open fires and generally served the purpose of carrying grains, water as well as storing seeds. Shortly thereafter, these pots were used for cooking. In the modern times, pottery has acquired the status of an art. Pottery can be classified under three forms — earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. Together they are called ceramics, which explains why potters are often referred to as ceramic artistes. Requiring tactility and involvement, a good ceramic artiste understands the tricky relationship between humans and clay. Clay can be temperamental and the act of shaping, heating, hardening, cooling and glazing take a lot of practice and patience to get it just right.

Clay, which is naturally available, has an earthy colour that can be altered by experimenting with the kind of clay used, ingredients added and by varying the temperature at which the artifacts are fired in a kiln. There are several steps involved in creating a ceramic piece and entire volumes have been written about the intricacies of this most ancient craft.

Pottery has made a big comeback in recent years with both men and women discovering the fun activities their parents once enjoyed in the '60s and '70s that also included sewing, knitting and woodworking. It's become big business too.

Handmade pottery comes in various shapes and sizes. They may be functional or decorative items. Clay pottery is decorated in several ways and some of the popular methods employed for pottery design are glazing, painting, engraving, carving, metal plating, varnishing and using glittering and colorful threads, beads and shells.

Whether working with hand by moulding pieces or on a potter's wheel, creating a ceramic piece can be a lot of fun. Bhuvanesh Prasad, a potter from Rajasthan has displayed his pottery works at Gandhi Shilp Bazaar at Urban Haat in Hebbal which concludes on Dec. 5. The humble artiste has lost count of the number of awards he has received for his excellence in pottery. In fact, his entire family is into pottery and have received numerous awards. "Both my parents are national award winners for craftsmanship and pottery. My mother is the first woman in India to win a national award in this field," says Bhuvnesh proudly.

Girirajji, father of Bhuvanesh, has even bagged the Shilp Guru Award from President Pratibha Patil.

What makes Bhuvanesh's pottery unique is that he doesn't use any chemicals or oils while giving them the finishing touch.

"My pots are made from natural terra cotta. For additional strength, crushed stone powder is mixed with terra cotta which makes the pots more durable. The finishing and glazing are not made using oil or chemicals. Instead, the surface of the pots are scrubbed with small pieces of stone picked up from sea-shores which gives them a natural sheen."

"I have displayed my art works in Dubai, Australia, Germany, France and several other countries and I feel very happy to exhibit my talent in this cultural city," says Bhuvanesh has created a 10 ft. tall pot using only clay which received a national award from former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

"I received the award in 2002. In 2005, I also won the UNESCO South Asia 'A' Grade Certificate in pottery from the Textile Minister," says Bhuvanesh. Winning national awards has probably become a family tradition in Bhuvanesh's case.

Not all his works are mere art pieces to be kept on display in showcases but can be used daily life too. "I have even made clay chulas and handis for those who still cherish cooking in the traditional way. Food when cooked in clay pots requires less oil," informs Bhuvanesh keeping today's health conscious people in mind. Some of his other creations are birdbaths, birdhouses, plant pots and foot scrubbers all made of clay. The price tag ranges from Rs.20 to a whopping Rs.1,20,000.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Fishes have a strange liveliness in them. It is indeed fascinating to watch these tiny colourful creatures with their eyes always wide open, resting only occasionally, moving around in the water with their undulating bodies. While some dart around with an excited frenzy, others glide around serenely, both creating the same palliative effect on the observer. Capturing it on canvas would be quite difficult. But for a young artist like Manjunath, who is presenting Matsyavarna, his solo painting exhibition on fishes, it is just easy as the fish's glide. All his paintings are based on a single theme — fish — portraying fishes of different hues and shapes in vibrant colours and movements in water.

The exhibition is open from Nov.19 to 27 and is being held at Sri Kalanikethana Art Gallery in Vijayanagar 2nd Stage between 10 am and 5 pm.

Hailing from Hassan, Manjunath is doing his second year BVA (Bachelor of Visual Arts) at the Fine Arts College in Mysore. He lost both his parents when he was just seven years old and it was his uncle J.C. Mahadeva Shetty, Principal, Kalanikethana School of Arts, who brought him up. "Since childhood, I was fascinated to watch fishes and even went with my grandfather to catch them in nearby lakes. This fascination prompted me to paint them on canvas in different colours and angles," says Manjunath speaking of his obsession to paint fishes.

He has painted several types of fishes like the Gold Fish, Red Fish and several varieties of sea fish including some representative forms like the Wood fish and Watermelon fish. "Though I have painted over 100 different varieties of fishes in the past four months, I am putting here on display only around 50 of them which I think are good" and adds, "As exhibiting my talent for the first time, I am also a bit nervous."

Talking about his experiments on the theme of his painting, he said, "I have drawn the skeleton of a fish. Giving life for that dead skeleton, I have made it look alive," and adds rather philosophically, "One can appreciate art better if one understands the nuances of art, like grammar which we should know to understand a language. Every painting is different from the other. The expo which is quite unique brings to life the artistic feature of fishes."

Continuing, Manjunath says, "I use all kinds of paints like acrylic, water-based, oil-based. I am also a graphic designer. I have much more to learn in this field and I love to teach this knowledge of mine to others."

Though it would not be possible to explain in detail about every work on display at the gallery, overall it is an interesting collection of assorted fishes with a strange liveliness to them. Manjunath can be contacted on Mob: 94818-21941.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Clay is one of the most common and naturally occurring form of soil on earth, comprising of fine-grained minerals that are the result of volcanic activity and weathering.

Clay is highly plastic and the degree of plasticity depends on the amount of water content present in it. Due to its plasticity, it is used in pottery.

Clay is the basic raw material for all ceramics. Ceramic objects are made by molding clay, glass and other minerals with hands into desired shapes and then baking it in a furnace at temperatures reaching 2000 degrees F. Ceramic materials are hard, porous and brittle. Not all clay forms can be used for making good ceramics. The most popular form of ceramic is the Porcelain which is made from white clay called Kaolin. Recent advances have made it possible to create ceramic objects without using any clay but with other materials.

Creating artistic objects in ceramics like figurines and statuettes along with various household articles like kitchenwares, ceramic bowls, pitchers, tiles and others, was an industry once confined to specialists but is no longer so. Though once considered as only objects of decoration and some having industrial and domestic applications, today ceramics has acquired its own distinctive place in the world of fine arts, while some artifacts even have archaeological importance.

Living amidst us in Mysore is a dexterous clay artiste — Leelavathi Indresh — who has been creating rarities out of clay in her own simple and primitive style and glazing them with colour by adding charm with a slight smudge in the glaze making it unique.

Leelavathi learnt the clay art work while she was in Shimoga, when her husband working with SBM got transferred there. "It was a one year course. Over the years, I developed my technique and made certain modifications in the process. I feel happy as I have trained many students in ten years. White clay is available in several shops and can be easily bought at Mannar’s Market in city. This type of clay is also reusable and is best suited for creating sceneries," says Leelavathi.

"Add appropriate amount of water to the white clay and mix it thoroughly till you have the desired softness. But it should be hard enough hold together when rolled into a ball. Break the clay putty and give it the desired shape with your hands before it gets dried. It can even be painted or decorated using markers or pens," she explains.

"The most characteristic feature is the colourful decoration which never fades or loses its beauty. Each part of the design is individually handmade. Instead of painting, sometimes colour is pre-mixed into clay. After clay is shaped and molded into final form, it is left to for a while to dry. Once they are completely dried, the clay objects get a life-like appearance. I take great pride in my work," adds Leelavathi who strives to offer the finest designs in clay. Leelavathi is equally good in many handiworks like miniature work, Rajasthani art, scroll paintings, Kerala paintings, mural work, Meenakari work, stump art, crafts from waste materials etc. She can be contacted over Mob: 97407-97907.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


What appears to be an ordinary looking, routine urban life on the outside, suddenly gets transformed into a mesmerising event when a photographer like Dr. Johannes Manjrekar captures a moment of it in close quarters, a unique perspective which goes unnoticed with our bare eyes. Want to know how insects look like when you zoom in on them or the petals when the flowers blossom in full? Then visit Suchitra Art Gallery at Kalamandira where Dr. Johannes Manjrekar has exhibited around 40 photographs of his collections, capturing moments of urban life — both natural and human. The exhibition will conclude tomorrow (Nov. 14) at 8 pm.

The photo expo aptly titled ‘The Little Life’, exhibits a wide range of contemporary photographs taken by Manjrekar. Apart from capturing people and architecture, his photographs are mainly about 'urban nature', which includes birds and animals that are often seen in city dwellings, but with special emphasis on the ‘little life’, the insects. The extreme close-ups showing the fascinating world of insects in cities highlight the plight of these creatures, accustomed to a green, ecologically rich surroundings, now turning fast into concrete jungles due to rapid urbanisation.

Born and brought up in Mysore, Dr. Johannes Manjrekar is a Reader in Biotechnology at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Gujarat. He studied at CFTRI School and DMS. He got his graduation in B.Sc from Yuvaraja’s college, Mysore, M.Sc from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Doctorate in Molecular Biology from the prestigious TIFR.

What initially began as a mere hobby, photography grew into a passion making him completely involved in it like a professional. "I was passionate about photography since my childhood and in 2006 when I bought a digital camera, I started taking photos, but of particular interest to me was the macro-photography (close-up photographs of small objects, sometimes also called micro-photography). Gradually this interest became more and I took it very seriously," says Manjrekar who is now staying at VV Mohalla. Speaking about the exhibits he says, "I focus mainly on insects and the life style of urban behaviour. Animals are few but insects are plenty and I love to capture these small but precious life. Accordingly, I have named my expo as Little Life."

"This is my second exhibition while the first one was in Baroda. The theme of my photography is how nature adopts and survives in an urban environment as the day-to-day life-style keeps on changing due to rapid urbanisation, which may be due to an increase in the number of vehicles plying on the roads or even pollution."

"In spite of our daily routines, one should cultivate some hobby. It’s really unfortunate that now-a-days majority of children don’t know how to enjoy nature. My simple advice is, just look around you there are so many fascinating things. Instead of harping on destruction of nature, one should first observe and feel it, only then we can save nature," says Manjrekar commenting about how fast city life has robbed us of watching and observing nature and adds, "I feel happy at exhibiting my talent in my home town."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Slum kids enthral passersby thru their extraordinary talent

Those of us who were moved by watching the movie Slumdog Millionaire would be surprised to learn that right amidst us is a group of slum kids who come together regularly in a cemetery and play musical instruments made from used materials, entertaining the locals while struggling to make a living.

Watching them wearing those soiled knickers with hair disheveled and casting nonchalant looks, one could easily mistake them as a bunch of rag-pickers one so often sees near the street corners. But they are a musical band of ten talented slum children who can play over 31 varieties of music with their instruments — all made by themselves from discarded items collected from garbage! Empty paint cans, writing pads, tin plates, torn leather are some of the materials they use as their musical instruments.

Their skills, completely self-taught, have come a long way from tapping away on classroom desks during breaks to observing the elders in their community play in the courtyard. They have honed their skills by practicing on the drum sets they themselves have created.

They exhibit their talents during school functions and on occasions like Ganesha festival. These children, with their extraordinary talents on drums, enthrall cricketers who come to play at Manasagangotri grounds, who after listening to their drum beats offer some small change as tips. Without spending it on anything, the kids are saving this money hoping to buy some real instruments.

They stay at Kudremala, a slum near Manasagangotri, adjacent to AIISH-Panchavati.

Whenever they find a piece of scrap that can be used thrown away in the courtyard, the kids collect them and turn them into small instruments.

The team comprising of ten members is led by Suresh who is studying ninth standard in the nearby Government School.

Ganesha, Karthik, Manuvardhan, Kantharaj, Kiran, Sharath, Raju, Darshan and Anand are the other team members. Being fans of Vishnuvardhan, they have named their troupe as Vishnuvardhan Sangha.

Speaking to SOM, Suresh said, "Whenever we don't have classes and if there is a cricket match on Gangothri grounds, we all assemble there and play our assorted instruments. After listening to our music, some will give money. I give away ` 1 to everyone and keep the remaining amount with me hoping to buy a musical instrument in future. We have collected ` 200 till now. Once we bought a new drum, but it is now torn."

These kids are equally good in playing Kamsale and performing Yogasanas too. They even beat drums while performing various acrobatic stunts like climbing one atop the other, lying on the ground, completely bending backwards or sideways.

"When I was studying in fourth standard, my father once took me to perform at a Ganesha festival. After the show, I was paid `150. Thrilled by this, I decided to practice it and motivated others to join me. Now we have 10 members in the troupe. We made our own drums by picking empty paint cans thrown near garbage heaps and covering it's top with buffalo hide. A trader named N.S.Kumar who sells drums helped us by giving the hide freely. We use dried plant twigs as sticks for beating the drums," explained Suresh.

He is equally good in his studies and also in drawing and dreams to join the Police Department while others are dreaming of becoming Music Directors and singers.

Speaking about their practice, Suresh says, "Our neighbours will scold if we practice near our homes. So we come to this open ground near our school whenever we need to practice a new rhythm."

Not all these kids attend schools. Raju, one of the troupe members has left school. He goes around homes doing odd jobs and earning money. He gives some of that money to Suresh. Suresh is well aware that they have to study well in addition to playing music well.

Lend a helping hand

If anyone having a broken or discarded drum can kindly spare it, these kids will use it to practice, as purchasing one of their own is beyond their reach. Also if some good samaritan comes forward and teach these upcoming young artistes who are very much talented, they lives will change forever.

Suttur Seer offers help

Meanwhile, Suttur Mutt Seer Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji, on learning about these talented children, has agreed to enroll them at the JSS Public School at Suttur which is providing free education to children from rural families. The children, irrespective of all religions, castes, creed or section, are provided schooling along with hostel accommodation.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Five generations and still going on...

Kamsale Kumaraswamy, 60, son of renowned artiste Kamsale Mahadevaiah, has been performing Kamsale for over 40 years and like his father, has created a niche of his own winning several accolades and awards of which Kamsale Kanteerava, Kamsale Kalashree, Kamsale Janapada Kalashree are the prominent ones. Kumaraswamy is the Director of Mysore Kamsale Mahadevaiah Folk Arts Centre in Vidyaranya Puram. Here are the excerpts from an informal talk SOM had with him.

Star of Mysore (SOM): What was it that attracted you to Kamsale? Did you take it up merely because it was a family tradition?

Kamsale Kumaraswamy (KK): I belong to the fifth generation of Kamsale family. Everyone learnt from their fore-fathers just as my father, Kamsale Mahadevaiah, learnt this from his father, Varkudu Nanjaiah. But my initiation into this field was solely because of the blessings of Lord Mahadeshwara, as my father strictly opposed me to follow the tradition and become a folklore artiste. Instead he wanted me to study well. It was my father’s beloved student, also named Mahadeva, who was instrumental in helping me to learn this art. It was during 1968-69 when my father was invited to participate in a programme that was held in Delhi, another of my father’s student who was jealous of him, tried unsuccessfully to stop him. But Mahadeva noticed it and he decided to take me in his place.

SOM interrupts… How old were you at that time? Did your father oblige and what about your practice?

KK: I was only 16 years old then. My father came to know that I was coming to Delhi only when I boarded the train. Mahadeva prevented me from informing him earlier as he knew he wouldn’t give permission. Seeing me in the train my father started scolding, “You haven’t got any practice and it is a national level event. It’s a prestige issue”. But Mahadeva consoled me and assured me not to worry.

Interestingly without my father’s knowledge I had been practicing Kamsale right from my school days. I learnt it merely by observing my father while he practiced it daily behind my school in Nanjumalige. I in turn practiced at home when no one was around. I had learnt it so quickly that I also gave a couple of performances at some school functions.

Again SOM interrupts: Was that practice enough for you to perform on stage at Delhi?

KK: Two days before the event took off, my father asked me to perform and I did a few steps. He seemed happy. I practiced the whole night and there was a rehearsal the next day. Seeing my performance my father was satisfied. It was my first stage performance in public, where I performed Kamsale in front of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastry accompanied by other dignitaries like Indira Gandhi, Devaraj Urs, Zakir Hussain and several others. I received a big applause making my father feel very proud of me.

SOM: Can you say something about the origins of Ka-msale and it’s various forms?

KK: The origin of Kamsale is indeed very interesting. In ancient days pilgrims had to walk in the midst of thick forests and climb seven hills to reach temple of Lord Mahadeshwara atop the last hill. Walking through dense forests they were constantly scared of the attack from wild animals. In order to keep their fears at bay and also frighten the wild animals they took two soap stones and struck one against the other making a sound while singing songs in their own style praising Lord Mahadeshwara. Thus began the Kamsale tradition when the stones were gradually replaced with convex shaped bronze plates.

Kamsale is performed in three different styles. One is Beesu Kamsale where performers dance and swing around acrobatically in the air, striking the bronze plates in hand. One artiste swings the lid with his right hand and slams it in the bowl in the hands of the adjacent artiste and in turn receives the other’s lid . It is usually performed by a troupe of 6 members. It is also swung on the head with circular or semi-circular movements, behind the back and between the legs. The other is the Margala Kamsale where the performer does Kamsale by tying long wooden poles to his legs. Finally there is the Kamsale Mela where the troupe comprises of exactly five members all singing and dancing in praise of Lord Mahadeshwara.

SOM: Traditionally Kamsale was restricted to performing during fairs and jathras at Male Mahedeshwara Hills. Do you have any plans to popularize it and teach it to the present generation so that it doesn’t get lost like so many other art forms?

KK: I along with my students are already into teaching Kamsale in about 30 schools all over the State. While training we give due importance for adherence of wearing the traditional costumes and teaching them without altering the basic dance form, though we may change the style of presentation to make the learning easier.

SOM: Your father, Kamsale Mahadevaiah was so popular that his name has become synonymous with this art form. What was so unique in his performance that made him so popular?

KK: His complete involvement in it. Even at the age of 80 he performed Kamsale. But his recitation of hymns, the dancing style and movements were so perfectly choreographed, it was appreciated by everyone.

SOM: With around 40 years of talented performances and having won numerous awards how do you feel about the response of today’s society towards this art form? Is the Government doing enough for the artistes or is something more to be done?

KK: Giving an award means encouraging that person but in a way this also puts a responsibility on him. I feel I am doing good job, that’s why they have awarded me. But what I have contributed so far is not enough and a lot more is needed to be done to bring Kamsale to international levels. Government should recognize the art and encourage it further instead of merely providing an opportunity to perform during cultural events.

SOM: Have you given any performances abroad? Have any foreigners approached you to teach them?

KK: Certainly. I have performed in Malta, Cyprus, Tunisia, Istambul, Rome and several other places. I performed at the international folk arts meet held in Rome in 1989 where my father was invited as the Chief Guest. Though I received numerous offers from several foreign countries to teach them, I could not take it up mainly due to the problem of language, as I can’t speak English. If I found any Janapada Vidwan, I am ready to teach at abroad also.

SOM: Can this be taught in Universities? If so are there any attempts made?

KK: I am already teaching about the significance of our traditional cultures for students of MA, Folklore. But I am ever willing to teach Kamsale for University students if I am asked to.

SOM: Why have women not taken up Kamsale performances? Is there any restriction for them to play?

KK: There are no restrictions for women to perform. Good physical fitness, disciplined life, dedication and a keen interest to learn are all that is required to learn Kamsale. It is very exhausting and the dancer must be very agile and unerring in every step and every swing of his Kamsale.

SOM: Though Kamsale is being revived with the State Government encouraging it, why is this rigidity being maintained in that this art form is confined to only festivals or as a part of some tableau?

KK: There is a stadium inside the Manasa Gangotri campus where they have constructed a podium called Ranga Vedike. The Vedike should be used to hold different cultural programmes regularly, so that the present generation will get to know about our culture. Kamsale will definitely gain popularity if it is held regularly, say once in a week, with assistance from Mysore University.

SOM: You have featured in films also…

KK: In Janumada Jodi I have only recorded a song giving a modern touch for the traditional folklore and in Vamsha Vruksha I have performed as a co-artiste. Apart from that I have acted in several films but all in small roles. I have also participated in the Common Wealth Games held recently. Our team was one among the five that was selected to represent Karnataka at the Games. I have also played in Aidaralu of Lingadevaru Halemane which bagged a State Award. I have also written scripts for various Government advertisement promos like creating awareness about AIDS, Saksharatha, Women Empowerment and others.

SOM: Can you make a living out of folk arts?

KK: No. It is indeed very difficult to survive only performing Kamsale.

SOM: Your life style and family

KK: My day begins at 5.30am with walking and a visit to the temple, as I am a staunch believer of God. Then begins my day’s routine, which ends with attending programmes in the evenings. Not breaking the ancient tradition, on every Monday & Friday, I visit a couple of houses collecting alms with a bag (jolige). I have four children and two grand children who too have learnt Kamsale performing at small functions.

Kamsale Mahadevaiah

The name Mahadevaiah has become so synonymous with Kamsale, that a mere mention of the name ‘Kamsale Mahadeva’ strikes a chord in everyone who knows Kamsale without exception. He continued to give public performances till his last days, even though he was 90 years old. While performing Kamsale on stage, he could easily recite several devotional hymns praising Lord Mahadeshwara from his memory which if written could run more into thousand pages. When late Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India she popularized folk arts during Republic Day celebrations. It was then Mahadevaiah gave performances in Delhi as well as traveling all over India.

He participated in an international folk art conference held in 1974. He was bestowed with numerous awards, the prominent ones being the Sangeetha Nataka Akademi award in 1968, Janapada Akademi Yakshagana Award in 1982, Indira Gandhi Fellowship Award in 1988 and Kannada Rajyotsava Award in 1990. He was posthumously awarded the ‘Janapada Shree’ by the Karnataka Government in 1995. The circle near Chamundipuram as named as Kamsale Mahadevaiah Circle.

About Kamsale

Kamsale is a circular, bronze percussion instrument consisting of two halves. The one held in left hand is hollow like a small begging bowl while the other half is like the lid of the bowl which is held in the right hand. It is flat, but has a small depression at the centre with a hole in it. A piece of strong thread runs through the hole and is used for holding the plate. The other end of the thread is tied with a wild flower. The thread also has several ornamental silver rings decorated with flowers. When the two bronze plates are struck against each other they produce a melodious note and together with the noise made by the silver rings adding to the music, devotees dance and sing hymns praising Lord Mahadeshwara to the rhythmic beats of the Kamsale.

Kamsale was an invention by the devotees of Lord Male Mahadeshawara known as Devara Guddas. A Gudda is an ascetic who has dedicated his life worshipping the Lord. As a symbol of his devout life he wears a single beaded necklace, a makeshift bag slung around his shoulder and carries a snake rod called Nagabetha, the insignia of Lord Mahadeshwara. He goes from house to house begging and singing the glory of the Lord. Though there is no prescribed costume, they normally wear a white dhoti, a simple turban and smear their forehead with ash. But only recently wearing colourful costumes has become a norm. In Kamsale dancing is primary and singing is secondary. As dancers occupy the centre stage the singers are in the background.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Indian handicrafts have always been rich in variety owing to the great cultural diversity of our society. Every piece of handicraft product made from far flung regions of the country have a distinctive style of its own, reflecting the great historical traditions and artistry.

Absolutely astounding and unique in concept, colour and workmanship, the art and handicrafts of Rajasthan are beyond comparison.

Rajasthan is renowned for its famous handicrafts — the mesmerising lac jewellery, handmade home furnishings, traditional Rajasthani footwear, mojari, block printed textiles, tie & die items and many others. Each work of art creates an intense and irresistible appeal. Handmade Rajasthani miniature paintings, depicting the rich and colourful heritage of the desert State, are fast gaining popularity both in the inter-national as well as domestic markets.

The Sahara Art and Craft exhibition being held at the Scout and Guide Grounds in city near the DC office is showcasing the talents of the artisans from all over the State. It will be open till Oct. 31 from 10.30 am to 9.30 pm.

Lac articles

Artisan Rakesh Kumar hailing from Rajasthan has displayed his lac articles made using discarded lac bangles. Belonging to the traditional Manihaar family, he says "Over several decades, our forefathers have been in this occupation of making lac and other related products which were worn by the royal women."

"Lac is a resin like substance secreted by certain type of beetles on the bark of a tree. Wearing bangles made of lac has a special significance for Rajasthani women. We have been supplying lac bangles to various royal families across Rajasthan for the past 350 years. Similarly, beads made of lac also come in various colours and designs. They have a shiny lustre giving them an exotic appearance," says Rakesh.

"I make various kinds of beautiful artifacts out of lac, which truly have an appealing and artistic look. Articles like lac jewellery, lac bangles, lac mirrors, lac pen stand, lac hook hangers, lac photo frames, lac necklace, earing, lac boxes, gift articles, home decoration items. All our lac articles are greatly admired by people all over wherever we exhibit them. I feel happy to spread this art and exhibit it in front of the people," adds Rakesh.

Handmade lac beads are becoming popular as more people prefer wearing lac based jewelleries as these are non-allergic to skin when worn than wearing metal jewellery.

Metal Works

The art of metal work was known to Indians more than 5000 years ago. Traditionally, Indian craftsmen have been using different metals like iron, copper, silver and alloys like bronze, bell metal, white metal etc., to produce items such as pots, pans, utensils, photo frames, sculptures of deities, mythological figures and animals.

Handcrafted idols of Lakshmi and Ganesha and other metallic figures on display here are a brilliant example of this traditional art. The skill and craftsmanship of the artisan are revealed as he brilliantly transforms these bare metal pieces into astounding works of art.

Figurines of musicians are reflective of the intricate details that personify this metal piece. Even specific details like crown, jewellery and clothing are carefully engraved on these metal objects with great effort.

"Metal artifacts are in great demand as they can be crafted in various shapes including pots, boxes, candle stands, bowls, mirror frames and other forms all engraved with intricate designs. Figurines of traditional musicians are simply incomparable," says Pushpendra, who is exhibiting his metal works.

"The appearance gets even more appealing when tinted glass is used for decorating these white metal objects. Each item that we have here on display is the result of several days of tiring work of our skilled craftsmen, which is why they stand apart for their quality and craftsmanship. These artifacts, embellished with subtle engravings, can substitute any expensive antique piece in your interiors!" he added.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Senior citizens in changing world

Voices crying for a friendly word, nothing more

Taking care of parents in their old age is a part of Indian Culture. Sadly what was once an unquestioned part of one’s heritage is slowly coming apart with more senior citizens finding themselves in an old age home or one that is a parody of a senior citizen’s home.

In the past all important decisions and resolution of conflicts were resolved by the head of the family — the parents. In today’s world this is considered to be an anachronism especially when the world has become a cyber village and travel to a different country, a different life and an exposure to a different culture are common. The huge joint families are now reduced to nuclear families.
The changing economic scenario, life style have all contributed to the phenomena of putting elders in old age homes.

I contacted some of the old-age homes in the city and was surprised to learn that the number of people being admitted to old-age homes has been increasing drastically in recent years.
It made sense in the 60s or 70s even the 80s for all to stay together so that money could be pooled and so on, but finding a job abroad that offers lucrative salaries and perks is relatively easy today.
Couple find themselves being forced to settle at their places of work , either in some distant part or even abroad., making visiting India not an economically viable proposition. The result is that many urbanized couples find that the only option left is to admit their parents to old age homes, with the thought that there at least someone to look after them.

This has indeed led to a boom in the Elder’s Home business in metros like Bangalore which offer literally Five star comforts. It costs around Rs 13,000 per person at one such elder’s home. However parents do need the company of their children in the autumn of their lives.

The other major reason for the rise in the number of elderly being admitted to such old age homes is the growing intolerance and discontent among youth of the present generation, especially after they marry, as the couple find it extremely difficult to adjust to the traditional values and conventional style of living which the parents insist must be adhered to. This is the most commonly cited reason and the married children try to get away from their parents and start living separately.

Surviving old age becomes extremely painful, especially when one is terminally ill or bedridden and there is no one to take care of. Even performing simple tasks like making a cup of coffee or taking bath becomes painful. With children busy with their jobs and other social activities, attending to the aged parents at home, who sometimes need constant attention and care, becomes difficult. Even grandchildren prefer company of kids of their own age, making these elders feel even more lonely.
There are also aged parents are so fed up and deeply hurt with the neglect and insults meted out to them by their own wards, they simply allow them to leave the house and stay separately, in spite of having to survive on their own. The matter becomes more even complicated if they are not financially independent and have to depend on their children for sustenance. It hurts their pride to ask their children for money. They rather prefer to stay at old-age homes than go through the daily routine of tantrums and neglect.

How parents view this situation has to be seen from an economic perspective. The aged parent with a pension or some other financial security is in a more psychologically better situation, then parents who have to depend solely on their children. Some linger on in old age homes, others give psychologically.
A parent’s sacrifice, if that is the right word, cannot be measured by using some benchmark. In the Indian tradition or it would be more appropriate to call of the South Asian tradition, a child is cared for, educated and married off. It’s considered to be a parent’s duty. The flipside of this tradition is that the now grown-up man or woman is expected to care for the old parents.
The swiftly changing work ethos, the world itself becoming a global village, better life-styles which mean that both partners work, has created a situation, seen often enough, where this simply no time for aged parents. In this transition, even the old joint family houses have been replaced by housing unit.

As parents get old and become dependent, children should spend some time with them and care for them, instead of considering them as a burden. Isn’t it time we paid back for all that we have received from them and made us what we are today? Why can't we build a new world, staying with parents and loving, res-pecting and sheltering them? They don't need a luxurious life. All they expect is a few soothing words and a shoulder to lean upon, so that they don’t feel let down by their own children.

To better understand the feelings of the aged, I interviewed a couple of elderly residents. Here are there responses: "I am indeed quite fortunate to live with my children and grand children, in today’s world that is aping the West. When I play with my grandchildren, I completely forget myself. I am becoming younger day by day", says 67-year-old Rukmaniamma who is leading a wonderful life with her family members.
Rohini, a 30-year old said, "Misunderstanding among family members has resulted in creation of old age homes. It is our duty to look after our parents, instead of deserting them. It is they who have brought us to this position. With out them we would never have reached this level."

Did you know ?

Children are legally bound by law and it is their duty to take care of their aged parents.

'The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007' enacted by the Government of India stipulates that children as well as heirs to property of a parent/senior citizen are duty bound to provide for the maintenance of their parents and senior citizens. The Act clearly stipulates that senior citizens can claim for maintenance from their children or legal heirs of their property.

The Act further stipulates that the case has to be disposed off by the concerned Tribunal within 90 days from the date of service of the notice and that there is no need to hire a lawyer, making it easier for the elderly to get due justice.

Under the Act, transfer of property, by gift or otherwise, can be declared void if legal heirs to senior citizen’s property refuse to provide for maintenance of the senior citizen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bal Bhavan – a haven for local hoodlums

Increasing eve-teasing in the City

The problems bedeviling Bal Bhavan have been highlighted time and again. But there seems to be another more serious problem that needs to be nipped in the bud.

Every Sunday, Bal Bhavan which should be a haven for children becomes instead a haven for various gangs ranging from eve-teasing youth to groups who think that the sole purpose of Bal Bhavan is to provide a place to park their cars and settle down amidst the grass and drink till drunk.

Till recently a police Garuda used to parked to deter lumpen louts but it is conspicuous by its absence. This has encouraged local gangs to make it their base to gather and make merry while making the evenings of those women and children who come here miserable.

Speaking to a cross section of the few women who were pre-sent on Sept. 26, I found that most were not keen on complaining to the police for fear that they would be targeted

Said Fatima( name changed): if we remonstrate they just comment vulgarly and blow smoke in our face. They do not care.”

Young girls who accompany their parents are another target of these gangs as they make lewd comments within the hearing of the girls.

Rashmi (name altered) who was there with her children, said that there should be frequent police patrolling of the area and there should be strictly enforced 'No smoking' ban. This place is becoming dangerous to bring children."

Others also commented that they come here because there was space for their children to play but now this is changing. I found that there are no Bal Bhavan staff on duty, no toys or the usual playground jungle gyms etc. Even the toy train was resting with weeds growing between its wheels and all along the track. The whole place looks readymade for eve teasers..

Eve-teasing also seems to have become more rampant in other parts of the City especially the City bus stand as I discovered. The entrance to the City bus stand is infested with eve teasers among whom are many auto-drivers. They make filthy obscene comments on girls entering the bus stand. Inside the bus stand, groups of youth board buses to make lewd comments at girls and women and get off before the bus starts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How to keep smiling always

"A smile starts on the lips, A grin spreads to the eyes, A chuckle comes from the belly; But a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, Overflows, and bubbles all around." - Carolyn Birmingham

It is said that smile is a curve that sets everything straight and you are never fully dressed without a smile! Truly, that small curve of the lips, called smile, gives such a beauty to the face that it instantly brings people and hearts closer together.

Smiling reduces the tension and makes others relaxed. Whatever be the circumstance, cultivate the attitude of being humourous every moment of your lives without losing the importance of the situation.

The story goes that once Goddess Kali appeared before poet Kalidasa. Seeing her, he suddenly started laughing. Surprised, she asked him, while every other human being was afraid of her appearance, what made him laugh. He replied that when it was so difficult for a person to keep wiping his single nose if he were to catch a cold, how was it possible then for her to wipe so many noses on her numerous faces ! Impressed by his humour, Goddess Kali is said to have gifted him with the poetic talent.

Here are some tips to cultivate humour:

• Be in the company of humorous people. There are a few gifted amongst us who can always crack a joke in the nick of time about the incidents happening in the surroundings or about the subject they are discussing at the moment. They always find something funny, whatever is the occasion.

• Smiling is the precursor of laughing. Like flu, it’s contagious, when you look at someone smiling; you too invariably start to smile.

• Spend time with fun, playful people. Share funny jokes and an-ecdotes as it gives the opportunity to laugh together.

• Watch comedy movies; Visit Laughter Clubs; Create opportunities to laugh.

• Discuss with others about the funniest things that happened in the day.

• Play with children; Do silly things.

• Make some time for fun activities (golfing, bowling, karaoke).

• Chuckle, chortle, cackle or crack up (all are stress relievers).

• There are several humour programmes aired on TV which have become quite popular and some channels are exclusively dedicated to it. Children's channels like Pogo, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney are sure to make one laugh however serious his mood maybe.

Benefits of laughing

• Reduces stress and even weight (burning calories) by raising energy level.

• Strengthens immune system.

• Prevents heart disease.

• Relaxes muscles. • Lowers blood pressure.

• Improves blood circulation.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Aeromodelling calling young enthusiasts

Shreyas and Ananya holding a miniature plane they have built together before setting it on flight.

One of the most popular events organised regularly as part of Dasara every year is the Air Show at Bannimantap Parade Grounds which draws huge crowd. As the spectators keep waiting with baited breath, scanning the blue skies overhead for the big metal birds from the Indian Air Force to make their appearance, what keeps the crowd mesmerised for a few moments is a miniature remote controlled aircraft that darts all across the sky, performing loops and somersaults and sometimes even flying barely over their heads.

The curious among them, especially college and high school students, would have dreamt of building such miniature flying models on their own and watch it fly. They can now realise their dreams, thanks to two enterprising and budding engineers.

Though the city already has several amateur hobbyists as well as professionals building racing bicycles, bikes and designer cars on their own, there is no one who ventured to build miniature aircraft and also teach others, except maybe for K. Shreyas and Ananya Balasu-bramanya, Directors of International Academy of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (IAMAS).

"I had avid interest to take on to wings but couldn't fly due to optical constraints. So I thought why not fulfill our dreams by doing aeromodeling," says Ananya, an engineering student of NIE. After she met Shreyas of SJCE, both joined hands together to initiate the process of opening the miniature wings to the young enthusiasts of city.

Though both are students of two different Engineering Colleges in city, they have teamed together and taken the initiative to give wings to the flying aspirations of the youth.

Say the duo, "Aeromodelling is the art of designing and flying unmanned aircraft. The aircraft is usually a scaled down version of an actual aeroplane or one designed specially by the hobbyist. Ours is a joint initiative of Rotary Mysore Adventure Corps (RMAC), an undertaking of Rotary Mysore and IAMAS."

"Basically aeromodelling is of two types. It can be either a non-powered, uncontrolled, free-floating glider, or a multi engine, fue-lled, radio controlled aircraft having wingspans of six feet and more. Many people start off by building a free-floating glider readily available as a kit and progress to advanced models as they improve their skills," says M.M.P. Kumar, a retired NCC Associate Officer, who will be the guide for the youth who wish to give life to their designs.

Rtn. K.G. Venkatraman, President, Rotary Mysore, avers that this innovative hobby will imbibe self-confidence and stimulate interest among students to nurture and fulfill their aspirations while doing things differently.

Disclosing the details about the course, Shreyas informed that it is open for all students in the age group of 12 to 20 years and the class will be held twice a week, on Saturdays and Sundays at Rotary High School, KRS Road. Admission is restricted to only 20 students and registration will be done on a first- cum-first-serve basis.

For details, contact Shreyas on Mob: 96206-08102 /98451-16835 or Ananya on Mob: 96639-30777 between 5 pm and 9 pm. Those interested can register their names with Mahesh, Rotary Mysore Secretariat, Rotary Centre, JLB Road. Rtn. D.S.D. Solanki is the Advisor to RMAC.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


With recent advances in technology making in-roads into every walk of our lives, the traditional way of doing things are slowly giving way to mass online products at factory outlets. One such victim is the traditional clay models of Ganesha idols, that were made by hand using raw clay (not baked), being replaced by glittering Plaster of Paris(PoP) Ganeshas produced using moulds & painted.

About 35 potter families living in Kumbarageri, off Irwin Road in city, who have been traditionally making Lord Ganesha and Gowri idols every year during the festival using only raw clay are a worried lot as the demand for the idols this year has not reached their expected mark compared to previous years. Sculpting of idols usually begins several months in advance and is a time consuming job as each idol is moulded with bare hands.

Speaking to Star of Mysore, Revanna, a trader of these idols on K.T. Street, observed that the readymade idols brought from other States for sale here has affected the local artisans badly.

The Yuva Mandalis, who celebrated the festival on a grand scale by erecting Pandals and Shamiyanas near street corners, are also gradually dwindling.

They always placed orders for huge idols which in turn fetched higher profits for traders. With the number of such associations organising the event on the wane, the traders are forced to depend only on individual customers.

To add variety to the Mysore style of Ganesha idols, traders are catering to customers who insist on new designs. Based on demand, traders bring idols with various designs and styles made in Mumbai and Kolkata. In spite of local artisans from Kumbarageri catering to the bulk of the demand, many traders continue to get idols from outside. While the Mumbaistyle idols are sourced from Mumbai and Pune, traders sometimes source them from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Idols are also brought from Tumkur and Bangalore. Some have even ventured selling Gok-arna-style idols. The characteristic feature of Gokarna Ganesha is that it does not sport a crown. According to legend, Ganesha's crown was struck down by Ravana at Gokarna for placing Shiva’s Athmalinga on the earth.

Revanna says though he is not interested in bulk sales, he still manages to sell some idols every year, in spite of being affected by the recession. He says the Mumbai idols have their own set of customers. He claims that he is the only dealer selling idols that conform to the norms set by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). While the idols brought by others is made of PoP, his is made of clay. The sale of clay idols has not picked up despite being eco-friendly and having religious connotations. A small percentage of his customers do not immerse the idols after the festival. They keep the idols in their house for their sheer artistic and aesthetic values. This also prevents environmental pollution to some extent, he says.

To minimise lead poisoning, Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd. (MPVL) along with the Mysore branch of KSPCB has persuaded artisans to use only lead-free paint on Ganesha and Gowri idols. Revanna said: "I paint my idols with lead-free paints supplied by MPVL. It is beneficial both for us as well as the environment. I even encourage other idol-makers to follow this."

In spite of all these odds, artisan in Kumbarageri are still continuing their tradition by bringing out new designs every year.


• It was due to the efforts of freedom fighter and social reformer Lokamanya Balagangadahar Tilak that organising Ganesha festivals attained the status of a popular public event which brought the masses together from various backgrounds turning them into a force against the British rule.

• Ganesha idols made of clay is considered to be more auspicious as according to the Puranic references the first idol of the Lord was made out of grime and mud.

• Idols made of PoP or painted with synthetic paints when immersed in local water bodies, increases the salinity of the surface water resulting in skin diseases. These PoP idols float on water and are not dissolved. Drinking such water leads to indigestion in both humans and cattle.

• Pramod Vitthal Palav, a sculptor from Kankavali in Sindhudurg, has invented an idol manufacturing process by mixing clay with fig tree juice, paper and glue. The mixture dissolves in water in less than 15 minutes.

Puja at the press of a button!

As priests are in heavy demand on the day of Ganesha Chaturthi and with the pujas lasting a couple of hours, people find it difficult to get priests to visit their homes and perform pujas. It is the same technology that has once again come to the rescue — Pre-recorded audio cassettes are available on sale that details the procedures for performing the Puja along with the relevant mantras. One has to just press the button to play this cassette and proceed with the worship!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


India is renowned world wide for its art and crafts. Art and craft fairs are held throughout the year where artisans get a chance to showcase and sell their unique art works.

The Crafts Bazaar at JSS Urban Haat in Hebbal gives one such glimpse of India's rich cultural heritage. It concludes today at 9 pm.

Mural wall hangings

Matthew Sebastian from Ban-galore, who captures your imagination through murals on wood inlays, says, "Creating effective murals often incorporate many different techniques, painting, glazing, and perspective to name a few. First trace the lines with a pencil. Next, paint the mural using high quality acrylic paints. When the painting is completed, allow it to dry thoroughly while still stapled to the wall. Then apply two coats of clear acrylic glaze to the painting to seal in the paint and make it waterproof so the paint won't be disturbed during installation."

Applique Works

Art and crafts are deeply ingrained in the very culture and traditions of Orissa. Tours & travels, crafts, everything seems to revolve around the reigning deity Jagannath. Each area in Orissa specialises in different craft forms. For instance, the village of Pipli is famous for its applique work. Though applique work is not known in other parts of India, in Orissa, specially in Pipli, the craft has a living tradition continuing over centuries.

"Applique, a French term, is a technique by which decorative effect is obtained by superposing patches of coloured fabrics on a basic fabric, the edges of which are sewn in some form of stitchery. It is distinct from what is known as patchwork in which small pieces of cut fabrics are usually joined side by side to make a large piece of fabric or for repairing a damaged fabric. As per tradition, the colour scheme of the three covers is predetermined. The stitching process comes under six broad categories like bakhia, taropa, ganthi, chikana, button-hole and ruching," says Suresh Kumar Patnaik from Pipli. "In the initial stage we stitch roughly and later we give finishing. It takes four days to complete a single work," adds Patnaik who has bagged State Award for his excellent creations.

Horn Work

West Bengal owes its skill in architectural splendour to its excellent works originated in the heartland of Bengal, its villages.

The early pages of Indian civilisation are full of descriptions of ‘horn combs’ which adorned the tresses of women in ancient times. In shining black and translucent shades of greys, Bengal horn work is still a fascinating craft.

"I make buttons, belt buckles, fashion accessories, novelties etc. from horn. I also make articles of daily use such as combs, penstands and flower vases," says Radha Gobinda Maity who is exhibiting his unique horn works accompanied by his father Nirmal Rao.

The JSS Urban Haat received an overwhelming response from the citizens and made a record collection of Rs. 15 lakh during the 10-day craft bazaar.

Monday, August 30, 2010


"Yakshagana is not meant only for certain category of people. It is everybody’s play. It is your elders property. Don’t vanish this art, pass it on for next generations too," says Kumble Sundar Rao

Renowned Yakshagana artiste-cum-politican, Kumble Sundar Rao, was in city recently to deliver a talk on the occasion of 72nd Chaturmasya Vratha being observed by Pejawar Swamiji at Krishnadhama. Having carved a niche in Yakshagana with his vivid portrayal of various characters and dialogue delivery in his own inimitable style, he is the recipient of numerous awards, the most recent being the Yaksha Nidhi award - 2010 by the New Delhi-based Academy Thenku Thittu Yakshagana. He has also been conferred with the title 'Yakshanugrahi' and is the President of Karnataka Yakshagana Bayalata Academy since 2008. Here is a brief write up of his journey in the world of Yakshagana.

Born into a weaver’s family in 1934 in Kerala, Kumble Sundar Rao like many unfortunate victims of circumstances was educated till seventh standard. Not interested in learning the traditional skills of weaving which was the source of livelihood for the family, it was again the same fate which made Sundar Rao take to Yakshagana.

Being a regular visitor to a hotel in his home town, one day a stranger approached him and asked him if he could render certain dialogues of a character in the Yakshagana play as the regular artiste suddenly took ill. That proved to be the turning point in Sundar Rao’s life. His first role of delivering dialogue (who is known as Bhagawata at the age of 19, was such an instant success that opportunities started pouring in and he never turned back again. Over the years he gradually gained mastery over all the other features of the play such as the Raga, Tala and Prasanga.

Kumble, as he is affectionately called by the Yakshagana lovers, stands out as a unique person for several reasons and not merely for his dialogue rendering skills. Though born into a Malayalam-speaking family, he mastered speaking Kannada so fluently that anyone listening to him would be bewildered to know that his mother-tongue is not Kannada.

The 76-year-old Yakshagana veteran is very much remembered for his outstanding performances in his roles as Rama, Krishna, Bharata, Parikshita, Vishvamitra, and Ramacharvaka which he played with equal precision and variation over the years. Kumble is known for his intrinsic ability to relate with the audience, making them laugh, weep, dance and sing with him.

His journey into Yakshagana began in 1953 when he joined the Kudlu Gopalakrishna Yakshagana Mandali which went on to reach new peaks as he participated in drama fairs held at Ira Somanatheshwara, Surathkal, and Dharmasthala. At Dharmasthala, he gave performances for 25 consecutive years. He was even invited to countries like Abudhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and others to demonstrate his artistic prowess there.

What is remarkable about Kumble is his penchant for using alliterations. He weaves them spontaneously into his dialogues. In the process, he has created an inimitable style of his own. His dialogues are not in-depth as that of the late Sheni Gopala Krishna Bhat, another doyen of Yakshagana.

Sheni’s dialogues demand a very high level of understanding from the audience, whereas Kumble’s dialogues are more instantaneous, witty and appealing to the masses.

Though politics and Yakshagana make strange bedfellows, Kumble tried his luck in politics and has been quite successful too. He is the first professional Yaksha-gana artiste to be elected as MLA. His political career took off to a flying start, just like his entry to Yakshagana, when he was elected as MLA from the Surathkal constituency in 1994, representing the BJP. He is credited with yeomen services to the field of theatre and performing arts in his capacity as a Member of Legislative Assembly during his four year tenure at the office.

Once when he spoke in the Legislative Assembly, the then speaker Ramesh Kumar asked other MLAs to learn from Kumble the right way of speaking in Kannada. It was Kumble’s gift of the gab that earned him laurels both on stage while performing Yakshagana as well as in the political arena. In fact, impressed by his oratorical skills during the Ramajanmabhoomi campaign conducted by the BJP in the early 90s, it rewarded him with an MLA ticket to contest the Surathkal seat in 1994 Parliamentary elections. By winning the elections Kumble did what only cinema artistes had been known to do — graduating from the world of arts to what Bismarck had called ‘the art of possible.’

Like his performances onstage, he is equally at ease wielding the pen as well. His poems and odes appear regularly in the Kannada daily. Hosa Digantha His name would appear in the credit line of Udayavani wherein he writes about Narayana Guru’s memoirs. His autobiography 'Sundarakaanda' is a testimony to his writing skills as well.

For a man of such artistic calibre, awards and recognitions are bound to come by. He is credited with honours such as the Vishwa Kannada Sammelana Prashasthi, Karnataka Rajya Prashasthi, Rajyothsava Prashasthi by the Bahrain Karnataka Sangha, Polali Shankaranarayana Prashasthi, Muliya Timmappayya Prashasthi and several others. He is also a recipient of the Vijaya Vithala Prashasthi from Pejawar Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji.

Though Kathakali, the traditional dance form of Kerala and Yakshagana were treated at par with each other about 50 years ago, today Kathakali has achieved the status of classical art and has made name at the international level. Art forms can receive patronage both from the Centre and UNESCO if it gains classical art status. It is time that Yakshagana is accorded that status. In this context Kumble has undertaken many awareness campaigns about the art by releasing books, CDs, holding Kammatagalu – Chanda Madhale, Hadugarike and extending support to Yakshagana training centers.

Kumble Sundar Rao resides with his wife Sushila at mangalore. He has three daughters and two sons.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Rajasthan is a land of glorious historical traditions and culture and it is also one among the richest States in the country as far as in the field of arts and crafts are concerned. Stone, clay, leather, wood, ivory, lac, glass, brass, silver, gold and textiles are given the most brilliant forms here.

The hides of dead animals have never been put to better use than in Rajasthan whether as juthees, the embroidered footwear the people wear, or as saddles, bags and pouches. It is even used as backs for chairs after it has been embroidered with woollen motifs. Jaipur and Jodhpur are the traditional centres for juthees. The exotic spectrum of Rajasthan's handicraft heritage is a dazzling kaleidoscope of colours and textures.

SOM caught up with some artisans who are showcasing their talent at Sahara Art and Craft Bazar on Scout and Guides Ground, behind DC Office. The expo will conclude on Aug. 22 at 9.30 pm. Excerpts:

Rajasthani Wall Hanging

"This wall hanging has been made of concentrically placed fine jute ropes, stuck on cloth. This is a handcrafted traditional Rajasthani work on wall hangings. These can be used at homes to enliven its beauty. We stitch in various attractive and bright designs and colours. The traditional patchwork is coupled with zaridar thread work and mirrors. Green, turquoise and blue harmonise in the elaborately detailed embroidery of this cotton wall hanging. Traditional Rajasthani designs include tiny mirrors woven into the fabric. We offer various designs in a great variety of colors. These designs are inspired from the traditional Rajasthani designs and add to the beauty of the product thereon," says Asha R. Lohia, who is engaged in this work for the past 23 years.

Silver filigree

Silver filigree is the most unique and finest handicrafts of Orissa which is locally called as tarakasi. This is an ancient art of metal work practiced in the traditional way. The artifacts are made of alloy which contains over 90% of silver and to compete with the changing times new methods are being used.

"The silver is extracted through a series of consecutive smaller holes to produce fine strings of silver threads. The string is the speciality in the filigree jewellery. Brooches, ladies bags, pendants, earrings and hairpins and other utility items like trays, plates, cups, candle stands bowls, ashtrays, incense containers, animals, birds, flowers, peacock and many more are crafted," says Sambhu Dutta.

Bead work

Bead work is a Gujarati speciality from Khambhat and Sauras-htra. Motifs and patterns are dictated by the technique of putting two and three beads together. Beadwork objects are used in wall decorations, potholders, etc. The best beadwork is produced by the 'kathis' (tribals). Worked mostly on a white background, they use colours that are vibrant with very distinct patterns. Beadwork 'torans' are usually placed across the doorways. Satya Narayan has exhibited this artistic work.

Gesso work

It is one of the finest crafts to emerge from Bikaner where the inner hide of the camel is used for the purpose. The hide is scraped till it is paper thin and translucent. It is then moulded into various forms of lamp shades, hip flasks, perfume phials or vases. It is then painted over with fine gesso work using gold to lend richness to the otherwise bright reds and greens used in the work. Vijay Solanki has exhibited this talent.

Pottery and Terracotta

As the driest region of India, the pottery works of Rajasthan are very famous especially the small mouths of the water pots which are made in such a way that helps to circulate the air and keep the water cool.

The most famous pottery of Rajasthan is the water bottle among others like Pokran and painted pottery of Bikaner. They are exhibited at the bazar by Pinto, hailing from Kolkata.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sarees tell the tale at Urban Haat

When we talk about Indian fashion, invariably it's about wearing the traditional evergreen saree and the salwar-kameez. Sarees are an inevitable part in the wardrobe of any Indian bride. The saree has travelled a long way since the ancient times but in recent times we have witnessed the change in the look of the saree.

Sequences, embroidery, patch work etc., are all an eternal part of Indian attire which enhances the beauty of the dress. Embroidery is often regarded as the best form of art which is highly demanded by men and women. Embroidery work is flawless for adding beauty to any dull fabric.

Hence to introduce the tradition of saree, JSS Urban Haat in Hebbal has organised a saree mela which is on till August 22 and is open from 10 am to 9 pm. In all, 40 craftsmen and weavers from various States are taking part in this Mela. SOM had a tête-à-tête with some craftsmen at the Mela. Excerpts:

West Bengal is known for its colourful and vibrant culture. Artisan Chandana Aich from this city is showcasing her Batik and Kantha Stitch. Batik means 'wax writing', an art of decorating cloth using molten wax. This work is believed to have originated during the 12th century.

To create a design, we use a wooden stick fashioned into a pen with cotton thread wound around it. The hot wax is applied on this 'pen' and the designs are drawn on the cloth. Then, the design is separated according to the colours to be used for the dyes. Colouring usually starts with the white sections and progresses to the darker shades. Later on, the cloth is dipped in boiling water to remove the wax. The areas covered in wax retain their original colour and the pattern is made by the plain and dyed parts. Vegetable dyes are used for colouring.

The batik craft gives more prominence to figures of humans and animals than other traditional art forms where flowers, landscapes and such take top place.
Another interesting fact is that both sides of the cloth look the same. There is no right or wrong side because the hot wax seeps into the other side of the cloth as well, making both sides look identical.

About Kantha stitch

Kantha is a type of embroidery popular in West Bengal which is practised by rural women. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done with soft dhotis and saris, with a simple running stitch along the edges. The entire cloth is covered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of flowers, animals, birds and geometrical shapes, as well as themes from everyday activities. Originally it was used to join layers of old saris, to make quilts. The existence of Kantha dates back to early 1800s, embroidered with blue, black and red threads that were unraveled from saree borders.

Tussar Silk

Artisans Kalim Ansori and Md. Wali Ahmad are displaying Tussar Silk, Matka Silk, Noil Raw Silk etc. Speaking to SOM about Tussar Silk they narrated thus:
Tussar silk is also known as Kosa silk, produced mainly in Jharkhand. Tussar is valued for its texture and natural gold colour, which is unusually rich and deep.
Tussar is a type of wild silk obtained from silk worms that are not bred on mulberry trees but whose cocoons are collected from the local trees like Sal, Arjun and Saja. It is less expensive than cultivated silk and not as durable. Some Tussar silk today made is called non-violent silk, or Ahimsa Silk, which is extracted from the cocoon after the silkworm larva has left it.
Chikan work
The chikan work of Lucknow is one of the most popular embroidery works in India. It has a certain grace and elegance and never goes out of style. The word chikan literally means embroidery. It is said to have been originally introduced by Nur Jahan, the beautiful wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. It has since evolved and attained its glory and perfection in Lucknow, says artisan Sanjay from Lucknow.
The designs depend on its effect on the variety of stitches used and different grades of threads used to form the patterns which include the lace like jali, the op-aque fillings and the delicacy or boldness of outline and details.
A variation of the chikan work is the bakhia or shadow work. Here the work is done from the back, the stitches completely covering the design in herringbone style. The shadow of the thread is seen through the cloth on the right side.

Kundan work

Kundan work by artisan Mahfooz Alam is a method of gem setting, consisting of inserting gold foil between the stones and its mount. This task requires a great deal of dedication as it has intricate work to be done with great precision. The Kundan work consists of precious gems like diamonds, rubies and emeralds. The various designs done in the Kundan work sarees are a sure shot eye-catcher.
The speciality of the Kundan work sarees is that the precious gems give it an even more beautiful look, making the saree glitter and add glamour to one's beauty. It is learnt, Kundan works are a favourite of Mughals.

Apart from this, there are a wide range of collections from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Jammu-Kashmir and many other places. This beautiful hand-crafted works created by the artisans have a low environmental impact and are produced in a community-friendly way.