Thursday, November 21, 2019


Professional Religious Singers

Religious singers are (1) Kamsale (2) Neelagaru (3) Chowdike  
(4) Gorava (5) Gane

Professional religious singers sing only those songs which concern their chosen gods, pilgrim centres and temples. Their main purpose is to propagate the supremacy and philosophy of their particular religion to inculcate values and norms in the community. Professional singers are characterised by traditional colourful costumes and conspicuous musical instruments. They command great respect  and take active participation in all the religious celebrations of their community.

(3) Chowdike And Gondhaligas

ChowdikeChowdike and Gondhaligas are identical tribes belonging to the Yellamma belt. Their main profession is to sing about the supremacy and religious dictum of goddess 'Yellamma'. They are also devotees of goddess 'Amba Bhavani'.

'Gondhala' is an ancient institution with its presence traced back to the11th century. History reveals that the 'Gondhalis' were recruited for espionage during the reign of Shivaji, the 'Maratha King'. It is a family custom to invite a 'Gondhali' minstrel to perform a 'Gondhal' (a religious ceremony) in honour of a deity whenever there is a wedding, a childbirth or other celebrations in the family. The ceremony consists of installation of the goddess with pomp and show. After the ceremonial puja, the music mela consisting of these performers is conducted in a small stage. 'Gondhaligas' are spread all over North Karnataka, Chitradurga and Tumkur.

Chowdike sect is defined as a class of religious beggars or minstrels recruited from various castes and are as children offered to God in fulfillment of vows. The young boys in the sect undergo a consecration ceremony and then the boy remain with the teacher to learn music and playing the chowdike. The sect derives its name from the instrument used for performance. The 'Chowdike'- a symbol of goddess 'Shakti' is in the form of a long rectangular measuring jar made out of either wood or bronze and is covered on one side with animal skin. A small metal piece is inserted through a central hole. The jar is supported by a 3 feet long bamboo fitted with a cork at the tip. A string is tied in between the bamboo and the skin. When the string is played it sends off enthralling ripples of music. 

Another instrument 'Sambala' (a twin percussion instrument made up of wood, mud or metal, and bronze cymbals are inserted in between the percussion) along with 'Chowdike' provides rhythmical support to the main narration. The performance consists of a song sequence with a simple but effective narration. Only the male artist dances while singing.

The traditional costume of the 'Chowdike' consists of a red or white coloured head gear, a white robe and a coat along with ornaments like 'cowrie chain' (cowrie is a small sea-shell and a chain of cowrie are hung around the neck) and anklets. They are found in Savadatti in North Karnataka and Chandragutti in the Shimoga district. The 'Yellamma fair' at Chandragutti is famous.


(4) Gorava

'Goravas' belong to a religious sect and their deity is 'Mylara Linga'- an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The song mela consists of 5 members. The 'Damaruga', a small drum, a trident and 'Pillangovi'- a crude replica of the flute are the instruments which provide rhythm to their music. The performers dance during the narration interlude, usually staged at night.

Gorava MelaThe Gorava tribes are found both in North as well as South Karnataka. The artistes of North Karnataka wear a long robe, a white head gear and tie a treasury bag made of animal skin around their neck. They also wear a cowrie chain and carry a satchel. On the other hand Goravas of south, besides wearing the same costumes are also decked in folk ornaments like anklets, a long and broad cowrie stripe and armlets. Their unique ornaments is a head-gear made of black bear skin. The cap is attractively designed and is their mark of identity. They use this cap for blessing, by placing the cap on the heads of devotees. 'Goravas' are found in pilgrim centres like Anegondi (Raichur), Karimani (Belgaum), Kubatour (Shimoga), Devara Gudda, Hadagali Devihosur (Dharwad), Mylapur (Bidar), Mannu Mylara ( Bellary) and Mangasule (Belgaum). Most famous centres are Mudukthore in the Mysore district and Mylarapatna in the Mandya district.


(5) Gane

'Ganes' belong to a tribe called 'Gollas' or 'Cowherds'.  Gollas are divided into 'Kadu Gollas' and 'Nadu Gollas'. The Ganes belong to Kadu Gollas who are very primitive and live far away from the areas of modern civilization.

The name 'Gane' is derived from the musical instrument Gane. The instrument resembles a flute made of bamboo and is 3 to 4 feet long, 2 inches wide and is embellished by a tassel, metal cobra hood and a few artistic feathers of peacock. A tiny bell is tied to its extreme tip.

The 'Gane Mela' normally consists of two or four performers. One of them plays the Gane instrument while the other sings the stories of the mythological hero (Lord Jungappa). They wear casual dress and carry a blanket on their shoulders.