Professional Secular Singers
Secular Singers are broadly classified into five categories :
(1) Karapala (2) Dombidasa (3) Helava (4)
Kinnari Jogis (5) Tamburis
They are professional singers of the secular folk songs and does not belong
to or sing the songs of a specific religious sect. These pious men earn
their living through singing and begging. The faithful worship of the
traditional musical instruments is a part of their daily chores. The secular
literature reflects the superior artistic talents and proves the immense
literary prowess of the illiterate artistes.
or Jangamakathe, a popular song mela of southern Karnataka, is a mixture of folk
literature with music and dance. The 'Karapala mela' consisting of three
members, has the main narrator in 'jangama'- the preceptor wearing a saffron
robe with a red cloth around his waist and an embellished head gear.
the chief folk musical instrument in the mela is a small minaret shaped drum
made of mud with one side left uncovered. Besides the Gummate, they also use the
cymbals for rhythmical presentation of the songs.
The 'Karapala mela' appears like a one-man-show. The chief
narrator dominates the show with his impressive creation. Karapala is
still performed in places like Arsikere, Tiptur, Hassan as also in places
across the Sahyadri range.
is an exclusive tribe belonging to the Vaishnava religious sect. Their music
constitutes a wide range of religious, secular, historical and mythological
stories. e.g. Magadi Kempegowda is a popular heroic song sung by them.
They are also known as wandering performers. The artistes
wear a robe and head gear besides a chain of beads and carry a satchel.
The artistes play the 'Yekatari' (a single stringed 3 to 4 feet long instrument)
in one hand and the 'Chitagi' (two small wooden pieces joined together
on one side) on the other.
is a tribe found in the southern parts of the state. A
big bell is the symbolic instrument of Helavas. The metal bell is passed on
artistes from one generation to another. Half a meter of cloth is always tied to
the handle of the bell. In one hand the artiste firmly holds the cloth and with
the other he plays the bell rhythmically and judiciously.
The 'Helava song
mela' consist of just two or three members. Throughout the long
narration of the stories, the artistes play the bell in regular succession.
Their songs predominantly illustrate the history of any family in the community
running to several generations.
As Helavas have a lasting memory of family histories, they
are commonly known as family capsules. There are many instances of property
disputes being solved by the information provided by the Helavas.
Jogis' have a pride of place among the folk singers of Karnataka. The
artistes belong to the Jogi tribe and worship Lord Shiva.
Jogis are primarily nomads, who move from place to place with their families,
costumes and musical instruments.
name Kinnari Jogi is derived from the popular folk instrument known as the Kinnari. Kinnari resembles the classical instrument, veena and is a 3 to 4 feet
long bamboo staff with three strings and three gourds fixed at the bottom. The
artistes, dressed in colourful cloth present an attractive spectacle. Decked with
embellished head gear and rudrakshi chains they play the Kinnari splendidly.
singers form any Kinnari mela. Kinnari Jogis are famous story-tellers. The
stories are musically portrayed with perfect balance.
singers belongs to the Vaishnava cult. This
folk art has derived its name from the musical instrument Tamburi which is four
stringed and artistically carved. The performers wear a white robe and a
yellow or saffron head gear. Carrying a satchel, they play cymbals with one hand
and the Tamburi with the other.
They impart moral values and norms to the villagers through