Sunday, October 1, 2023


Dance - Drama

Bhagavatha Mela

Bhagavatha Mela, one popular throughout the Tamil Nadu, is now confined to a single village, Melatur in Thanjavur district. It is held as a part of the annual Nara-Simha Jayanthi festival in May-June.  A large flat thatched canopy and a small stage are put up in the streets in front of the temple and the dramas are enacted to dedicate the deity installed in the front hall of the temple.

Bhagavatha Mela dance-drama is subdued and graceful with, mellifluous vocal and instrumental music.  Dialogue of high diction and suggestive strained abhinaya and other symbolical action are its hall-marks.  Violent scenes of war and killing are not enacted but only narrated.  The Bhagavatha Mela dance-drama has dramatic interest, aided by classical music and dance. Every actor is well trained in Bharatha Natya.

The performance commences with the appearance of the Konangi or buffoon. He dances for a few minutes and requests the audience to witness the play patiently. A group of musicians then sing the Todaya-mangalam or invocation song followed by the introduction to the drama that is to be enacted.  Lord Ganesa then appears to bless the play.  A young boy is usually made to wear the mask of Ganesa and dance to the accompaniment of background music.  Each actor or character is then introduced. After this elaborate introduction, the drama begins.