Tunga Mahotsav 2011
- Sudha Sridhar
e-mail: sudhasridhar@hotmail.com

February 25, 2011

The Tunga Mahotsav, a dusk to dawn dance and music festival was held on the banks of the river Tunga, Thirthahalli, Shimoga District, Karnataka, on February 12, 2011. It is organized by Kalatheera, a Trust for the propagation of performing arts, whose trustees are the Odissi dance couple Guru Uday Kumar Shetty and Soumya Uday Kumar and was co- sponsored by Ministry of Culture, Govt of India, ICCR, Sangeet Natak Akademi (New Delhi) and Dept of Kannada and Culture (Govt of Karnataka).

The festival was inaugurated on 12th morning at the Tunga University at 10.30am with the traditional beating of the dhollu followed by a Puli vesham traditional dance. The session saw 'Kavi Goshti' by the poets of Karnataka.
Students of Kalatheera
P Unnikrishnan
At the picturesque river bank with the twilight of a setting sun as backdrop, the much awaited evening session started with Mangalacharan and Batu by the students of Kalatheera. For the music segment of the festival, there were concerts by vocalists P Unnikrishnan (Carnatic music), Dr. Muddu Mohan and Prof. M Venkatesh Kumar (Hindustani classical) followed by instrumentalists Ghatam Vidwan V Umashankar and Saxophone PK Ganesh. The audience that had swelled to thousands in number was first seen swinging to the invigorating and vibrant ragas of the vocalists, and were later on their feet dancing to the enthralling performances of the instrumentalists.
The Gotipua recital by the troupe of Guru Lingaraj Barik touched the hearts by the innocence and spontaneity of the young gotipuas dressed in female costumes. Native inborn talent of the traditional dancers supported by a live orchestra as of the Gotipua performance offered an experience of grace and vibrancy to the discerning art lover. Rajasthani folk dance Kalbelia by internationally acclaimed Suramnath Kalbelia troupe was well received by the excited audience looking at the astonishing feats performed. A typical north Indian flavor brought out by the troupe was savored whole heartedly by the delighted south Indian audience of Thirthahalli.

Kuchipudi Yakshagana titled Usha Parinayam was performed by Kuchipudi Bhagavata Mela, a group guided by Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Guru Pasumarthi Rattaya Sarma. The female impersonation of Usha done to perfection by Vedantam Venkata Naga Chalapathi Rao struck the audience with awe. It is really a pity that this art form has not got its due recognition in modern times. Panchamavedam Foundation, an organization formed for reviving this art form to bring it to its rightful place in the international arena with the aid of the organizers enabled the audience to enjoy the cultural feast with all the ingredients of literature, music and dance drama in one art form of Kuchipudi Yakshagana performed by the traditional Kuchipudi families, the torch bearers of the art form for centuries.
Usha Parinayam
Uday Shetty and Soumya
It was a good gesture by the organizers to offer the same stage for a few amateur artistes also who performed Bharatanatyam and folk dance of Nepal and Sri Lanka. The audience responded enthusiastically for all dance forms. The festival provided a much needed exposure to the local community of the varied art forms of India and was instrumental in charging the cultural energy of the place.

It was a heartening sight to see families huddled together braving the chill of the night at the river bank, sitting in the natural setting in tune with nature and enjoying the whole night's dance and music performances in large numbers which is a stark contrast to the sparsely attended concerts in the plush auditoriums of the metro and urban centres. Among other things, any artiste requires an appreciative audience, so in this regard no artist should miss out on the opportunity to perform at the Tunga Festival.

Art from the heart always receives favorable response from the hearts of art lovers; this was truly witnessed in the Tunga Festival 2011.