Lives Rolling on Drums
According to Mahesh, as far as the origin of Dollu Kunitha is concerned, it is said that there was a demon named Dolla-asura. He prayed rigorously to Lord Shiva. In return, he requested Lord Shiva to grant him a wish. Dolla-asura swallowed Lord Shiva. After being swallowed by Dolla-asura, Lord Shiva grew in massive proportion inside the demon’s stomach. Being unable to bear the pain, Dolla-asura pleaded Lord Shiva to come out. Lord Shiva came out by tearing open the demon’s stomach, killing him in the process. Lord Shiva used the demon’s stomach and the skin to make the drum. The demon’s arms were used as sticks to beat the drum. The demon’s intestine was used to make the band wear the drums around the neck. Lord Shiva expressed his anger through this violent form of dance. This basically is a well-known form of art and dance in Karnataka. Districts like Gulbarga, Raichur, Bidar, Shimoga and Sagar have been credited as the cradle of this form of art. This form of dance flourished in these places. And, Mahesh and his team have carried this forward in the last 20 years. They have been practising it has their livelihood as well.
Mahesh had learnt this art from a renowned Janapada Loka trust at Ramanagara. After learning this art, he has also passed on the knowledge of this art to at least 500 people across various schools and colleges. Mahesh and his team have been professionally practising this art. It is a source of their livelihood. The revenue earned from it is used to lead their life. Mahesh has been learning this art from the age of 20. He is keen on teaching this art to his children. However, as they are too young their education that is reading and writing seems to be the focus as of now. He would definitely give a thought about teaching them this art at a later stage. As not many people are showing interest in this form of art, Dollu Kunitha faces a serious threat of being extinguished. Mahesh feels that if such a scenario presents itself, he would fall back on agriculture for revenue. Some of his team members have appointed jobs. And, some work as drivers and farmers. However, Mahesh strongly feels that Dollu Kunitha is their team’s main profession and he would like to grow as a full-fledged folk dancer. According to him, the elders in the family mostly depend on pension fund given by the government.
According to Mahesh, his team members are versatile and can perform various jobs. While some are drivers, farmers there are others who have taken up government jobs. However, for a few of them, Dollu Kunitha is the sole profession. Apart from this, he believes in moving on with life as per the God’s will.
This art is their life. And hence, they are pursuing it.