Cultural exchanges necessary to understand diversity

Ummathat performance in Kodagu. (Photo: Kaveramma)

By Hareesh K G

Kodagu is not only known for its natural beauty and hospitality but also for its cultural diversity. The district is home to people with different cultures and rituals. That is why Kodagu definitely has a place in the cultural map of India.

Even though we have a very rich and prosperous cultural heritage, we lag far behind in showcasing that to the outside world. The truth is that very few cultural programmes take place in Kodagu. One thing I want to make clear here is by mentioning cultural programmes, I am referring to pure classical dance or music, and not dancing to filmy or DJ music.

Alvas Nudisiri and Alvas Virasat should be an example for us. Recently a team from Alvas cultural group performed at a programme in Gonikoppal. Cultural development of any region takes place when we are open to different cultural or ethnic groups. Today, we can see a lot of Carnatic and Hindustani music events across the state. Fusion is a new concept. A variety of new musical instruments are being introduced to our music culture. These are the effects of cultural exchange that has been taking place.

Today, whichever the music, dance, art form that we can find locally should reach the world. At the same time, we have to learn and understand from other cultures too. It doesn’t mean that we have to follow other’s culture; but we have to be aware of that. One thing we all know in Kodagu is the lack dance, art and singing classes. I think the lack of enthusiasm to learn and enjoy different art forms is the reason. For example, a very few people like Yakshagana, that too who are with Dakshina Kannada roots. Kathakali, Odissi, Kalaripayattu, Bhangra dance forms are alien to our people including our young minds.

To expand the horizon of cultural understanding, young minds should inculcate the passion of visiting, watching, liking, practicing and understanding different cultures. I firmly believe that Ganesh Chathurti and Dasara celebrations can contribute in this regard. Instead of spending the government funds here and there, committees should invite professional groups from around the state and country and make our people open up to different cultural events. Pure cultural programmes should be organised instead of DJ music or just filmy music.

Educational institutions or organisations in Kodagu should think about organising a programme where different performances can be showcased. Obviously, a good amount of money is necessary for that. Even if not like Alvas, at least once in two years or so such programmes should be organised. By doing so it is definitely possible to achieve richness culturally. And whether it is Ummathat, Bolkat, or any other cultural art form, it is possible for us to make others understand it, love it and learn it.

(Hareesh K G is an Assistant Professor at First Grade College, Murnad, Kodagu.)

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