Aati Kalenja Dance of Udupi
The traditional dance form of Udupi is Aati Kalenja. It is a cultured and typical form of dance. The main time during which it is performed is from July- August, during the rainy season. Kalenja represents a spirit known as Bhuta and hence a man performs the task of Bhuta in the dance. There is a drummer with the Bhuta. Both then visit different villages and perform in front of homes of people. People come out of their houses and give them rice or coconut after enjoying their performance.
People never deny giving them because alms because it is believed that if one treats them properly all evil spirits will leave the village for their betterment. Therefore they are treated as saviors of the village from bad power. Therefore everyone in the village welcomes them eagerly. The people who perform this dance are a different community known as Nalike. The costume is made up of coconut leaves and the cap is made up from areca spate. The dress looks really iridescent; it is fading away fast and is now performed only in a few villages. Their face is painted with haldi (turmeric powder), dark liner on eyebrows and dark shades of lip color. They also wear anklets that match up with every rhythmic moment of their bodies during the performance. They also carry with them a parasol made from coconut leaves. They dress up as evil spirits and it is a spectacular sight.
They performance denotes getting rid of evil spirits, praying for less crop less lands and warding away of sadness. They promise to fill your lives with joy and in return they only demand for small offerings from your side. Aati Kalenja is basically an agriculture dance and hence performed in the month of July which is start of the farming season. They bless the land and pray for a good year of harvesting. Monsoon also is the time when diseases hit the villages so it is also the duty of Aati Kalenja dancers to protect people from various diseases especially those which affects kids through their dance to please the Gods of destruction and ill health. Another community called Mogera community also performs this Aati Kalenja. The only difference is that in Nalike community mainly young boys perform this task while on other it is performed by two big men.
It is really amazing to know that not any kind of training is given to them to perform such dance. It is simple and they learn it by themselves. Some of their famous steps are clicking their heels, walking with only toes. It is also great to know the youth of village is preserving the cultural with all their heart and most importantly, they are really preserving it in its own traditional form. Unfortunately the tradition is gradually fading away and the older generation of the village is trying hard to explain the coming generation the important significance of the tradition.
Now if you are really want to experience the gradually extincting tradition then you should invest you holiday on the village of Udupi in Karnataka. Only by reading this article you will not get real feeling for that you have to go there. Hope you will love the place!