Mela (hejje mELa) (ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ
ಮೇಳ) is a variety of folk dance prevalent among rural
The performing troupes consist of even number of participants and usually they dance in pairs. The dancing artists wear white shirts, dhotis tied up to their knees, a colored waist band and a white/red turban. They hold a stick in their right hand and an yellow colored kerchief in the left. Occasionally Kerchiefs are held in both hands. Anklets that are worn invariably, produce a jingling sound which adds to the charm of the dance.
The first member of the dancing pair puts his steps in a pre determined manner and the second dancer indulges in appropriate jumps. After a while these roles are exchanged. However at a given point of time all the artists in the troupe will either be jumping or performing steps. This dance consists of various steps such as one step (ond hejje), double step (eraDhejje), simple step (sAdA hejje), suttu kOl hejje etc. ‘suttu kOl hejje’ and ‘hadinAru baski) are the most complex and attractive among these acts. In ‘suttu kOlATa’, artists standing in two rows wave the sticks held in one of their hands and tap the sticks held by their companions. All this takes place to the tune of musical instruments.
‘HadinAru baski’ is a unique item in Hejje Mela. This involves a grouping of the artists in to batches of four. The artists jump over one another backwards and forwards. This requires extreme skill, agility and control.
Instruments such as drums (tamaTe), tablaa, cymbals (tALa) and harmonium are used to provide the back ground score. The leader of the troupe is also the singer and he plays on the tablaa and cymbals. Once in a while the songs are replaced by the melody of Shehnai. The artist plays the tunes of popular songs on Shehnai. Hejje Mela which is usually performed during the Muharrum festival is performed by Hindu artists also. Thus it has become a symbol of communal harmony.