Dollu Kunita (DoLLu kuNita) (ಡೊಳ್ಳು ಕುಣಿತ)
is a very powerful and robust performing art practiced exclusively by
men.(of late even women have taken this up more as an art form than a religious
ritual.) This ranks among the most
famous and popular folk arts of Karnataka. Dollu Kunita and its variants are
prevalent in different districts of Karnataka. Bijapura,
Dollu Kunita which is performed in villages on festive occasions and annual fairs has evolved as a ritual art over a number of generations. References to this art are found in many ancient texts literary and otherwise.
Dollu is the percussion instrument which plays a dominant role in this art. They come in many shapes and sizes. Those that are used by the shepherds are huge. This is prepared by the bole of light trees such as tALe, surahonne, baine, bEvu, (neem), mAvu, (Mango) etc. The cylindrical bole is taken in toto and the inner kernel is removed. The hollow cylinder is about 24 to 30 inches long and has a diameter of 18 inches. The left and the right sides of the drum are covered tautly by goat skin and sheep skin respectively. Dollu is tied round the waist of the drummer with the help of ropes/kambaLi. Right side of the drum is smeared with a particular variety of oil, (AvDala eNNe) so that it produces a unique sonorous sound. guNi is the drummer’s stick which is used to beat the right side of the drum. Left side is beaten by the left hand. guNi is usually made of bamboo and is about 18 inches long. The drum which is used on the occasion of worshipping ‘BIrEdEvaru’ the shepherd God is much bigger. It possesses a number of unique characteristics.
The number of people who participate in a performance is about ten to twenty. There is no restriction on the number of drummers. ‘taaLa’ and ‘koLalu’(Flute) are other instruments that are necessary. Those who play on the taaLa and koLalu control the rhythm of the performance. At the beginning the dancers stand in a circle and start beating the drums in similar styles and pitches. Gradually there is an increase in the tempo and the sounds reach a crescendo and then the drummers move on to the next stage of the performance. After all the varieties are exhausted, beating of the drums ceases and the singing is set in motion. The group leader stands at the centre with a pair of cymbals and he controls the recitation of the songs.
In the musical ensemble the singer is accompanied by instrumentalists with DoLLu, taaLa and caugaDi. Others provide vocal support. The songs can either be mythological or those sung in praise of a God. Some of them have moral overtones. Haaluumatha puraana, Anasuuya puraana, Pandavara pada, Markandeya charite and Nimbekkana pada are some of the songs presented by these artists. All of them are called “DoLLina padagaLu’. Beeralingeshvarana pada is a perennial favorite among the listeners.
Of late, Dollu Kunita performances are used to promote government programs such as propagation of literacy etc.
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