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A Conversation with God

Kuruba Dance, Kabini -

When you wish to speak to a god, you need a language so elevated, it beseeches Him to listen. For the Kurubas, followers of the Hindu god Shiva and the original tribal inhabitants of Kabini, there can only be one medium of communication: dance! Shiva is the cosmic dancer of the Hindu pantheon, and while the Kurubas worship Him in various forms like Beera and Byra, they also pay obeisance to Goddess Durga in the form of Yellamma and Chowdamma. Universally, while music may be food for the soul, in Kabini it’s also a means to ensure food for the body. The Kurubas use music and dance to propitiate the gods for better harvests, and as a show of gratitude for a good crop. The Atiketti is the welcome dance, and is performed to invite the gods to marriages, house warming and naming ceremonies, crop planting and other auspicious beginnings. They also invite an ancestor, or Sundajjan, to be part of the ceremony, and this spirit obliges them by possessing the body of the village purohit or holy man. The second dance is the Addige, which invokes the spirits of Shiva, Durga and the Sundajjan who take turns to speak through the Purohit. Through him, the village is advised on the annual crop, solutions to problems, and organization of community work. The final dance is the Aadi, which is a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, timely rains, and the wellbeing of the village. Pride of place in a Kuruba settlement goes to the Daval, a drum made of wood and leather, and the Kalaal, a native flute made of wood, bamboo and grass straw, which are elevated to the level of spiritual objects. After all, these are not merely musical instruments that accompany a dance, but a direct line to the almighty’s ear.



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