Those of you who have read my earlier posts would know that I live in a vibrant apartment complex called Purva Venezia, which is multi-cultural and takes pride in coming together to celebrate its diversity.
After a hiatus of 2 years due to COVID, this year all the festivities have been celebrated with great gusto. The Kannadigas too celebrated an important day recently and the entire community participated with great enthusiasm. We had various cultural programs by residents including a few dances by kids and ladies and a dance drama followed by a musical evening. The highlight of the morning’s program was the Kolaata Dance by around 60 women of Venezia, in which I participated as well.
The specially made Ilkal Saree in purple, costume for our Kolaata.
What Is Kannada Rajyothsava
On 1st November, the state formation day is celebrated as Kannada Rajyothsava or Karnataka Rajyothsava. In 1956, all Kannada speaking regions came together to form the State Of Karnataka. This date is marked as a state holiday every year and is celebrated with the hoisting of the National & State Flags and cultural programs. The other 3 neighboring South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu were also formed on the same day. Chattisgarh, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh too share this state formation day.
The Kolaata Experience
Kolaata is a dance performed with sticks, similar to Dandiya. It is a traditional dance followed in the south, particularly Karnataka & Tamil Nadu.
I had forgotten to register for the dance and with my college, writing and coordinating for the Diwali Celebration (YES! We had a Diwali Milan too with high tea and Tambola) I thought I would give this one a miss. I was sure I couldn’t fit in the practices. Then a chance encounter with one of the coordinators made me change my mind. Though born a Tamilian, I take pride in calling myself a Kannadiga as I have lived here all my life. This city has made me what I am today and I identify with the culture here much more than the one that I was born to. So I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am glad that I was able to join last-minute.
Morning Kolaata In Ilkal & Finery.
The 2 songs chosen for the dance “Cheluvaiah Cheluvo” & “Gallu Gallanutha” are classics to which most of us would have performed in schools and communities as kids. So in that sense, it was nostalgic too. Though the practices started almost 20 days in advance, due to Diwali a lot of us were traveling to hometowns or busy cleaning the house. So the attendance was inconsistent. But the teachers patiently taught all latecomers, ensuring we were updated via video recordings too. Once the festivities were over, we got to serious practice across 5 evenings, before D-day. Even the suddenly chilly Bangalore evenings could not keep us away as all of us came prepared in our hoodies, sweaters, and caps.
The evening impromptu performance, more informally dressed in the colors of Karnataka – Red & Yellow.
On 1st November, all of us were ready in our specially ordered purple Ilkal sarees, decked up with Kasu Mala and other finery. We enjoyed the other programs along with the audience and shopped at the flea market as well for around 3 hours, while we waited for our dance to be announced. Since we were around 60 women, we were dancing in the open in the amphitheater and not on stage. As the music started, so did the rain. And strangely, it also stopped when we stopped dancing – like it was a sign from above! Though for a few moments initially we were disheartened, the team spirit kicked in as each of us decided to dance despite the rain and have fun. All of us smiled throughout and encouraged each other so that the rain could not deter even one of us. The audience too was equally great and stayed on in the rain, continuously cheering us. In fact, the dance was such a hit, that we performed again in the evening to conclude the Rajyotsava celebrations.
The bond and camaraderie that such events bring cannot be aptly described with words. Many of us who knew each other only by names, bonded well during this time. New friendships were formed. Barriers were broken. Limitations were tested and overcome. I guess that is what happens with the collective power of so many women coming together to rejoice and celebrate.
A big shout out to the 3 wonderful choreographers Rashmi, Sapna & Deepti and to Anitha, Vinuta, Mamta, Nagamani, Krupa, Vedika, Ramya & Mahesh Sir for their inputs and help with coordination to pull off this dance on such a large scale. Believe me, it wasn’t an easy task to manage the changing partners and positions!
Top picture courtesy via Google search, Praveen Kumar on Dribble (https://dribbble.com/shots/5485721)