Culture of Tulunadu

Tulu Nadu is a very unique place in India. In terms of size, its a very small region – probably 100kms by 50kms. But in terms of its contribution to Indian art and culture, its a giant. Tulu Nadu has contributed immensely in various fields such as literature, dance, cuisine and so on. Even the great Vijayanagara rulers have a Tulu Nadu background (the Taulava dynasty, in particular).

When it comes to the art forms prevalent in Tulu Nadu, there is probably no other region in India that offers such a variety within such a small geographical section. Here is a short intro on some of these art forms.

  • Yakshagana – probably the most well known contribution of Tulu Nadu. Similar to the Kathakali of Kerala. Stage performance where the focus is on expressions, make-up and religious themes. Very popular even today.
  • Bhuta Kola – a mixture of art and belief. Form of worship to the Bhutas or demigods of the land. Very intense and colorful. Equally ritualistic. Not enough is being done to preserve this culture though.
  • Kambala – a rural sport. In a nut-shell, this is a buffalo racing competition in a muddy field. Extremely intensive and requires great energy on the part of the participants. Not really common nowadays.
  • Aati Kalenja – a very unique art form where “Kalenja” goes around villages during the monsoons singing native stories. The belief is that honoring Kalenja with rice and other eateries ensures that evil spirits are warded off during the rains. Dying art form.
  • Nagamandala – Like the Kola, this brings together art and belief. A very ritualistic dance worship of snakes. Snakes are revered throughout Tulu Nadu and it is but natural that we took to the dance form of worshipping them.
  • Dakke Bali – Very similar to Nagamandala but is offered to the “Brahma” – a local demigod. More prevalent near the Padubidri region of Udupi.
  • Hulivesha – similar in concept to Aati Kalenja. Common during Dussehra when people in teams of five to ten go around the town in the costume of tigers accompanied by music. Just like snakes, tigers are revered in Tulu Nadu and Hulivesha is a natural outcome of such reverence. Dying art form.
  • Koti and Chennayya – A dance form which stands as proof of how folk lore can influence the culture of a community. Koti and Chennayya were two heroic brothers who are worshiped as protectors of the land.

It is of course difficult to capture the entire essence of the above art forms in one posting. More research, support and encouragement is definitely needed for these so that future generations can get to watch, participate and enjoy them.


3 thoughts on “Culture of Tulunadu

  1. Dear Hariprasad,
    Warm Wishes
    While searching for Bhoota kola I came across your blog and it is truly amazing one!!
    Let me intro myself , I am Ashwini doing my PHD in social work and my area of research is organic farming policy, looking the policy from farmers perspective. So basically it’s a qualitative research with ethnography method of data collection. The method is used in the sociology and anthropology to study the socio- economic condition of the community. My research is also focused on one village in Dakshina Kannada and I am happy to inform you that all the features of the community taken into study. In nutshell I can say it’s a holistic study of a single village.
    I need information’s about the background of Tulu nadu, its different social and cultural rituals, festivals, games, shift in agriculture economy, oppressed, oppression, equality inequality, gender role etc. can you please inform me if your aware studies, journals books, people who can given me information to create a district profile of DK.
    Thank you
    Good day

  2. Namaskara Ashwini,

    Sorry for the late response.

    I am also in the process of gathering such information (though not at your scale). I do not have many resources right now.

    I think you should contact the authors of the following blog..

    They are putting up some amazing content there. I am sure they will help you.

    All the best!

    Regards, Hari

  3. Dear Hari,

    i am interested in the kinship systems of Tulunadu as well as their cultural representations in dance and drama particularly in trance dance like the Kerala style of Theyyam. Thank you, Susan

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