Bandi Habba

In the month of May, in Karwar, Ankola, Kumta, Honnavar, and Bhatkal taluks in Uttara Kannada, it is the season for “Bandi Habba,” a folk festival. Basically, it is a pre-harvest festival for farmers to evoke the blessings of village deities before sowing. It is also celebrated in honor of those killed in wars and “Mahasatis” who sacrificed their lives to uphold the village tradition. It is called “Bandi Habba” because, in ancient days, the deities were placed on a Bandi (a cart with four wheels) and taken in a procession. The presiding deity of the festival is the gram devata. The festival is celebrated for eight to 12 days.

During the festival, a small water pot (`kalasha’) is kept on a stone platform in the temple. The ‘kalasha’ is decorated with flowers and ornaments, and the deity’s mask is placed at the center of the platform. Every day during the festival, gunaga, the head priest, carries the `Kalasha’ on his head and goes on a procession. At night, the `Kalasha’ is placed on a platform called Adukatte and worshiped. Later, the `Kalasha’ is taken to “Uyyale Chappara,” a swing. The gunaga conducts the traditional rituals there. The festival brings people of different communities together. The festival can be a tourist attraction and provide opportunities to study the folk art, culture, and tradition of the region.

Shedi Kale

Shedi Kale’ is a folk art practiced by Uttara Kannada Halakki Vokkaligaru and Patagararu. ‘Shedi’ is a locally available white Clay. Patterns are created by a thin paste of Shedi on a floor cleaned with cow dung to depict the agricultural practices of the community. Gamokkalu from coastal Karnataka, who lives on the bank of the Sharavati river, uses naturally/locally available wet clay paste (sheadi-the thin paste of white clay) to draw the strokes. Shedi is available in nature in the local areas. Sankranti is the ideal time to collect the clay.

They also prepare natural black color by using raagi and burnt dry coconut. The lines and patterns on these paintings each symbolize an aspect of nature or depict the community’s religious, and social agricultural practices. The drawing has been seen on the walls, floors, doorframes, doorsteps, and in front of tulsi katte. The main feature of shedi’s motif is 3, 4, or 5 strokes with a special hand-made natural brush called gerke or jaali sippe. It has got 3 or 4 teeth made from betel nut’s outer husk.(see picture). It would help to draw 2 or 5 lines /strokes or curves at a time.

This art takes place in marriages and festivals. In the marriage ceremony, kalasada shedi, petge shedi, hasagara have got symbolic aspects of rituals . “hasgara” is drawn on the wall where the bridegroom is seated. Kalasada shedi is drawn in the place where the kalasada gindi is kept. Thus Shedi has got symbolic and ritualistic values. It is communicated through art expression. Their motifs are mainly lines, strokes, and curves. They rarely use human motifs.

Kowdi Art

‘Kaudis’ are hand-stitched quilts stitched by women of farmer Communities, Siddis, and Lambanis in a few parts of Uttara Kannada with slightly varied styles. These quilts have a unique Property of remaining cool during the summer and warm during the winter. Kaudi a quilt is another distinctive material made in Anegundi of Karnataka. For their families, the women folk make quilts with sarees and leftovers of cloth to stitch the Kaudi. It is one of the glorious traditions of recycling and reusing. The Kaudi quilts are being exported to European and many other countries.

The cloth pieces used for the Kaudi are generally cut from used clothes or unstitched materials. All these pieces are stitched together to make the Kaudi, which gives warmth with their aesthetic beauty, which has lent a special touch to these quilts. The women of this region connect well when they gather together to stitch the Kaudis. The quilter may highlight these designs by using multicolored threads that are highly contrasting to the fabric used. To make the stitch invisible, the quilter uses invisible nylon or polyester thread that matches the quilt top. Some quilters prefer to stitch freehand, while others draw the intended design on the quilt top before sewing.

Kaavi Art

Kaavi Art is a form of painting on the inner and outer walls of sacred spaces. ‘Kaava’ means red soil. In ancient times, red clay was used in this art. ‘Kavi Art’ is a unique monochrome mural done in wet fresco technique. Its color is from ‘Uramunji’ – a maroon Indian pigment. Puranic themes and geometric compositions are common in this art form, especially the chain and lotus-bud border, as seen here.

A mixture of white lime, sand collected from river beds, and sea shells ground into a paste are mixed with jaggery, and the resulting concoction is allowed to ferment for a fortnight. The final hardened mixture is again pounded into a fine paste and is applied to the wall with a steel trowel or a wooden float. The etchings are made on this wall when it is still wet. Geometrical drawings are made with a ruler and compass. Larger and more complicated etchings are done first on paper by pricking holes on it.

Afterward, the paper is pressed to the wall, white lime powder smeared onto the wall through the pin prick holes on the paper. Etching is done on the outline drawings thus obtained. Strong steel bodkins called ‘kantha’s are used to do the etching properly. These bodkins are made in different sizes and shapes. The murals are allowed to dry for 24 hours. . After that, water is sprayed on them every four hours for seven days. This prevents the murals from cracking and helps in the preservation of the paintings. Finally, we have reddish brown murals on sparkling white sand-blasted backgrounds.

These murals vary from place to place and cover the entire gamut of mythological, historical, and contemporary themes. It is found in the Konkan region of the country, especially in temples of Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Centuries ago, mural artists and painters arrived on the shores of the Konkan belt, bringing with them a unique art form that etches tales from folklore and local culture. As usual, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavata provide favorite themes. There are Kavi murals dating back to the 16th century in many temples and ancient homes.

The murals at the Biggest MarikambaTemple in Sirsi, Mahalasaa Naarayani temple at Kumta, Sri Ramamandir at Honnavara contain classic, Shri Seetha Ramachandra Temple at Bilagi Siddapur, examples of Kavi art. One theory is that Kaavi came from the plains of the Saraswati, and took root in Goa around 600 years ago, when its practitioners, mainly Saraswats, migrated to Goa to escape political and environmental adversities. 

Kaavi art is almost a dying form of art and lacks revival attempts. Renovation and reconstruction of temples have been major factors in the decline of this art form. This unique but largely-ignored technique of wall art, known for its use of the rich Konkan red soil, is today fading away. We know that not everything survives forever; nevertheless, if future generations are made aware of the richness of our traditions and culture, it may lead to a more sustainable future.

Suggi Habba

Suggi kunitha is a dance performed during a harvesting festival in Karnataka. It is commonly known as the Suggi dance. It is performed for entertainment by the Halakki tribe. Halakki tribe people are agronomists living in the coastal parts of the Uttarakannada area of Karnataka who have a very enriched folk traditioned past. They are followers of Lord Shiva. They perform the Suggi dance at the time of the holy Festival. The Halakki tribe men perform the dance.

Suggi Turai

The dancers are dressed in beautiful costumes and wear a hat made of softwood with carvings of birds and flowers. They carry either a stick or a pea-cock feather while dancing.   The colors used in the turai are mostly red, green, yellow, and white, relating to most of nature’s colors. The group will have a comic character called the ‘sooginavaru’ or ‘haasyagaararu’, who will entertain the audience.

The Suggi procession of singing and dancing with the background of ‘Gummate’ is greeted in every house with aarti. The procession is believed to eradicate diseases in the village, bring rains and fulfill the people’s wishes. These are usually performed during the months of January and February with the sole motive of entertainment. This is a group dance performed on a level stretch of land. There are three categories of Suggi kunita known as:

  • Hire Kunita (five days)
  • Kire Kunita (one day)
  • Bola Kunita (without costumes)

The dancers dance for a specific number of days. On the last day, the dance runs for the whole day and night. Most of the drummers keep chanting loudly to make the moment livelier. Dance steps used in this type of dance are compared to the sea waves, curves on growing vines, or rivers flowing directly, relating its dance form to the varying aspects of nature.