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Tulasi Raghavendra Hegde: Child prodigy who promotes world peace through Yakshagana

Perhaps there is no match for Tulasi Raghavendra Hegde’s contribution to world peace via exhibitions of multiple talents in a continuous series at such a young age

Tulasi Raghavendra Hegde of Village Bettakoppa near the bustling business town of Sirsi in District Uttara Kannada is a child prodigy. Although entering the eighth standard from this academic year, she is already a household name in the region along with the Malnad and Coastal districts and elsewhere the traditional theatre Yakshagana is being showcased.

Strange as it may look, Raghavendra Hegde, Bettakoppa, the journalist father of Tulasi Hegde, recalls: “Tulasi has been ingrained with Yakshagana right from the womb, as her mother and poetess Gayathri was listening to Yakshagana songs during pregnancy. As a natural instinct, Tulasi used to jump in a rhythmic way even at she was one-and-a-half years old whenever she heard Yakshagana. At such an infancy stage, she used to lap up Yakshagana with rapt attention…

Tulasi began at 3

She evinced interest in donning the Yakshagana make-up when she had just turned three years! To begin with, the mother became the first guru while GS Bhat imparted formal education. Ramesh Hegde gave the basic concept, Vinayak Hegde Kalagadde advised on dance and he was later joined by Ganapathi Thotimane.

Dr Sripad Bhat provided the background vocals. Among the most important backstage artistes included Bhagawat Keshav Hegde Kolagi, Bhagawat, VishveshwaraGowda, Venkatesh Bogrimakki and Venkataramana Hegde Huchhannemane among many others.

Prodigal, versatile, persevering Tulasi arrives finally

Apart from adoring Yakshagana costumes at an unassuming age of Three and a half years, Tulasi Hegde, says Raghavendra Hegde Bettakoppa, “Along with the significance of a Malnad kid making an entry into Yakshagana at an unbelievable age of Three and a half years, she ventured into presenting a world concept based Yakshagana at the age of five and a half years! She has also achieved an amazing milestone of doing so for seven different concept based shows in the past seven years”.

Tulasi Raghavendra Hegde on stage
On stage

Perhaps the multiple feats of Tulasi Hegde in delivering different mythology-based plays continuously on an annual and solo basis have also led her to a number of accomplishments. The dance-drama series has also enabled her to perform a variety of roles, including that of Lord Krishna, Devaki, Kamsa, Bala Gopalaka, and Gopike among others.

Tulasi Hegde, in order to get ready for the performance, has to spend more than an hour undergoing the makeup and shoulder the Yakshagana play costumes weighing 8-10 kilograms! Added to such characteristics, she also needs to keep the audience spellbound for the entire show with a duration of around One and a half hours and by any parameter, this is no joke!

The Yakshagana traditional dramas are not new to the Areacanut growing areas and the coastal belt. But a kid like Tulasi Hegde tying Yaksha bells and dancing with a background troupe of veteran artistes with 3-4 decades of professional experience is hitherto unheard of. Let there be no doubt of Tulasi being aptly benefited by such stage experienced men.

World

Tulasi Hegde presented her first world concept based Yakshagana dance-drama show when she was barely five and a half years old! The show was scripted under the guidance of V Umakanth Bhat keeping world messages in prime focus. Later Prof MA Hegde Dantkal, Karnataka Yakshagana Academy Chairman, who passed away in April last, continuously penned lyrics for five different presentations.

The 1 h 15 min episode Vishwashankarakshara show, which demanded a depiction of Shankara transforming into Shankaracharya within three minutes, was a mesmerising experience not only to the audience but also lauded by several pontiffs as well.

The third attempt, Sri Krishna Vande, revolved around Bala Gopala enabling the Gokula residents to win over the six enemies of mind while the fourth one had a narration of protecting the world and Lord Krishna’s contribution to this regard. The fifth concept in the Pancha Pawana story dealt with Lord Krishna’s efforts in purifying the Pancha Bhootas’. Vande Paramanandam is the sixth in the series dealing with Krishna unleashing moments of joy. Vamshee Vilas happens to be the seventh one revolving around Madhava’s love. Prof MA Hegde has penned the script while V Umakanth Bhat Karekai has directed the shows.

Tulasi Hegde, unbelievable at her young age has played the roles of Abhimanyu in Krishnaarjun, Lohitashva in Satya Harischandra, Angada in Surathanjaneya, again Abhimanyu in Bhishma Parva, Vrushasene in Karna Parva among many others. Not just that, hold your breath, Tulasi Hegde has given more than 600 shows in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Hospete, Dharmasthala, Tirupati and other places.

A well-awarded Tulasi

Tulasi Hegde’s significant characteristic is not just her scintillating performance but adopting the concept of world through a Karnataka art form. Recognition of her commitment has also made it an ever-increasing list. Yaksha Nidhi award of Kala Chetan, Gadag, Konkana Bhushan, Durga Yakshanrutya Mayuri, special talent award of Women and Children Welfare Department in 2016, Lions Achiever, Yaksha Padmini, Yaksha Ratna, Kala Kusuma, Havyaka Pallava, Kadamba Ratna, District Administration award, Kadatoka award, World Peace Girl, Nanda Gokala Deepavali award, Indian Kid Award… while the list continues to grow. Apart from a number of awards, she continues to be felicitated and her accomplishments have found a place in the International of Records.

Tulasi Raghavendra Hegde

Sri Gangadharendra Saraswati seer of the revered Swarnavalli Mutt, Sri Raghuveerananda Swamiji, Dr Gururaj Karjagi, S.Shadakshari, TS Nagabharana, Tara Anuradha, P Seshadri and a host of many prominent personalities have been present in her first shows of unveiling new concepts.

Perhaps there is no match to Tulasi Hegde’s exhibition of multiple talents towards a continuous series on the concept of world at such a young age. It is of no exaggeration that her display of acting, enjoying the lyrics and dance takes the audience to a different world altogether. Let this rural talent also get recognition at the international level as well.

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