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Halakki’s version of Ramayana

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | PRIYA RATHNAM
Published Apr 28, 2019, 12:07 am IST
Updated Apr 28, 2019, 12:07 am IST
This tribe from northern Karnataka follow Seethekami which is their own version of the epic and put up performances of the same from time to time.
Padmavati
 Padmavati

We know that Sita was abducted by Ravana, Hanuman goes in search of her with the help of a ring Rama comes, kills Ravana and saves her beloved wife. Did you ever imagine there will be another fabricated story of Ramayana, one that is not written by Valmiki? Rather, the Halakki tribe of uttara Karnataka believe in Seethekami rather than the Ramayana.

Uttara Karnataka has various tribes, folk arts and heritage which is slowly going extinct. Dr NR Nayak and Shanthi Nayak  in order to preserve their heritage, saved the scripts of the folk culture of this tribe in full-fledged written documents. In order to spread awareness, almost 80 books were contributed by Dr. Nayak to the society.

 

Savita Uday, founder of BuDa Folklore says, “I started this organisation in order to educate the people about the folk culture of the Halakki tribe which has various versions of epic stories. No wonder our folk art and culture is going extinct. Reason for this is the changing lifestyle and development.”

She further adds, “The impeccable contribution by my parents is entirely for this tribe and the revival of their culture. I was young when they started writing books of these stories. Everything was handwritten with lots of hard work put in it. My contribution was BuDa folklore to spread awareness about this rich heritage.”

 

Savita also adds how artistically they sang and performed at festivals day and night. Their amazing style of narration with a perfect Kannada dialect can mesmerise anyone. Their attire called Gumte is made up of, a saree, a neck full of beaded ornaments,  shoulder bands and silver bangles is the speciality of the Halakki tribe. “I grew up listening to different songs and stories. Their Ramayana is called Seethekami and Mahabharatha is called Pandavarakami,” she adds.  The stories seem to be original and part of our daily lives. “Here it is the women, who take care of the family, work and agriculture. So,  they are the strongest and given more importance.  Therefore, Sita is given more importance in Seethekami.”

 

Speaking about Sukri Bomma Gowda, an 84-year-old Padmashree awardee for folk singing has composed approximately 4000 songs for various occasions. Savita added “She is also stated as the Nightingale of the Halakki tribe. She is a descendant of the Halakki tribe and is the only treasure left for the tribe who has the knowledge about various epics they made. Though there are books printed, most of it has been left unrecorded due to the lack of technology. She used to sing and recite these stories all night. So many people are yet to experience the folk culture and the Halakki tribe’s style of singing with beauty, on the eve of Rama Navami.”

 

The reason Seethekami is mentioned as their adaptation of Ramayana is because, in one of their stories ,it is not Rama but Lakshmana who won the hand of Sita. While, in another version of the same incident with reference to Ramayana says, Rama did not have to break a bow to win the swayamvara rather he had to stay in the forest for 6 years, was asked to starve and follow few other rituals. If emerged successful then was allowed to  kill a crow that hindered King Janaka’s (Sita’s father) meditation.

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