Monday, June 1, 2009

In indian mythology the ten incarnations of lord Vishnu is collectively known as Dashavatar. To preserve the universe from destruction Vishnu took ten defferent froms (Avatar) from time to time. They are :

1. Matsya (Fish)
2. Katchha (Turtle)
3. Varaha (Boar)
4. Narsimha(half man half Lion)
5. Waman (A brahman boy)
6. Purshuram
7. Rama
8. Krishna
9. Budhha
10. Kalanki

In Sindhudurg Dashavatar is Most popular artform. Dance ritual dramas are held in most of the temples during festive occassions. Intresting characters in these dramas are Apsaras (Heavenly maidens) The role of women are also played by the men. There are nine original Dashavatar performing groups in sindhudurg and Walawalkar group is believed to be the the first. Credit also goes to pioneer Mr. Shymnaikji kale who introduced Dashavatar in Sindhudurg in 11TH centuary, same Dashavatar is today known as Adivere Dashavatar in which ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are presented one after the other on the stage.

A form called Aatdashavatar is also highly appriciated by the locals. It is presented in two parts. Parts onebegins with Ganeshstavan, Saraswatistavan, Brahmin priests entry and killing of sankasura (Purvarang) while while part two is a proper play and includes mythological stories. (Uttarang 0r leelantya). The first incarnations Matsya Avatar is presented to the audiance in the theatre. The myth begins with Lord Brahma who is busy in penance. the demon named shanrasura siezes this opportunity to steal his Vedas & shastras ( the holy Books). Lord Vishnu who is witness to this incident then promises Bramha of bringing back his vedas. Vishnu wanders in search shankarasura and when he finds him, fierce battle takes place between them. shankarasura runs from the battlefield and hides under water in a conchshell. As Vedas remained drewned in water, if was nesesary to bring them up.

To retrieve them Vishnu descends into the water in the form of fish that is lower part of body like thet of fish and upper part like that of a man (A matsya Avatar) in a Bottle under the Watere Vshnu finaly defeats shakasur who surrenders and explains the motive behind stealing of vedas. That he did so with an intention to pass philosophical knowledge of Vedas from elite people to down trodden society (Bahojan Samaj) Visnu apprecieted shankarsuras courage and gave him a vow that in the tree worlds (Trailokya) before woshipping Vishnu people will worship his conchshell. Vishnu then restored the Vedas to Brahma.

(Photographs courtesy : Khanolkar Dashavtar Natya Mandal, Khanoli)

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