They dance to celebrate Holi

Members of the Marathi Naik community performing Holi Kunitha at Kalathur on Saturday.

Members of the Marathi Naik community performing Holi Kunitha at Kalathur on Saturday.


The members of the Marathi Naik community, a Scheduled Tribe, celebrate the festival of colours — Holi — in their own unique and traditional manner. Holi is an important festival for this community. An important aspect of this festival is the Holi dance performed by select members of the community. A group of men belonging to the community dance from March 19 till the next full moon (March 23).

Uday Naik, “gurikar” or community head, said, “We have a five-day Holi festival. It began on March 19 and will end on March 23. The dance can be called Holi Kunitha.”

In the Hunsebettu area of Kalathur village, about 60 to 70 members of the community perform the dance. Besides the traditional dance, the colourful costumes worn by the members are eye-catching. The headgears worn by the dancers are also attractive.

The headgears are decorated with flowers and peacock feathers. The costumes worn during the dance have some resemblance to the costumes worn by Yakshagana artistes.

The group goes from one house to another belonging to the Marathi community members and dances. The dance performances are always given in front of the “Tulsi Katte” in all the houses.

The songs sung during the dance are based on the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. They also do “kolatta” and sing devotional songs. They beat the “gumte” drums during their dance performance. The performers are given money and other donations at the houses where they perform, which are then offered by them to Sri Katte Amma Temple, Hunsebettu. The last dance is performed at the gurikar’s house. Krishna Naik, an elder from the community, said that the dance during Holi is an annual event and he has been performing the dance for decades. “We have been doing this for generations,” he said. There are similar groups of dancers in other villages where the members of the Marathi community are present.

Source: The Hindu