Veeragase is a popular folk dance prevalent in the state of Karnataka, India. It is a vigorous dance based on Hindu mythology and involves very intense energy-sapping dance movements. Veeragase is one of the dances demonstrated in the Dasara procession held in Mysore. Veeragase gets its name from the Hindu legendary warrior and its a symbolic presentation of his heroism and valour at the time of Dakshayagna.
According to Hindu mythology Veerabhadra was a super being created by the wrath of Rudra (Lord Shiva) to destroy Daksha. Daksha was the chief of gods, his youngest daughter Sati (aka Dakshayani) set her heart on Shiva, worshipping him in secret. At the time of Swayamvara (was a practice in ancient India where a girl of marriageable age can choose a life partner from among a list of suitors. Swayam in Sanskrit means self and vara means choice or desire.)of Sati, Daksha invited all gods and celestial beings except Shiva. Sati cast her garland in the air, calling upon Shiva to receive the garland and miraculously he stood in midst of the court with the garland around his neck. Daksha had no choice but to get his daughter married to Shiva even though he was much against this marriage and he bore enmity with Shiva
One day Daksha made arrangements for yagna (fire sacrifise) and invited all gods except Shiva. Much against Shiva’s wishes, Sati went to the yagna,uninvited and was insulted by Daksha. Unable to bear the insults she jumped into the sacrificial fire. Hearing this Shiva got very angry and started to perform the Tandava dance which created turmoil in the world. When one of the sweat drop from Shiva fell on to the earth, it gave rise to the warrior, Veerabhadra, it is said that his tall body reached the high heavens, he was dark as the clouds, he had a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and fiery hair; he wore a garland of skulls and carried terrible weapons. He goes to Daksha's Yagna and kills Daksha and he returns to Kailash. Latre Daksha is brought back to life by Shiva when Daksha's wife pleaded for mercy. This story is narrated by the performers on stage in Veeragase.
Veeragase is performed by the devotees of Lord Shiva and they are called Lingadevaru. The dancers put on a white traditional headgear and a bright red coloured dress. They also adorn themselves with a necklace made of Rudraksha beads, a hip-belt called rudra muke, an ornament resembling a snake and worn around the neck called Nagabharana and anklets. The dancers smear vibhooti on their foreheads, ears and eyebrows. They carry a wooden plaque of Lord Veerabhadra in their left hand and a sword in their right hand.
The dance trope usually consists of 2 to 6 members. A lead singer in the troupe narrates the story of Daksha yajna as the dance is being performed. A huge decorative pole called Nandikolu which has an orange flag at the top is held by one of the dancers.
Folk Dance for ABC Wednesday
Folk Dance for ABC Wednesday