The Dashavatara Costumes

April 21, 2011 at 9:15 AMApr (Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

“For the cultural parade they are doing Dashavatara,” said Deepu. The University fest Utsav was only few days away and the fest would be opened with the cultural parade.

When I asked Deepu who and all were playing the Dashavatara and who was playing which Avataara I found out that the name of Buddha was missing and was replaced by Balram. I thought it was by mistake and said, “Balarama is not an avatar, in the mythology. It is Matsya, Koorma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vaamana, Parashuraam, Raama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki.” Deepu listened to me patiently and said, “But in Kerala Buddha does not appear in the Dashavatara and it is Balaram who appears.” I went mute for I did not know what was the belief in Kerala and also because I had never even heard this variation/ version.

On seeing the expression on face, Deepu told me that the previous day Kavita Ma’am and he had gone to Bhasha costumes in Udupi to get costumes for the cultural parade. Bhasha is a popular name in and around Udupi for his costumes. Though Bhasha is no more, his children are still running the show. When Deepu and Kavita ma’am said they needed costumes for cultural parade where they were performing Dashavatara and quickly Bhasha was taking out all the costumes of Dashavatara. As he was taking out the costumes while conversing with Deepu and Kavita ma’am he has figured out that in the Dashavatara intended to play by their team had Balarama as an avatar and not Buddha. Deepu said, “The moment he got to know that our Dashavatara had Balarama and not Buddha he said that he will not give us the costumes.”

I was told, by Deepu, that Bhasha junior got angry on listening to this unheard version of Dashavatara and thought tampering with the belief was an insult and hence said “I will not give you the costumes if you are performing Balarama in Dashavatara.” Bhasha junior also took out some posters of Dashavatara and explained it to Deepu and Kavita ma’am that the Dashavatara has Buddha and not Balarama. “He was just not willing to give us the costume if we showed Balarama as one of the Dashavatar ,” said Deepu.

Bhasha junior, a Muslim, not just knew the Dashavatara but also felt that tampering with it is an insult. Moreover he was ready to lose a customer but not be a partisan in an action which to him was not right. This happens in the heart of Udupi, a temple town in coastal Karnataka where the communal forces have successfully made Muslims an ‘Outsider’ in the eyes of the majority of the Hindus.

End Note: Not far from Bhasha’s shop is Krishna Temple where all the hand-made metal works used within the temple are manufactured by Muslims. Very near to the temple is the Pejawara Mutt where resides the seer Vishweshateertha who involved himself in the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement which led to the demolition of Babri Masjid.

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