UDUPI: Centenarian ‘dolu’ artiste and Karnataka Rajyotsava awardee Guruva Koraga breathed his last in Udupi on Sunday. The 105-year-old started beating ‘dolu’ (a type of drum) when he was 12 years old and performed till a long time at temple festivals and kambalas. Despite never having attended school, Guruva had spoken about the importance of education for tribal Koraga community.
As the upper caste community did not allow Koragas to enter temples, Guruva was known for beating his dolu rhythmically, standing some distance away from the temple premises during festivals. Hailing from Nandikur, he later built his house at Guddeangady near Hiriyadka. He was well-versed in weaving baskets. Guruva could play his 15-kg dolu for about two hours, enthralling the audience.
He taught this art to many youngsters and has several awards to his credit, including an honorary award from the Karnataka Janapada Academy in 2017. He was born as the eldest son to Thoma and Thumbe, who were staying in Malnad region. Later, they shifted to Nandikur and then to Hiriyadka when he was around 6 years old.
He married Kargi of Alevoor and the couple had three daughters. Guruva always opposed oppression. He once spoke about some upper caste people not giving dead cattle to his community but burying them instead. For the same reason, he moved away from a hut given to him. Later, Guruva settled with his family on a government allotted land.
“With Guruva’s death, we have lost the precious memories of the last hundred years. He was a repository of the community-much marginalised, yet struggling to assert itself. His energetic dolu still resounds in my ears when he beat his ‘dolu’ both forcefully and rhythmically after felicitation a couple of years back at Regional Resources Center for Folk Performing Arts (MAHE),” recalled center’s former coordinator Prof Varadesh Hiregange. “Though he reminded us of Shivaram Karanth’s Choma, Guruva’s dolu represented a new-found confidence as well,” he added.