Bottikere Purushottam Poonja is a well-known name in Thenku Thittu Yakshagana. Poonja has had a long journey of 45 years in the field of this unique art form.
He is an all-rounder in Yakshagana. He is a Yakshagana Bhagavatharu (Singer) and Prasanga (Script) writer. Bhagavatharu in Yakshagana is a center of attraction for the audience. The role of Bhagavathike is not only singing; he is “Sutradhara” or the conductor of the Yakshagana Prasanga.
Poonja has, to his credit more than thirty Yakshagana Prasangas. He is also a Yakshagana guru and has trained more than 1000 students in this art form. He conducts Yakshagana classes at his residence and molds budding artists for the future of the art form.
Poonja learned his art from Anegundi Ganapathi Bhat whom he considers his Guru.
Thyampanna Poonja and Late B Jalaja Poonja, the parents of Poonja, gave the gift of Poonja to the world of art on the 21st of June 1953 at Bottikere, Manjanadi, Mangalore taluk. A graduate in science, he could easily have pursued a lucrative career in other professions, but his love towards Yakshagana pulled him towards Bhagavathike.
A Yakshagana Legend
67-year-old Poonja Bhagavatharu is one of the legendary figures of Yakshagana and has been part of many Yakshagana Mela’s. He had an association with, Uppala Bhagavathi Mela, Mumbai Geetham bika Mela, Puttur Mela, Karnataka Mela, and Kateel Mela. His longest tenure was of 27 years with Kateel Mela.
Vadhu, Vaishalini, Raja Drupada Panchajanya Mathanga Kanye, Rudrapada, Gangeya are some of his Kannada mythological compositions. His Kannada fictional Prasangas include Megha Mayuri, Swarna Noopura, Amruta Varshini Megha Manikhya. He has written Yakshagana prasangas of mythological and fictional characters in Tulu too. Kudiayana Kobirel, Kudiyana Kann, Aigule Dachine, Pattada Katthi, Dalavayi Muddanne, Nalikeda Nagi, Bangarda Gejje, Swarna Kedage, and so on.
His contribution is not limited to Yakshgana alone. His dance melodrama in Kannada and Tulu is also one of his acclaimed creations. Andhaka Nidhaana, Bhuvanabhirama, Jevu Kedage, and Hittale Kiwi , children drama are some of these.
Awards and Accolades galore
He has contributed immensely to Yakshagana and its development, and over the years, he has received many awards and accolades - the Yakshagana Savyasachi award-2007, Yakshamanasa Foundation award-2007, Sri Kateelu Lakshmi Narayan Asranna Shastyabdhi Sadhak award-2008, Kavi Muddanna Award-2011, Abhinava Valmeeki-2011, Ramesh Pai memorial Poet award-2012, Karnur Award-2013, Bondala Award-2014, Yaksha Kalaradhak Award-2014, Gopal Krishna Asranna Award-2015, Karnataka Yakshagana Bayalata Academy Honorary Award-2015, Pulincha award-2015, Yakshamanasa-2015, Yaksha Raksha Award-2015, Karnataka Yakshagana Academy Book award -2016, and the Sarpangala Award-2018.
His distinguished career in the field of Yakshagana has the strong support of his family. His wife Shobha and two sons, Jivithesha and Pareekshitha have supported his illustrious Yakshagana career.
Appeal for financial assistance to support the treatment of Poonja
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “The first wealth is health” but often our health is not in our hands to decide. Poonja has been diagnosed with Myelodysplasia, a blood-related ailment. According to information percolating from the family, he is currently hospitalised and undergoing treatment, and that treatment is likely to be a long and costly one.
His family has made a public appeal for financial support from all the Yakshagana fans and philanthropists. You can send in your contribution to:
Bank details: Parikshith Poonja,
ICICI, Koramangala Branch
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