(Last Updated on : 14/06/2010)
Death of Baka is an important episode of the folk drama of South India. The "Death of Baka" is quite commonly performed by villagers. Most significant, however, the "Death of Baka" is the only Mahabharata
episode to figure consistently as a village ritual street drama of this type and to resist more normative dramatic treatment as part of the Terukkuttu repertoire. In the episode related to the Death of Baka where the itinerant Terukkuttu
actors take part in the Death of Baka, their performance replicates a local ritual street drama. Presumably, where they are asked to perform this scene, it is because they do it better than local village actors, or because there are no local actors to perform it. But it is known that the "Death of Baka" is quite commonly performed by villagers. At some festivals, they enact the scene before the Terukkuttu troupe arrives: thirteen days before at Mankalam, ten days before at Kilkoturikalur.
The enactment of "Death of Baka" always requires two actors, one representing Bhima
in Brahman disguise, and the other the demon Baka. The actor representing Bhima, disguised as a Brahman, sits on a bullock cart beside the temple's processional Bhima icon while the Baka actor cavorts about the cart demonically, leaping, jumping, and screaming. The cart follows a music band (melam) around the village, stopping at houses to receive offerings of rice and sweets that are given to Bhima to constitute his tribute to Baka. When the two returns to the vicinity of the Draupadi temple, Bhima taunts Baka by eating the food rather than giving it to him. The rice on the cart is only a thin layer over a pile of sand, Bhima eating the former and leaving Baka the latter, to his disgust. Bhima awes Baka with his strength and anger by uprooting a banyan tree for Baka to use for his toothpick and diverting a stream with his leg for Baka to slake his thirst. Outraged by these humiliations, Baka attacks Bhima and is killed.
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