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Assistant Professor of English, Vijayanagara Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Ballari

Date & Time

Friday Fri, 20 Oct 2023


Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

Every year during the first ten days of Muharram month, the people of Agasanur village of Ballari district gather in front of the alams (a metal standard/ replicas) of the Karbala martyrs. The family of Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh), and their fellows sacrificed their life in a tragic battle at Karbala found in present day Iraq in the 7th century. In Agasanur, a group of singers sing the Kannada rivayats in memory of the deceased. Hundreds of people belonging to different castes, gender and age groups gather around them and listen to the songs with utmost spiritual reverence.

The rivayat singers of Agasanuru village– Dose Iranna (aged about 78 years), Usman Ali (aged about 70 years) and Raghava Reddy (aged about 65 years) along with others–have been singing rivayats for decades. Hundreds of men across all age groups dance in a huge circle and the singers stand at the centre. The songs unfold myriad themes touched by both history and recent past. Through this program, we intend to bring out the cultural ethos embodied in the locality and the fluidity of Karbala memory, which comes alive each year during Muharram as observed in
Hyderabad-Karnataka region. We aim to understand the manner in which non-literates have sustained the historical episodes of a culture through their memory.

The Muslim population is a mere 10 percent of the village, but it is the remaining non-Muslim population that marks it with the fervour of a village festival. The manifestation of Muharram celebration in Agasanur shows that it is limiting to call the festival a syncretic practice as its historical evolution in the region demonstrates that is has been adopted and owned by Hindus producing something novel in its cultural and religious journey.




He was born in Agasanur in 1945. He is the resident of Agasanur village and people recognise him as Dose Iranna. He belongs to Kuruba community and he spent his major lifetime in agricultural field.

He studied third standard. Though he is in his late 70s, since his childhood he has been participating in dancing and singing of rivayats. He learnt rivayats from his elders who used to come to Agasanur from its neighbouring villages.

Raghava Reddy


Raghava Reddy was born in 1959 in Agasanur village and is a farmer. He was born and brought up in
Agasanur. He has been singing rivayats since four decades. He belongs to Reddy community. He completely involves in the rivayat singing during the Muharram month. He completed PUC Science in SG Junior College, Ballari. He remembers that he started singing rivayats since 1987.

Usman Ali


He was born in a Muslim family, and a resident of Agasanur village. He hails from agrarian background. Usman Ali is also recognized as dalapati, a local informer to the police department.

Since his childhood he has been singing rivayats and now encouraging young members of the village
to learn the Kannada rivayats. He completed 10th standard in Tekkallakota. He inherited the cultures of rivayats from elders.

Chand Basha M

Assistant Professor of English, Vijayanagara Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Ballari

Chand Basha M is presently working as an Assistant Professor of English at Vijayanagara Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Ballari, Karnataka. He has worked as a Teaching Assistant at English & Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad (2016).

He pursued PhD in English Literature from the Department of English Literature, EFL University, Hyderabad, India. The title of his doctoral project is “A World without a Centre”: History, Memory and Mimesis in the Narratives of Orhan Pamuk”. His areas of interest include world literature, cultural studies and cultures of memories in South-Asia. He has presented his research papers at various academic institutes such as the University of Utrecht (Netherlands), the University of Leeds (the United Kingdom), the University of Muenster (Germany), the University of London (SOAS), the University of Augsburg (Germany), The Shi’ah Institute, London etc.

His interview with the African writer Ngugi wa Thiang’O has been published by Humanities Circle: An International Journal of Central University of Kerala. His research papers have been published in national and international journals. He is also a Research Associate at the Shi’a Institute, London, United Kingdom. He has delivered special lectures at various institutes such as Hyderabad Central University (Hyderabad), Central University of Karnataka (Kalaburgi), Martin Luther Christian University (Shillong), Rani Channamma University’s PG Centre (Vijayapura), BLDE (Vijayapura), Vijayanagara College, (Hospete), Don Bosco Arts and Science College, Chennai etc.

As a research supervisor, he is currently guiding PhD students in their doctoral thesis. He has guided more than twenty PG students (MA in English) in their dissertations. He completed a minor research project entitled “Karbala Memory in Kannada Orature: Mapping the Cultural and Literary Trajectory of a Living Tradition in Ballari”. The project was sponsored by V S K University, Ballari.

He is closely working with various academic bodies such as Departmental Council, Doctoral Committee, Moderation Committeee and Board of Examination at the university. Chand Basha was born and brought up in the village of Agasanur where his family continues to reside. He has been fascinated by the culture of Kannada rivayats that he has encountered from his childhood. He lives in Koppal with his wife and two year old daughter.

Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed