one of the major types of music and dance performance of the Indian folk theater, popular in Mysore State. First attested in 1105, the term yaksagana initially referred to music performed at the feudal courts. In the 16th and 17th centuries a theatrical genre evolved from song and dance forms indigenous to the Carnatic and was given the name yaksagana; it was described by the poet R. Varni in 1557.
Yaksaganas, which are performed during the major Hindu festivals, take their plots from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and legends. They involve dancing, singing, and pantomine and include an obligatory battle scene in which the forces of good triumph. The performance is accompanied by an orchestra of drums, dulcimers, and stringed instruments. There are northern and southern styles for the performance of the yaksagana; they differ with respect to costumes, which are more colorful and ornate in the south, and staging devices. Modern yaksaganas preserve all the traditional features of the genre.