Dashavatara term refers to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu ('Das' means ten, 'Avatar' means incarnations). Scholars are divided into two groups as far as the origin of the dance is concerned. One group believes it to have evolved from "Yakshagana"; another group considers it to have emerged from "Kuchipudi".
Many actors believe that Dashavatara is originally a dance form from Kerala , and they worship a deity of the Walaval region of Kerala. Whatever the source maybe, the form was introduced to the Konkan region in the 16th century.
Theme & The Enactment
The subject of the theft of the 'Vedas' is discussed by the "Sutradhar" (stage manager), 'Brahmin' figures, women actors representing the rivers, actors playing Lord Brahma (the Creator) and Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of learning), and the demon Shankhasur.
The overture continues for about two hours, and the proper drama known as "Akhyana" begins after this. The play, concerning itself with stories from the epics and mythology, concludes at sunrise.
The red and white makeup of Dashavatara actors distinguishes them from the spectators who arrive shortly before 11.00 pm for the performance. The evening commences with prayers to Ganapati or Ganesha (the elephant-headed god), sung by the Sutradhar (stage manager).