If you love stories then read along. Let us take you to the vivid world of scroll paintings! Here you will find paintings that would have you falling in love with the art that tells you the story as much as the story itself. Welcome to the world of Cheriyal Art!

 

 Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

               Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

 

 Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

   Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

Originated from the village of Cheriyal, 85 km from Warangal district of Telangana, Cheriyal scroll painting is a version of Nakashi art rich in Indian mythology motifs. Painted in a narrative format like that of a comic strip, Cheriyal art depicts stories from the Puranas and Epics. While they bear some resemblance to Madhubani paintings, they are intensely infused with local flavour that creates the uniqueness in Cheriyal art of storytelling.

Each Cheriyal Scroll painting is drawn on a khadi cloth opening with a piece of Lord Ganesha, followed by Goddess Saraswati. It’s way adopted by the artists to pay respect to the deities and seeking their blessings.

The technique of cheriyal scroll painting would tell you about the sophistication level as firstly they begin with applying a paste of tamarind seed along with tree gum and white clay. After applying three coats of this paste and allowing it to dry for a day or two, the scroll is finally ready for the further procedures. Now the artist draws the outline using a squirrel haired brush. Next is the turn for the predetermined colouring system. The red colour fills the background and blue and yellow colours are used for Gods and Goddesses respectively. While brown and darker shades are used for demons and pink skin tones are used for depicting humans.

Earlier natural dyes were used which were obtained from grounded sea shells, turmeric, vegetables etc. While today natural dyes are largely replaced by organic watercolors which are mixed with tree gum before applying on the scrolls. These paints are said to last over 300 years provided they don’t come in contact with water.

 D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

        D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

Today D.Vaikuntham’s family is only to practice the cheriyal art form, they have continued the Cheriyal tradition since the 15th century. They are the true masters of art form in this era. Apart from making the scroll paintings, the art has got a modified version of making masks in the same colour pattern and same themes of depicting the Indian mythologies as well. Due to the trouble of fitting in the modern world, the artists are forced to modify the art form.

The modified version of Cheriyal art as a mask

    The modified version of Cheriyal art as a                                                mask

Adapting the modern global changes is a major challenge for ancient art forms. It makes it difficult for them to breathe in with so many alternatives and replacements around but Cheriyal Art continues to survive. Ergo, an ancient tradition has been preserved with passion and zeal overflowing to keep it alive today and for coming generation!


India is a nation which holds a cultural hub which is beyond comparison and it stands with its remarkable harmony and colours of different cultures and traditions. However, the history of India is one another topic which draws out attention and when it comes to preserving the history and exhibiting it, we Indians take pride in it like no other. There are numerous cultural museums in our country which attracts people from all over the world. Out of so many we present before you a few unique and exquisite cultural museums of India.

Bay Island Driftwood Museum – Kottayam

http://s3.amazonaws.com/nazariya/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/24013018/bay-island-driftwood.jpg

http://c14996364.r63.cf2.rackcdn.com/destinations/bay-island-driftwood-museum-2849/Bay-Island-Drift-wood-Museum-(5)_slider_main.jpg?1389636139http://s3.amazonaws.com/nazariya/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/24013023/bay_island_driftwood_museum_kottayam20150213084411_223_1.jpg

 

A museum exhibiting an exclusive collection of superior quality driftwood articles of immensely high artistic value, prepared through a rare and innovative modern art form, is operating at the picturesque village of Kumarakon in Kottayam. Being the only driftwood museum in India, The Bay Island Driftwood Museum has been certified by The India Book of Records in 2013. Story goes that long ago a school teacher Raji Punnoose (curator and proprietor) picked up the habit of randomly collecting driftwood pieces brought by the sea to the shore. With each cyclone the sea brought along ancient trees and roots and left behind its loot on the shores. These pieces were gathered, cleaned and shaped to give them creative forms – birds, fish, and animals. This process of developing the plundered goods brought in by the Bay of Bengal is on display at this museum for us to see.

The Limca Book of Records has certified that Bay Island Museum as the only drift wood museum that showcases objects which have been painstakingly recovered  and collected from the Andaman seas and beaches by Raji Punnoose. The museum is today managed by a trust to ensure its perpetuity. Recognising its potential as a special interest tourist destination, the state government awarded it the ‘Most Innovative Tourism Project’ prize in 2004. Even though tourists many not exactly be making a beeline for the museum, the recent status of Kumarakom as an incubator for the state’s responsible tourism initiatives is good news. Since it opened its doors in 2001, tourists from close to 100 countries have visited the museum till date. The entry fee of Rs 50 is ploughed back into local area development as well as charity.

The government ruling that nobody can take into custody stuff brought in by the sea following the 2004 Tsunami means that the Bay Island Museum will remain one of a kind only. The museum is a perfect example of how a passion became an obsession and all those efforts given into this came out to be something which is unique and nothing in the world can match with it.

Address Chakranpadi, Vayitharamattom, Kumarakom, Kerala 686563

Contact 0481 252 6223

Opening Hours 10AM-5PM

Website http://www.bayislandmuseum.com/


Anokhi Museum of Hand Painting – Jaipur

http://s3.amazonaws.com/nazariya/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/24013027/India-2008-123-21.jpg

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/4f8337ef24ac66e9aae7464b/t/573948f9b654f9749a5cb7f4/1463372036048/?format=750w

Critics called it ‘a little gem of a museum’; this interesting museum in a restored haveli documents the art of hand-block printing, from old traditions to contemporary design displaying a varied selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.

Like crafts worldwide, the block printing industry faces serious challenges trying to keep pace with modern manufacturing. The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing addresses this fragile situation primarily through education. Dedicated to the art of block printing, AMHP strives to inform both textile specialists and general public alike; but more importantly, the artisans themselves are encouraged to visit and view their craft in a unique and inspirational way. Whilst block Printing and Textile heaven these two are the epitome of grabbing attention of the visitors all around the world. Apart from interpreting, preserving and collecting the Rajasthani art of block painting, one can also observe a huge variety of textiles in the three storeyed museum, complete with elaborate explanations of the make, meaning, quality and speciality of the fabric and its print. One of the biggest attractions in the museum/art gallery is the on-site demonstration of block printing, which holds a high fascination factor for adults and children alike.  

Besides this the place also organises film programs in its auditorium, where documentaries about the rare art of block printing are showcased. If you feel inspired, you can also enrol for a 2 day workshop where you work alongside the skilled artisans on your own project, learning to make blocks and printed fabrics! For those who might be unaware, Anokhi is a brand with many stores across the globe, known for reviving the arts of our past. Also, the building in which this museum is currently was painfully restored by Anokhi’s founders in 1989, for which they were awarded the UNESCO prize for ‘Cultural Conservation’.

Ergo, Anokhi holds a massive fascination among people of age and background. It is a zealous initiative in order to protect the heritage of Rajasthan’s legacy.

Address  Anokhi Haveli, Near Badrinath Temple, Kheri Gate, Amber, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302028

Contact 0141 253 0226

Opening Hours 10:30AM-5PM

Website http://www.anokhi.com/museum/home.html


Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi (IGNCA)

http://s3.amazonaws.com/nazariya/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/24013037/ignca_new_building3.jpg

https://d140u095r09w96.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/IGNCA_0.jpg

A premier government-funded arts organization in India, IGNCA is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Culture. It was established in the memory of Indira Gandhi, the late Indian Prime Minister. Launched on 19 November 1985 by the late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi at a function where the symbolism of the components was clearly articulated at different levels. The elements – fire, water, earth, sky and vegetation – were brought together. Five rocks from five major rivers – Sindhu (Indus), GangaKaveri,Mahanadi and the Narmada (where the most ancient ammonite fossils are found) were composed into sculptural forms. These remain at the site as reminders of the antiquity of Indian culture and the sacredness of her rivers and rocks.

It’s a centre encompassing the study and experience of all the arts—each form with its own integrity, yet within a dimension of mutual interdependence, interrelated with nature, social structure and cosmology. The arts are here understood to comprise the fields of creative and critical literature, written and oral; the visual arts, ranging from architecture, sculpture, painting and graphics to general material culture, photography and film; the performing IGNCA; and all else in fairs, festivals and lifestyle that has an artistic dimension. In its initial stages the Centre will focus attention on India; it will later expand its horizons to other civilizations and cultures. Through diverse programmes of research, publication, training, creative activities and performance, the IGNCA seeks to place the arts within the context of the natural and human environment. The fundamental approach of the Centre is all its work will be both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.

Since, Art is an inevitable part of human nature, and perhaps the only activity that propagates free expression of thoughts in its purest form and IGNCA exclusively sets up for the preservation and promotion of art in the country.

Address   Mansingh Road, Opposite Of Raksha Bhawan, New Delhi, Delhi 110001

Contact 098148 85236

Opening Hours 8AM-6PM

Website http://ignca.nic.in/


Purani Haveli The Nizam’s Museum – Hyderabad

http://chaibisket.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/purani-haveli-1.jpg

 

Located in the Purani Haveli, Nizam’s Museum is a place worth visiting. Boasting of a rich collection of memoirs, gifts, souvenirs from all over the world, it was created on the wish of last and the seventh Nizam, Asaf Jah VII, the museum showcases a glimpse into the lives of Nizams, who have ruled the city from 19th to 20th century, commencing a high rate of development. Nizam Museum is entailed of a wide range of rare souvenirs and intricately designed mementos. The major attraction here is the golden, wooden throne, which was used during the silver jubilee celebrations of the Last Nizam. There is also a gold model of the pavilion. Diamond inlaid gold Tiffin-box, paintings of Mir Osman Ali Khan, wooden writing box covered with mother-of-pearl, daggers studded with diamond and gold, caskets, etc., are a few popular items on display. An exclusively designed silver perfume bottles, a gift from the Raja of Palvancha is also an admirable piece of art. For car lovers, there are vintage cars such as 1930 Rolls Royce, Packard and a Jaguar Mark V on display.

Another prominent feature is the wardrobe of sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mahbub Ali Khan. The wardrobe, an entity in itself, is 176 feet long and has two levels. It is made up of Burma teak, one of the finest. The sixth Nizam, is said to have never repeated his clothes, which were given to other after being worn once by him. Hence a section for afore mentioned has been created and another section is of the wardrobe, costumes of other men, women and children of Hyderabad have been highlighted.

Thus, the Nizam’s museum is one extraordinary museum which takes us all the way to lifestyles of the Nizams. We have so far heard the stories of their luxury and sophistication but this museum engages us into imagining the life of the people who once used to live here and were accustomed to the life the museum so far displays. I bet it must be breath-taking.

Address Purani Haveli, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002

Contact 040 2452 1029

Opening Hours 10AM-5PM

Website http://www.hehnmh.com/

 


Therefore, these cultural museums out numerous others in India showcase the history and the unique culture and lifestyles of people who have lived and done so much in the and for the country. It’s a must to visit these museums and explore all that it has to offer us. The exposure of cultures and traditions of India that these museums gives us would definitely leave us spellbound and it would generate a new love and respect in our heart for our nation.

The mega diversity of India and its culture and traditions has drawn attraction from all over the world and will keep doing so. However the job of preserving and presenting the history of some extraordinary and exquisite culture of India has been done by copious museums in India. So far the blog talks about four unique and very interesting cultural museums of India which are for sure to leave you spell bound.


Author: Seemab Alam

Image Source: http://www.desipaintings.com/images/Chamba-miniature-painting.jpg

The romantic ambience of the monsoon season in the heart of Himalayan Mountains was once loved by a princess named Champavati, daughter of Raja Sahila Varman around 920 A.D. While Raja’s daughter took fancy to the site and asked her father to build a town upon it. As the Raja agreed with his beloved daughter and the town was given its name Chamba from the princess’s name Champavati.

Ravi River

Image Source: http://www.indiamike.com/files/images/07/95/31/chamba-1.jpg

The Chamba district is in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Located at the altitude of 996 meters (3.268 ft) above mean sea level, situated beside the bank of Ravi river and has the population of 20,312 people.

While Chamba is noted for its miniature Pahari Paintings  where Basohli style of paintings took roots with Nikku, the artist of Basohli migrating from Guler to Chamba in the 18th century. However Basohli paintings are considered the first school of Pahari paintings and during the reign of Raja Udai Singh and Raja Jai Singh, patronizing of this art form was conducted. In its continuation Raja Charhat Singh developed this folk art at another huge scale which had a long lasting effect on the local artists.

Image Source:                                http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RcZPg5ZI/AAAAAAAAAl0/TBHMXxSAP2M/s1600/PACF016.JPG                                  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RAAio8wI/AAAAAAAAAlk/FBURg_0DCSE/s1600/PACF019.JPG                                        http://www.indiamike.com/files/images/17/95/31/chamba-2.jpg                             http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RQtZZemI/AAAAAAAAAls/GbcQAMRgABQ/s1600/PACF008.JPG

Chamba paintings bear a resemblance to Mughal style of paintings including strong influences of Deccan and Gujarat style of paintings. Chamba paintings being very realistic and revealing social documents of history of those times also inspire from the natural surroundings and combine in the depictions of Hindu Mythology particularly the legends of Radha Krishna, Shiva-Parvati, Rama Darbar, Yashoda and Krishna, Gopis Love scenes, deer, birds and women.

Art has two different aspects of presentations, traditional and innovative. The art of Chamba, presented via Pahari painting school is basically traditional. The composition of this art is based on the old form. The main reason for this is the arcade for traditional style paintings. As very few artists have strength and courage to create their own idioms and independent styles that are really different from old forms. Many artists create copies from other paintings in a general manner, however they may enlarge and change the figures but the set form has a very hard grip on their psyche.

The major reason for the extinction of this art form is that it failed to evolve itself with the changing time and adapt itself into the contemporary world. There has been a visible stagnation in Chamba painting in creative demeanour when compared to the work of other artists with vibrant innovations we find in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and other cities in the world of contemporary artists.

Tradition needs to be preserved but the same preservation would cause the loss of any other substantial tradition is not appreciated. Therefore similar is the case with Chamba Painting. Chamba is a town with rich cultural tradition with many national award winners but altogether the town lacks the “art-world” coordination. The basic synchronization between the artists and politics either narrow or wide, demand of the market and changing perspective due to modernisation lacks in Chamba which somehow is responsible for the crumbling position of this wonderful art form. Also this has also prevented the artists of Chamba from a pure and delightful experience of interaction and sharing.

However the tangible connection to this intangible heritage survives with the preservation of many traditional paintings being showcased in many museums at Chamba, Shimla and Dharamshala and these museums also hold the distinguished work of artists like Lehru, Durga and Miyan Jara Singh.

Also with proper attention to this art form and by covering missing coordination of the art and changing world and fixing any other remaining loopholes we may preserve this art form from dying forever.

Its important for us to uphold what our ancestors have left us behind. Be it the beautiful stories, the massive mahals or the eye-catching art like the Chamba Painting. Our roots lie in them and binding our roots with such tempting traditions defines who we are.     


Author: Seemab Alam

Image Sources: 

http://i1.tribune.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/481629-DastangoiPhotoPublicity- 1355931408-393-640×480.JPG                       http://ste.india.com/sites/default/files/2015/12/18/442871-d1.jpg

“Woh Dastan aisi thi ki na palke chapke na kadam dagmagate,

Woh Dastan aisi thi ki hum wahi tham se gaye the..

Us Dastango ki awaaz aur uske andaaz me thi kuch aisi baat ki jaha jaha woh hume lete gaya.. waha waha hum bas chalte gaye aur khote gaye..”

The medieval romances, the tales of travails and lovers, stories of adventure, magic and warfare. All of these epics narrated orally in nature, The Dastan and the adjoin art we scarcely know about is Dastangoi: The lost art form of Urdu storytelling. Coming all the way from 16th century, Iran, dastangoi is the compound of two Persian words Dastan meaning story and Goi which means to tell a Dastan.

The origin of dastangoi goes back to the pre-islamic Arabia and with it the spread of Islam dastangoi came all the way to Iran and to Delhi in India. From Delhi dastangoi toured its way to Lucknow by the 18th century. All this happened during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 when many artists, writers and dastangos moved from Delhi to Lucknow.

When dastangoi gained popularity and started its regular performances at various locations of the cities, there was a time when it became very popular among the opium addicts and it became one the most vital part of their gatherings at opium houses. The early dastangos told the tales of magic, war and adventure and borrowed spontaneously from other stories like the Arabian nights, stories written by Rumi and in India, they also narrated the stories from Panchatantra and later own the tales of freedom fighters and other major events.

By all this time dastangoi was attaining its fame but during 1920’s era of sound and cinema’s revolution in India things started getting different as in 1928 Mir Baqar Ali died, who was the last famous dastango of India. With that this classic art form started losing its charm.

By now people started seeing dastangoi as a dying art form but Ankit Chadha, the very young and among the only 12 professional dastango of India and the founder of Heptullha a ‘heptular’ company that conducts storytelling sessions for adults and children alike has a very different opinion regarding the same. When asked if he considers dastangoi as a dying art form? He says, “I do not. But, my opinion does not make it alive or dying. Also, the question is whether we see Dastangoi as simply a performance art form, or as a living culture of storytelling which it once was. As a performing arts form, in May 2016, we complete 11 years of Dastangoi as it was reinvented by Mahmood Farooqui. He has led this journey with great success – from no traditional proponents to more than a thousand shows by 25 performers trained by him. We have created dozens of modern dastans – as varied as biographies of Manto and Kabir to Dastan-e-Sedition on the trial of Dr. Binayak Sen to Dastan Alice Ki, the adaptation of Carroll’s children’s classic. All this, however, its still the beginning. While our audience is growing (and not dying at all), Dastangoi is still seen as something exotic by many of them. I want to see these listeners perceive Dastangoi as a part of their everyday culture as much as I see it as my way of life.”

Image Source: http://d152j5tfobgaot.cloudfront.net/wpcontent/uploads/2015/05/Yourstory_ankit_chadha_dastangoi.jpg

There seems to be a tangible connection to this intangible heritage. Intangible as the very existence of this art form has got a vague approach of people. But noticing the encounter of Ankit with this classic art form which shares a very low limelight these days proves that yet being immaterial, dastangoi has got a very solid connection to the people of India with the efforts of artists like Ankit making it possible. Upon this Ankit says, “While Dastangoi is a classic art form, it has still not become established in the eyes of state or society like music, theatre and dance are. We are still building the ground and I feel fortunate to be a key player in this process. And as far as the limelight is concerned, the inner journey means much more to me personally than the perception of the media and others.”

Passion plays a key role in upholding the art forms that tend to be dying. Also the responsibility of not letting go of what was ours is another thing. Apart from Dastangoi being performed around festivals like Jashan e Rekhta and others, Jamia Millia Islamia – a central university in New Delhi inculcates among its students to uphold these art forms. Through this the youngsters of the nation are connecting to this art form and appreciating their inclination towards the same.

It’s said that when Dastangos perform a Dastan they present it very lively. Like moving pictures and sometimes they themselves became pictures. Sometimes they speak like old women sometimes like kids and sometimes like ghosts or whatever the Dastan demands them to be. Although considered a fading art form of Urdu storytelling, Dastangoi is being recognised more and more among people of all ages. It emerges as a phoenix and is ready for all the pleasure of being born again and being loved again.


Author: Seemab Alam

The art of stories, the art of spirituality and an art believed to bring good luck, Gond Art is the reflection of India’s largest adivasi community called Gonds who are of Dravidian origin and can be traced to the pre-Aryan era. The word Gond is derived from the word kond which means green mountains. The Gonds are a diverse group spreading over large areas from the Godavari valleys in the south to the Vindhya Mountains in the north. Also in Madhya Pradesh, they are settled in the dense forests of the Vindhyas, Satpura and Mandla in the Narmada region of the Amarkantak range for centuries.

The Gonds are traditionally believed to be storytellers, the Pradhan Gonds used to narrate the stories glorifying the king and this was mainly the source of their livelihood. While with the emergence of British, their downfall began. But it was during early 1980’s when Gond Art found its way back.

The Gond cultural tradition captures different aspects of Gond life- their deities, dance customs, bond with nature, myths, sagas and wisdom. In the early days the Gonds painted their walls with lively portrayals of local flora and fauna and gods. The mystical art form is created by putting together dots and lines and the artists used colours developed by charcoal, plants sap, cow dung and leaves in the early days, today mostly acrylic are used. Most of the paintings when perceived carefully impart a sense of movement to the still images.

While all these paintings are a tribute to nature, the Gonds belief upon the supernatural power is rather interesting. When interviewed Padmaja Srivastava (founder of the organisation-Gond Tribal Art) she says “It’s interesting to know that the Gonds do not believe in idol worship. While they stongly believe in Ramaini which is the mixture of Ramayan and Mahabharat.”

Also she talks about the same very passionately, quoting “I believe that Gond Art is a contemporary art. From paintings on the mud walls to paintings on the canvases, this art relates to many superstitions and belief. Every piece of art they paint portrays a story or a belief. They say these paintings bring good luck for them and protect them from evil spirits.”


BANA PAINTING

Image Source:- http://folkpaintingsindia.com/all-art/gond-art/bana.html

The above Gond Art is a creation by Mansingh Vyam, a Gond artist. This is a painting of the Bana which is also regarded as Bada Dev by the Gondi. Bada Dev (Great God) is invoked under a Saja tree by a Gond Pardhan.The Pardhans being the musicians, story-tellers, and genealogists of the Gonds, invokes Bada Dev by sitting under a Saja tree and playing a musical instrument called Bana. On listening to the melodious sound of the Bana, and the song sung by the Pardhan, Bada Dev awakens from his slumber and comes down the Saja tree. As very well illustrated in the painting.

Isn’t it beautiful to fancy how Gond art from paintings on the mud walls became so alluring on the canvases? Well, it was Jangarh Singh Shyam who first offered this art on the canvases using poster colours in the 1980’s and since then Gond Art has never looked back but only developed.

The entire concept of being rooted to the culture of their ancestors and believing in the ideology their forefathers believed, strengthens the Gond culture in an incredible way.

The exquisiteness of their culture and tales shall forever be cherished. The illusions of their art shall forever be hailed.


Author: Dr. Gautam Chatterjee

From urbanites view point art is viewed as a secluded activities of people and vision is from the standpont of Gallery de art. But for indigenous people like Naga, art and culture are inseparable from their daily milieu. And their art is functional within their ambience. In order to research and depict the Naga life Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA) has recreated their life through Milada Ganguli’s rare collection of Naga Art at Mati Ghar IGNCA which can be seen from Monday the 6th October, 1997.

Image Source: http://www.ibiblio.org/gautam/heri0006.htm

Image Source: http://www.ibiblio.org/gautam/heri0006.htm

Milada Ganguli, 90 year old , a connoisure of Indian art is the connection between the past and present. A native of Czechoslovakia, came to India way back in l939 after her marriage to Mohonlal Ganguli, a writer and a close relative of Rabindranath Tagore. She developed a special interest in the hills of North-East India and was specially attracted towards Naga culture. She has visited these people around 18 times and collected artefacets of rare kind. Today, one part of her collection is the holding of National Museum, Calcutta and second part has come to the IGNCA which are being displayed at theexposition titled “SUNGKONG”–call of the Log Drum.

The exhibition is studded with rare artefacets and photographs placed within the context of beautifully created panorama of Naga life ,the aura of bamboo and grass work interplayed with symbolic motifs of tiger,lion,cross-bow to the votary symbol of potency.

The exposition revolves around the theme of ‘Sonakong’ or the call of Log drum of Naga people. Symbolically it reflects the major part of the extinct Naga Art forms which are no objective articulation of aesthetics but a display of functional art of bygone era. The entrance is the roof of the Morung or dormitary which is decorated with long tassels of thatching grass. Then one walks over the dried grass reaching out to the Morung. This Morung is the epic centre of the Naga life. Here youth and elders meet to share their oral traditions,heritage and functions as a platform of folk cultural demonstration. At night this is the watch post to keep a watch over the enemies. Then comes the unique log drum which is another functional symbolism of this tribe. The interrelatedness of Morung–the dormitary and use of Log drum for community communications is the high point of this exposition. Dr. Malla, Art Historian coordinating the exhibition explained that….

To read the complete article, click here


Author: Siring Adol Caur

Vrindavan is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India. It’s the place where, according to Hinduism, Lord Krishna spent his childhood days. The city is 10 kms away from the Agra-Delhi highway, and is called the nucleus of Brajbhoomi, whereas Brij is the official language of the town. This place is known as the city of widows also, as 15-20000 widows reside here.

Lord Krishna holds a great importance in Vrindavan/Mathura like Mozart for music. The festival of Janmashtami marks the birth of Krishna and is celebrated in India espevially Vrindavan with great pomp and show every year. The picture of the Hindu deity is observed to be painted, printed or sketched by various artists on different bases, like Madhubani paintings, Cloth painting, Stained glass work, Broken tile work, calendars etc. A Lord Krishna’s idol with Radha is a common thing in any hindu household.

The calendars have the paintings print of Krishna with Radha, Krishna in a forest with his cows grazing, Krishna playing a flute, Krishna eating butter, baby Krishna with mother Yashoda, Krishna leaving Vrindavan on a chariot where the milkmaids are crying etc.

Image Source: http://cdn.vrindavantoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/080620111472-001.jpg

Image Source: http://cdn.vrindavantoday.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/080620111472-001.jpg

Image Source: http://iskconnews.org/media/images/venug1.jpg

Image Source: http://iskconnews.org/media/images/venug1.jpg

The painting of Krishna in Vrindavan is quiet common and is painted by almost every painter at a grass root level. Many artisans display their paintings in form of a calendar or notebooks in exhibitions, exhibitions cum sales etc. in places like Dilli Haat or the exhibitions organised by Handicrafts Board of India etc.

 

Where can you buy this traditional art form?

·       www.krishnaculture.com, sell calendars, and books on a theme based on Krishna and Vrindavan, also they provide with art based on Vrindavan.

·       www.krishnastore.in sell Vrindavan desktop calendars in 365 pages

·       www.goldenlotusproductions.com sells a 365 page full color table calendar on Vrindavan and Krishna quotes.


Lifestyles have changed so rapidly that our traditional crafts and art forms have been consigned to the archives, dying slowly with each new generation being brought up unaware about our cultural heritage.

Sampada Kathuria

 

Remember being beheld and mesmerized by the magical colorful figures dancing to the tune of a lively music, or narrating stories in their own animated way during your visits to Rajasthan or cultural festivals and fairs anywhere in India?

Puppetry, a real challenge to the imagination and the creative ability of the individual, is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment. Besides entertainment, puppetry serves as an applied art, conveying meaningful messages. It calls for a willing suspension of disbelief — through symbolic representation of real characters through puppets. The audience is persuaded to accept the icons as representation of reality and, through this representation, gets involved with heart and soul! Of all art forms, it is probably the least restricted in form, design, color and movement. It is also the least expensive of all animated visual art forms. It has been used in almost all human societies both as entertainment – in performance – and ceremonially in rituals, celebrations and carnivals.

Puppets have been used since the earliest times to animate and communicate the ideas and needs of human societies. Some historians claim that they pre-date actors in theatre. In fact, there is evidence that they were used in Egypt as early as 2000 BC when string-operated figures of wood were manipulated to perform the action of kneading bread!

According to Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, the root of Puppet is derived from the Latin word ‘Pupa’ meaning a doll. Ancient Hindu philosophers have paid the greatest tribute to puppeteers. They have likened God Almighty to a puppeteer and the entire universe to a puppet stage. The producer-cum-director of the human theatre has been termed as ‘Sutra Dhār’ meaning the holder of strings, likened to the god. Srimad Bhagavata, the great epic depicting the story of Lord Krishna in his childhood say that with three strings-Satta, Raja and Tama, the God manipulates each object in the universe as a marionette. The word might have found its place in theatre-terminology long before Natyashastra, the masterly treatise on dramaturgy written sometime during 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD.

At the turn of the millennium, when the Sri Vijaya Empire spread to the South Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, religious messages were carried far and wide with the epic tales and the Puranic legends, forming the staple of puppetry in those countries as indeed for all other performing arts.

India is believed to be the birthplace of puppetry, with crude specimens found in the Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations as well. The art of puppetry as a form of entertainment and illustration has found widespread mention in many ancient scriptures and literary works including the Gita, and works of Kalidasa and Patanjali as well. In fact, India has a varied tradition on shadow puppetry, given that records have shown that there was a form of theatrical performance by the time of the composition of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, known as the “Chhaya Nataka”. Even today, especially in Kerala, shadow puppet is a temple ritual performed every year during a temple festival for a specified duration.

Sampa Ghosh, and Utpal Kumar Banerjee, in their book Indian Puppets, along with appendices for Museums in India containing Puppets, Directory of Indian Puppeteers, and Global Bibliography on Puppets, highlighted facts such as,

“Puppetry originated in India and travelled across the seven seas to the Eastern and Western World as vouched by many scholars. Puppets dated back to a period well before Bharata’s Natya Shastra and have continued to be unabated throughout the Centuries in almost all Indian States. Puppetry is one Enduring form, which has entertained masses and educated people. The famous Puppeteers of Rajasthan are really acrobats, who only put on Puppet Shows when they move out of villages. Puppets are by no means only for children, — The Puppeteers of Orissa Sing and Dance about the Romantic Love of Radha and Krishna, and Keralan Puppets narrate Kathakali Stories in the same make-up and costumes.”

Different types of puppets are used in traditional puppetry, such that variations exist in form, structure, manipulation and presentation techniques. The different traditional forms are glove, rod, string, and shadow puppets. The local name given to puppetry varies from state to state within India. For example, Traditional string puppet shows, most likely to be seen at cultural fairs, are prevalent in the states of Andhra Pradesh (Koyya Bommalata), Assam (Putala Nach), Karnataka (Sutrada Gombeyata), Maharashtra (Kalasutri Bahulya), Rajasthan (Kathputli), Orissa (Gopalila), Tamil Nadu (Bommalatam) and West Bengal (Tarer or Sutor Putul).

The great Russian puppet-master Sergei Obraztsov said that the puppet theatre is just as “human” as any other type of human! Puppets are capable of executing fantastic movements, feelings and thoughts that are difficult and, at times, even impossible for live actors to portray convincingly. Inanimate objects and even the stage design itself can be animated through puppets. Flowers, balloons, the earth itself, skyscrapers, tools, furniture, weapons, and even just a beam of light are given roles. They can express feelings, thoughts and relationships, which is something only possible in puppet theatre.

In India, Puppetry, throughout history has held an important place in traditional form of entertainment. The themes for puppet theatre have mostly based on epics and stories adapted from early literature, local myths and legends. The early puppet shows in India dealt mostly with histories of great kings, princes and heroes and also political satire in rural areas. The content of traditional puppet theatre in India imbibes elements of all creative expressions like painting, sculpture, music, dance, drama, etc. The presentation of puppet programmes involves the creative efforts of many people working together. With the progress and development of civilization, the mysticism connected with traditional puppetry slowly started to fade which was replaced with an element of entertainment. Slowly, this art form emerged from the precincts of the temple and villages to reach out to the outside world performing on various social and contemporary themes in Indian towns and cities.

Puppetry has been successfully used to motivate emotionally and physically handicapped students to develop their mental and physical faculties. Awareness programmes about the conservation of the natural and cultural environment have also proved to be useful. These programmes aim at sensitizing the students to the beauty in word, sound, form, color and movement. The aesthetic satisfaction derived from making of puppets and communicating through them helps in the all-round development of the personality of the child.

However, our lives have moved along the technological advancements such that the television shows and the movies at the best movie theatres have become the only widely known sources of visual and informational treat. The new economy is based on information, where creativity, innovation and knowledge play a major role, more sophisticated forms of entertainment. The arts and culture sector is given less importance in development policies, and rather seen as a drain on the economy, even though the products of the cultural industries are consumed and reveled by millions of people all over the globe. Skilled craftsmen communities at remote locations are faced with a hand to mouth situation given the limited market, and thus are bound to leave their traditional work. With rapid change in lifestyle, aging and negligence, this vast repertoire of knowledge and wisdom that once sustained and nurtured the community, is therefore fast disappearing.

This ancient art of puppetry is dying a slow death due to neglect. Puppeteers find it difficult to earn a living and feed their families just by giving puppet shows as there is hardly any audience left. A large urban audience are not even very aware of this art form.

However, Press Trust of India reports that children of around 2,600 families with very few means of livelihood from the slums of Delhi put up shows under the banner of Kalakar Vikas School, taking an active step in the conservation of this Indian heritage- a step that many affluent people would also not dare to take. Their efforts are encouraged by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), who recently released a journal with the focus on puppetry, and The Union Internationale de la Marionette (UNIMA).

PAVAI, a tribute to the art of Indian puppetry and its practitioners, in collaboration with Madras Naturalist Society, conducts regular session in schools to create awareness about concepts related to Indian wildlife, endangered animals, understanding biodiversity, interdependence of animals in an eco-system and other related topics. About 15 schools have been covered under this project.

Chadar Badar, an ancient form of puppetry that tells stories of the Santhal way of life and migration, and a rare and obscure form of performing art, is on revival route and recently debuted on a prestigious platform — Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts —at the Akhyan Festival dedicated to folk art, including masks, scroll paintings and puppetry. Accompanied by song, flute and drumbeats, the puppets create an illusion of a rhythmic Santhal dance. The person responsible for the renaissance is New Delhi-based artist and cultural ethnographer Ravi Kant Dwivedi, who has been nurturing its practitioners and getting them to train fresh talent in the hinterlands. What he found fascinating about the puppets were their intricate workmanship- “Indigenous animation at its best — figures that dance in such perfect and continuous synchrony that they appear to be automated”. Dwivedi, an artist trained at Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan, has been intrigued by the form ever since he stumbled upon a dismantled but intricate puppetry set tucked away in a thatched hut at Noasar village. He failed to gather printed material on this form at Anthropological Survey of India, Asiatic Society and Indian Museum during the documentation of Chadar Badar for the National Handicraft and Handloom Museum, New Delhi and not many Santhals knew about it, either– only a handful of Santhals performed this form, and that too only for a few days during Dasain festival held around Durga Puja. Its revival thus became Dwivedi’s lifelong mission — locating surviving puppeteers and nurturing their craft. Finally, in 2009, Dwivedi directed a four-month workshop held at Santiniketan, with collaborators such as Asian Heritage Foundation, New Delhi, and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai. The workshop roped in master trainers Bulu Murmu and Som Murmu from Dumka to teach eight Santhal youths how to make puppets. The youths, two each from four districts in Jharkhand and Bengal — Som Marandi and Santosh Soren (Dumka), Arjun Soren and Sahadeo Murmu (Deoghar), Sukur Murmu and Sanatan Murmu (Birbhum), and Rabin Hembrom and Anil Hansdah (Burdwan) — learnt to make puppets with their intricate lever-controlled mechanisms. Bulu, Santosh and a three-member accompanying team trained by Santosh, performed at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. At the grassroots, too, the form is enjoying a second coming. The youths are now performers in their villages.

Daman Murmu, one of the few surviving artists who perform Chadar Badar wants to pass on this art to as many people as he can. However, so far he has got only one student. “Every morning I carry this box (with puppets hanging in them) on my bicycle as far as I can in areas surrounding my home and tell different stories accompanied by songs and hand-made crude musical instruments” Mr. Murmu told The Hindu, who was recently felicitated at an event by the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) along with an NGO Sambhav. He makes living out of the rice and other food grains which he gets from people after his performances!

Meanwhile, filmmaker Palash Das has come up with a documentary on Chadar Badar titled ‘Saga of a Puppet Show’ in which he highlighted the life of another artist, Sukan Mardi of Birbhum who has been practicing it for the past 18 years. “Besides being a tribal art form is also an important tool in the tribal community to spread social messages,” he added.

Now, a handful of puppeteers from a remote village in Kendrapara district have taken an initiative to revive the ancient art, locally known as ‘Sakhi Kundhei’. There is a village in the district called Palakana, where the art form is still alive, and the artistes perform live shows in the surrounding villages and even afar. Fakir Singh, a 62-year-old string puppeteer from Palakana, says there are some people who still enjoy the shows. “I carve out wooden puppets on orders received from puppet show operators. The dolls made by me fetch money, in addition to what I earn by staging the shows,” he says. A researcher of puppetry Basudeb Das, says: “It’s a tough battle to keep the art alive when more attractive means of entertainment are bombarded round the clock on the electronic media… So, the question is how long these handful of artistes will be able to carry on the ancient traditional art to future generations,” says Mr. Das. A practitioners of string puppetry attribute it to lack of patronage by government and non-government organisations, The Hindu reported.

Other Indian groups – traditional and contemporary- that sell this form of art are:

Puthali Kalaranga, a 15-member troupe of youngsters, is specialised in traditional Bommalatta puppetry at Bangalore. It has evolved a unique style of puppetry, recognised as the ‘Mudrika School of Puppetry’. They perform famous episodes from the Puranas, such as, Sri Krishna Thulabhar, Indra Garva Bhanga, Girija Kalyana, Kumar Sambhavaand Lanka Dahana, — using modern techniques to make their shows spectacular. Their Lion and the Fox (from Panchatantra) was performed in Kannada and English. The group has performed in many places in India and Iran. Director Dattatreya Aralikatte scripted Indrachapa by using mythological themes to deal with the issue of deforestation. He has participated in several puppet festivals and seminars in India and abroad. Karnataka State, DSERT, CCRT, etc., have given him awards. He has directed Purana Kathamala, a TV serial in Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. Putthali Kalaranga has evolved a unique style of puppetry, referred to as Puppets of Datta, which has come to be recognised as the “Mudrika School of Puppetry

Ramaiah is a traditional shadow puppeteer of Karnataka, with 6 members in his group. He is the son of famous puppeteer Hombaiah. They seem to lack invitations for shows nowadays.

Rampada Ghoroi is a traditional Beni Putul Natch exponent and farmer, has migrated to Kolkata in order to survive as a full-time puppeteer in the traditional glove puppet form with its terracotta heads. His family has performed Beni Putul Natch for the past 80 years. The repertoire comes from the epics, with some modern, topical touches added to keep pace with changing morality, be it an anti-smoking or new roles for traditional women. Music from Bollywood movies or a national calamity may find their way into the lyrics of his songs.

Ranganatha Rao is a multi-faceted artist, classical singer, composer, scriptwriter, costume-designer, light designer and director from Bangalore. Winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, he is a traditional Bommalatta puppet artist having learnt puppetry from his grandfather. He was a schoolteacher and turned a professional puppeteer as suggested by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. Rao’s Garuda Bommai puppets are 7 ft. tall, used during Ratha Yatra (Car Festival) in south Indian temples, where people get into the body-frames of the puppet and dance. Rao devised a special kind of puppet for use as visual aids in rural schools. He has visited international puppet festivals in Japan, USA and Europe. His group is called Ragaputhali, which has performed in major cities in India and abroad.

Kolha Charan Sahoo, who began his career in Ravanachhaya under the guidance of the late Kathinanda Das, directs Ravan Chhaya Natya Sansad, Orissa. He has performed Ravanachhaya all over the country as well as gives training to younger performers.  He was an active participant in the National Puppet Theatre Festivals organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1978 and 1995, and the Puppet Theatre Workshops in 1988, 1991, 1997 and 1998. He has been President and Guru of Ravan Chhaya Sansad since 1986 and published a book Ravan Chhayar Utpatti, Stithi o Vikash. Kolha Charan has received many awards, including the Bhanja Kala Parishad Award (1997), the Utkal Yuva Sanskritika Parishad Award (1997), the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1998) and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1999.

Satya Narayan Putul Natya Sanstha, West Bengal follows the Danger Putul tradition of Bengal rod puppetry. The late Kangal Chandra Mondal founded the group for more than thirty years, but the impact of mass media had already begun to undermine the popularity of the form. The present leader of the group, Nirapada Mondal, began implementing new ideas into the traditional Danger Putul in order to win back some of the audiences. He broadened his exposure to contemporary puppetry by attending puppetry workshops and worked with Suresh Dutta to further develop his puppetry skills and technical expertise. He has produced Raja Harish Chandra, Mukti Chai, Natun Jivan, Siraj-Ud-Doula, Raj Laxmi. Nirapada Mondal was awarded a National Scholarship in 1997 from the Government of India.

Selvaraja Shadow Puppet Group, Tamil Nadu is directed by A. Selvaraja, who was born into a family of leather puppeteers settled down in the temple city of Tirukalukundram, about 60 from Chennai. His father and grandfather were practitioners of this art form.  Selvaraja owes most of his training and skills to his uncle, Chellappa. While the earlier leather puppet performances entertained the common folk during temple festivals and fairs, presenting mythological scenes from theMahabharata and Ramayana, Selvaraja uses it to present socially relevant themes, such as child welfare, community health, population control and adult literacy. A play dealing with the issue of AIDs was peformed as part of the World AIDS Conference in Germany in 1993. In 1997, he performed in Hamburg and Italy. He stages his puppet shows in Dakshina Chitra, Injambakkam every Saturday and Sunday. Selvaraja devised a shadow play with animal characters for children sponsored by an audiocassette producer.

Sri Annapurneshwari Leather Puppet Mela is a traditional 5-member shadow puppet group of Karnataka. The group has travelled widely in India, Iran, Iraq, Holland, France and Italy. The group leader Virupaxappa Kshatri learnt puppetry from his father at the age of ten. He has been awarded many certificates from the State and Central government and also from abroad.

Sri Ganesh Yakshagana Gombeyata Mandali, Karnataka is a traditional group that performs the Yakshagana coastal area style. The presentation is highly stylized since it adheres strictly to the norms and standards of Yakshagana Bayalata. It is interesting both on account of its technique and content. Carved wooden string puppets 50 cm high play dance, song, dialogue, and the whole range of human emotions and passions beautifully. The plays and themes come from the epics and the Bhagavatha Purana. Director Bhaskar Kogga Kamath, son of the master puppeteer, Kogga Devanna Kamath, comes from an old lineage of Yakshagana Gombeyata, 350-year old performers. He studied dance, music, puppet carving, painting and manipulation from his father. Along with the group, Bhaskar has toured extensively through India, Europe, Australia and Pakistan, participating in national and international puppet festivals. He has been given awards and written many articles. Bhaskar is presently developing new staging and performing techniques to broaden the appeal of Yakshagana Gombeyata.

Sri Gopalkrishna Yakshagana Bombeyata Sangha is based in Kasaragod, in the North Border District of Kerala. The troupe presents its performances based on the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata in the Thenkuthittu style of Yakshagana, using carved string puppets with colourful costumes. The troupe used the string puppet form initially; now it has shifted to rod puppets, an innovation of the younger generation of performers. Director K.V. Ramesh, a graduate from Calicut University, was attracted to the Yakshagana art form carried on by the late Parthi Subba of Kasergod. He performs in Kannada, Malayalam and Tulu languages.

T.N. Sankaranathan is the founder and director of Sri Murugan Sangeetha Bommalatta Sabha of Tamil Nadu. He and fellow members are the manipulators of the puppets; give voices for the dialogue and narration as well as the musicians. The group has a repertoire of 16 stories, depicting different Lords. It has staged throughout India. Their performances have been included in the filmsIndian (in 5 languages), Avaram Poo, Sikappu Malargal andShonthamadi Nee Yanagu, as well as appearing in several Tamil TV serials.

Sri Nataraja Nilaya Charmachita Kala Pradarsana Committee is a traditional shadow group of Andhra Pradesh, which performed some big cities in India. Besides epics, they perform on AIDS, family planning, adult education, protection of wild life, polio, deforestation, etc. These puppeteers are in great difficulty now and seek help from all puppet lovers to preserve and continue their art form.

Some of the famous museums for puppetry are:

Bharatia Lok Kala Mandal: This famous museum is near the City Palace, Udaipur, in Rajasthan. The interesting collection exhibited in this museum has achieved a rear preservation of folk arts, costumes, dolls, masks, musical instruments and paintings, the high point of the exhibits being the collection of traditional puppets of India and some foreign puppets, presented by different countries. It has also an auditorium where traditional Rajasthani puppet shows are regularly held.

Chacha Nehru Children’s Museum: This museum at Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala, has traditional dolls with traditional costume. Folklore Museum, Manasa Gangotri located in Mysore, Karnataka, also has a very large collection of shadow and string puppets. Jagmohan Palace too located in Mysore, Karnataka, has collection of crafts object including puppets.

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad is located in Bangalore and is working since 1967. It has a collection of 2000 traditional puppets.

Crafts Museum: Located at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, The museum has an exhibition of unique craft objects, including puppets from all over India.

Indira Gandhi National Centre For The Arts (IGNCA): Located in Delhi, it is the national body for the Indian art and culture, and their manifestation in textual, still image, moving image and audio form, comprising both primary material of books, journals, manuscripts, paintings, sketches, slides, video-films, etc. and secondary material on their annotations and reprography.  It has a collection of slides of Indonesian shadow puppets and films on traditional puppets in its rich archives.

Karnataka Janapada Trust: It is the brainchild of the renowned writer and folk-lover H.L. Nage Gowda, set up in Bangalore in 1979. The Trust has a folk museum, comprising video recordings of shadow, rod and string puppetry of Karnataka. The museum has also a collection of all puppets available in Karnataka, including miniature puppets.

Malliah Theare Crafts Museum: It is situated in Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi and commemorates Srinavas Malliah, a patriot and associated with the theatre movement in pre-Independence India.  The museum contains a rare collection of puppets, masks and ornaments.

National Children Museum: This museum is in Bal Bhavan, New Delhi. It has a rich collection of toys and dolls from India and abroad.

Orissa State Meseum: Located at Bhuvaneswar, it has a collection of traditional string puppets of Orissa.

Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum: Located in Pune, Maharashtra, it specializes in “Chitrakathi” collection and its regional variations of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Narratives, music and songs accompany the scroll paintings that reflect the leather puppet traditions of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Sangeet Natak Akademi: It has a museum at Rabindra Bhawan, Ferozshah Road, New Delhi. The museum has a very large collection of different traditional puppets of India. The Akademi also has a large archive of audio and videotapes, photographs and films on puppetry.

Indian Puppetry Festivals: Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), under Government of India, has organized various events focusing on puppet theatre since 1950. The associated workshops during the festivals gave an opportunity to Indian puppeteers to interact with their counterparts from other regions.  Besides, SNA often organizes festivals of contemporary puppets and many modern groups also organize festival in their respective places.

Upen Biswas, Minister for Backward Classes Welfare, on behalf of West Bengal Government, in 2014 proposed to set up a National Museum for Puppetry at Kankurgachi to showcase different types of puppets from across the country, particularly from the state, to preserve the dying art of traditional puppetry.

Karigar Haat’, a 10-day art and culture festival, was held in 2014 at the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum where puppeteers from all over the country were invited to peform. The highlight of the festival was the display of a rare and almost extinct form of puppetry called ‘chadar badar’ from the tribal area of Birbhum district. Other kinds of puppets such as rod, string, cloth and wooden ones were also showcased. The festival aimed to promote puppetry as a powerful tool of communication to spread social messages.

The Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi, a cultural organization, in 2011 held a four-day festival showcasing dying traditional arts and also encouraging talented artistes to continue in these art forms. People witnessed some rare and brilliant and cultural performances, including traditional dying art forms like Suta Kandhei, a unique string puppet show. The turnout on all four days was quite impressive, which indicated that people enjoyed these programmes.

Earlier, Authorities in Jaipur, Rajasthan in 2009 organized ‘Putal Yatra’, the puppet festival to promote the traditional art of Puppetry at the Jawahar Kala Kendra to revive this dying art form. The festival has brought together different forms of puppets from across the country to entertain people. The aim was to bring together traditional and contemporary puppets from across India under one roof for the people.

There are many other sources of traditional puppet-groups and their repertoires. The religious and ritual origin is evident till today when we find puppeteers, from Indonesia to India, who begin their show with prayers to the gods and look upon their puppets as divine manifestation. They do not allow the good characters to get mingled with the evil ones and, at the end of the show, put back the puppets with great reverence. This sense of dignity, bordering on awe, brings out the touch of divinity in puppetry, which persists still, — not merely in the racial memory of puppeteers, but also in the living continuity of their art.

The passion and optimism of these people is a lesson to most of us who hesitate to protect what we know is valuable and on the verge of being lost to us forever. These artisans are willing to connect to youth of today to not only protect the various forms of this cultural heritage from dying, but also convert it into a form of social entrepreneurship. Banglanatak dot com is one such social enterprise working at grass roots with a mission to foster pro-poor growth and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Therefore, an impetus has been placed on the usage of culture based approach for development and community skill empowerment, along with use of folk theatre, to educate people on diverse social issues, mobilizing community led action, and life skills development.

Author: Sampada Kathuria