Culture of india

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  • Main centers of - Kutch and Kathiawar.

  • instruments used are: bhungal, tabla, flute, pakhaawaj, rabaab, sarangi, manjeera, etc.

  • there is a rare synthesis of devotional and romantic sentiments.


  • Fairs in honour of gods, or religious rituals and ceremonies have within their framework musical plays are known as Jatra.

  • Krishna Jatra became popular due to Chaitanya prabhu's influence.

  • earlier form of Jatra has been musical & dialogues were added at later stage.

  • The actors themselves describe the change of scene, the place of action, etc.


  • cultural glimpses of Assam, Bengal Orissa, Mathura and Brindavan can be seen.

  • The Sutradhaar, or narrator begins the story, first in Sanskrit and then in either Brajboli or Assamese.


  • Maach is used for the stage itself as also for the play.

  • songs are given prominence in between the dialogues.

  • The term for dialogue in this form is bol and rhyme in narration is termed vanag.

  • The tunes of this theatre form are known as rangat.


  • evolved from the folk forms such as Gondhal, Jagran and Kirtan.

  • female actress is the chief exponent of dance movements in the play. She is known as Murki.

  • Classical music, footwork at lightning-speed, and vivid gestures make it possible to portray all the emotions through dance.


  • personify the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu-the god of preservation and creativity. The ten incarnations are Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narsimha (lion-man), Vaman (dwarf), Parashuram, Rama, Krishna (or Balram), Buddha and Kalki.

  • Apart from stylized make-up, the Dashavatar performers wear masks of wood and papier mache.


  • came into existence in the middle of 17th century A.D. under the patronage of King Manavada of Calicut.

  • Krishnattam is a cycle of eight plays performed for eight consecutive days.

  • The plays are Avataram, Kaliamandana, Rasa krida, kamasavadha, Swayamvaram, Bana Yudham, Vivida Vadham, and Swargarohana.

  • episodes are based on the theme of Lord Krishna - his birth, childhood pranks and various deeds depicting victory of good over evil.


  • celebrated in the month of Vrischikam (November-December). performed only in the Kali temples of Kerala, as an oblation to the Goddess.

  • depicts the triumph of goddess Bhadrakali over the asura Darika.

  • seven characters in Mudiyettu-Shiva, Narada, Darika, Danavendra, Bhadrakali, Kooli and Koimbidar (Nandikeshvara) are all heavily made-up.


  • 'Theyyam' derived from the Sanskrit word 'Daivam' meaning God.

  • Hence it is called God's dance.

  • performed by various castes to appease and worship spirits.

  • distinguishing features - colourful costume and awe-inspiring headgears (mudi) nearly 5 to 6 feet high made of arecanut splices, bamboos, leaf sheaths of arecanut and wooden planks and dyed into different strong colours using turmeric, wax and arac.


  • based on Sanskrit theatre traditions.

  • characters of this theatre form are:

  • Chakyaar or actor,

  • Naambiyaar, the instrumentalists and

  • Naangyaar, those taking on women's roles.

  • The Sutradhar or narrator and the Vidushak or jesters are the protagonists.

  • Vidushak alone delivers the dialogues.

  • Emphasis on hand gestures and eye movements makes this dance and theatre form unique.


  • based on mythological stories and Puranas.

  • most popular episodes are from the Mahabharata i.e. Draupadi swayamvar, Subhadra vivah, Abhimanyu vadh, Karna-Arjun yuddh and from Ramayana i.e. Raajyaabhishek, Lav-kush Yuddh, Baali-Sugreeva yuddha and Panchavati.


  • literally means "street play".

  • mostly performed at the time of annual temple festivals of Mariamman (Rain goddess) to achieve rich harvest.

  • there is a cycle of eight plays based on the life of Draupadi.

  • Kattiakaran, the Sutradhara gives the gist of the play to the audience

  • Komali entertains the audience with his buffoonery.


  • deals with serious question of life & death briefly and with simplicity of expression & diction, all enveloped in humour.

  • Indeed, audience is given essence of our cultural heritage of viewing the world as a stage and as an unsubstantial pageant which is to be negotiated and lived by rising above it.

  • There is often stylistic diversity, which strengthens their identity from Swang, Nautanki, Bhagat, etc..


  • puppet has to be more than his live counterpart

  • Ancient Hindu philosophers have likened God Almighty to a puppeteer and the entire universe to a puppet stage.

  • themes are mostly based on epics and legends.


Kathputli, Rajasthan

  • Carved from a single piece of wood

  • large dolls - colourfully dressed.

  • costumes and headgears are designed in the medieval Rajasthani style of dress, which is prevalent even today.

  • accompanied by a highly dramatised version of the regional music.

  • Oval faces, large eyes, arched eyebrows and large lips - distinct facial features.

  • wear long trailing skirts and do not have legs.

  • Puppeteers manipulate them with two to five strings which are normally tied to their fingers and not to a prop or a support.

Kundhei, Orissa

  • Made of light wood,

  • have no legs but wear long flowing skirts.

  • have more joints and are, therefore, more versatile, articulate and easy to manipulate.

  • Use a triangle shape wooden prop, to which strings are attached for manipulation.

  • costumes resemble those worn by actors of the Jatra traditional theatre.

  • music – regional music & Odissi dance’s music.

Gombeyatta, Karnataka

  • Puppets - styled and designed like the characters of Yakshagana

  • highly stylized and have joints at the legs, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.

  • manipulated by five to seven strings tied to a prop.

  • complicated movements are manipulated by two to three puppeteers at a time.

  • music - beautifully blends folk and classical elements.

Bommalattam, Tamil Nadu

  • combine the techniques of both rod and string puppets.

  • made of wood and the strings for manipulation are tied to an iron ring which the puppeteer wears like a crown on his head.

  • few puppets have jointed arms and hands, which are manipulated by rods.

  • This puppets are the largest, heaviest and the most articulate of all traditional Indian marionettes.


  • Shadow puppets are flat figures.

  • cut out of leather, which has been treated to make it translucent.

  • pressed against the screen with a strong source of light behind it.

  • manipulation between the light and the screen make silhouettes or colourful shadows

  • found in Orissa, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Togalu Gombeyatta, Karnataka

  • puppets are mostly small in size.

  • puppets however differ in size according to their social status, for instance, large size for kings and religious characters and smaller size for common people or servants.

Tholu Bommalata, Andhra Pradesh

  • puppets are large in size and have jointed waist, shoulders, elbows and knees.

  • coloured on both sides, throwing coloured shadows on the screen.

  • music - influenced by the classical regional music

  • theme are drawn from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas.

Ravanachhaya, Orissa

  • puppets are in one piece and have no joints.

  • not coloured, hence throw opaque shadows on the screen.

  • manipulation requires great dexterity, since there are no joints.

  • puppets are made of deer skin and are conceived in bold dramatic poses.

  • Apart from human and animal characters, many props such as trees, mountains, chariots, etc. are also used.

  • puppets are smaller in size

  • create very sensitive and lyrical shadows.


  • an extension of glove-puppets, but often much larger and supported and manipulated by rods from below.

  • found mostly in West Bengal and Orissa. 

Putul Nautch, West Bengal

  • carved from wood

  • costumed like the actors of Jatra, a traditional theatre

  • puppets have mostly three joints.

  • heads, supported by the main rod, is joined at the neck and both hands attached to rods are joined at the shoulders.

  • bamboo-made hub is tied firmly to the waist of the puppeteer on which the rod holding the puppet is placed.

  • puppeteers each holding one puppet, stand behind a head-high curtain and while manipulating the rods also move and dance imparting corresponding movements to the puppets.

  • puppeteers themselves sing and deliver the stylized prose dialogues & a group of musicians provide the accompanying music with a drum, harmonium and cymbals.

  • music and verbal text have close similarity with the Jatra theatre.

Orissa Rod puppets

  • mostly three joints, but the hands are tied to strings instead of rods.

  • elements of rod and string puppets are combined in this form of puppetry.

  • Most of the dialogues are sung.

  • music blends folk tunes with classical Odissi tunes.

  • puppets of Orissa are smaller than those from Bengal or Andhra Pradesh.

  • more operatic and prose dialogues are seldom used.

Yampuri, Bihar

  • made of wood.

  • puppets are in one piece and have no joints.

  • requires greater dexterity.


  • also known as sleeve, hand or palm puppets.

  • head is made of either papier mache, cloth or wood,

  • hands emerges from just below the neck.

  • rest of the figure consists of a long flowing skirt.

  • controlled by the human hand - first finger inserted in the head and middle finger and thumb are the two arms of the puppet.

  • In Orissa, the puppeteer plays on the dholak with one hand and manipulates the puppet with the other.

  • delivery of the dialogues, the movement of the puppet and the beat of the dholak are well synchronised and create a dramatic atmosphere.

Pavakoothu, Kerala

  • head and the arms are carved of wood and joined together with thick cloth, cut and stitched into a small bag.

  • face of the puppets are decorated with paints, small and thin pieces of gilded tin, the feathers of the peacock, etc.

  • manipulator puts his hand into the bag and moves the hands and head of the puppet.

  • musical instruments - Chenda, Chengiloa, Ilathalam and Shankha the conch.

  • theme - based on the episodes from either the Ramayana or the Mahabharata.


Natya Shastra, compiled by Bharat Muni, divides musical instruments into four main categories on the basis of how sound is produced.

  1. Tata Vadya / Chordophones- Stringed instruments

  2. Sushira Vadya / Aerophones- Wind instruments

  3. Avanaddha Vadya / Membranophones- Percussion instruments

  4. Ghana Vadya / Idiophones- Solid instruments


  • sound is produced by the vibration of a string or chord.

  • vibrations are caused by plucking or by bowing on the string which has been pulled taut.

  • Length of string/wire, degree to which it has been tightened, determines the pitch of the note and also to some extent the duration of the sound.

  • Two Main Types- Plucked & Bowed

  • Subdivided into the fretted and non-fretted variety.

  • oldest evidence - harps in the shape of the hunter’s bow.

  • Veena was the generic term for stringed instruments’ referred to in texts

  • Another class is of the dulcimer type, where a number of strings are stretched on a box of wood, e.g sata-tantri veena-the hundred stringed veena.

  • Santoor, a similar to sata tantric veena instrument

  • A later development are the fingerboard variety,

  • great advantage - the richness of tone production and continuity of sound.

  • increase or decrease in the length of the vibrator wire is responsible for the changes in pitches of notes-swaras.

  • Bowed instruments - the upright(Sarangi) and the inverted(Violin).

Different parts of a stringed instrument

  • Resonator(Toomba) - either made of wood or from a specially grown gourd.

  • Tabli - the plate of wood over this Toomba

  • Danda - resonator is attached to the fingerboard-the Danda, at the top end of which are inserted the pegs-the Khoontis, for tuning the instrument.

  • Bridge- On the Tabli there is a bridge made of ivory or bone.

  • Tarab - main strings pass over the bridge.

  • When these strings vibrate, they add resonance to the sound.


  • sound is produced by blowing air into an hollow column.

  • pitch of the note is determined by controlling the air passage and the melody is played by using the fingers to open and close the in the instrument.

  • The simplest of these instruments is the flute. Generally flutes are made of bamboo or wood and the Indian musician prefers these due to the tonal and musical attributes of these materials.

  • Excavations of the Indus civilizations have shown bird whistles of clay, and seals which show wind and percussion instruments.

  • There is reference in the Vedas to an instrument-the Venu which was used as an accompaniment to chanting and recitation. There is also mention of a kind of a flute called the Nadi.

  • Wind instruments are roughly divided into two categories on the basis of how sound is produced. They are:


  • double flutes are mostly played by musicians of the tribal and rural areas

  • They resemble beak flutes which have a narrow aperture at one end.

  • One finds references to these types of instruments in the sculptures of the first century in the Sanchi Stupa which shows a musician playing on a double flute.

Reed instruments

  • Reed instruments like the Shehnai, Nadaswaram, etc., have one or two reeds inserted in the hollow beak or tube of the instrument,

  • these vibrate when air is blown into them.

  • reeds are bound together with a gap between them before inserting into the body of the instrument.

  • The body of the tube is conical in shape narrow at the blowing end and opening out gradually with a metallic bell at the farther end to enhance the volume of the sound.

  • A set of spare reeds, an ivory or silver needle for adjusting and cleaning the reeds are also hung from the mouth piece of the instrument.


  • sound is produced by striking the animal skin which has been stretched across an earthern or metal pot or a wooden barrel or frame.

  • The earliest references to such instruments have been found in the Vedas where there is mention of Bhumi Dundhubhi; this was a hollow pit dug in the ground and covered with the hide of a buffalo or ox which was stretched across the pit.

  • The tail of the animal was used for striking the animal hide and thus sound was produced.

  • The main categories are-Oordhwaka, Ankya, Alingya and the waisted or the Damaru family of drums.


  • Tabla pair is a set of two vertical Oordhwaka drums.

  • right side is called the Tabla and the left, the Bayan or Dagga.

  • Tabla has a wooden body with a covering of animal skin, this is held together with leather straps.

  • Between the straps and the wooden body, oblong wooden blocks are placed for tuning the drums.

  • syahi(ink) paste applied in the centre of the animal skin, the tabla can be tuned accurately by striking the rims with a hammer.

  • body of the bayan is made of clay or metal and is covered with animal skin which also has syahi paste applied on it. Some musicians do not tune this drum to an accurate pitch.

  • tabla pair is used as accompaniment to vocal and instrumental Hindustani music and with many dance forms of northern India.

  • complicated talas of the Hindustani music are played with great virtuosity on the tabla.

  • Prominent musicians playing the tabla today are-Ustad Alla Rakha Khan and his son Zakir Hussain, Shafat Ahmed and Samata Prasad

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