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THEATRE IN INDIA

TYPES OF RITUAL THEATRE

Ankia Nat: The Krishna drama that originated in the wake of neo-Vaishnavite movement in the 16th century in Assam is known as Ankia Nat. The operatic one-act play depicting the Krishna legend in all its splendour is structurally a beautiful synthesis of classical and folk traditions of the region. It was developed by the renowned Vaishnavite saint of Assam Srimanta Sankardeva in the 15th century and was aimed at the illiterate masses of Assam and the tribal population of Bengal and Bihar. The performance called Bhaona starts with benediction in Sanskrit followed by eulogy to God in Brajabuli. It is performed in four different sequences: playing of the Dhamali, benediction, introduction and presentation of the story or Nat and moral instructions or Mukti-Mangal Bhatima. The play usually starts with playing of the drum accompanied by the big cymbal and the Khuli Tal (small cymbal) by the singer-musician (Gayan Bayan) in a group. The instruments are played in various movements in two paces called Saru Dhemali and Bar Dhemali. Masks are important ingredients of Bhaona. These are made of paper, bamboo and textile and are designed to give special facial expressions to the various characters.

Among the well-known playwrights of Ankia Nat, mention may be made of Srimanta Sankardeva, Madhav Deva, Sri Gopal Ata, Ram Charan Thakur, Diatri Thakur and Dvija Bhusan. The popular plays of Srimanta Sankardeva are Cinna Yatra, Kalia Daman, Patni Prasad, Keli-gopal, Rukmini Haran, Parijat Haran and Sri Ram Vijya. Madhav Deva's famous plays are Arjune Bhanjana, Ras Jhumura and Chor Dhara while those of Sri Gopal Ata are Janma Yatra and Gopi-Udhav Samvad.

 
Bhuta : Bhuta (Bhoota or Kola) means spirit, the supernatural being which manifests itself in benevolent or malevolent forms. The cult of Bhutas has evolved itself from the primitive ancestor-worship of deified animals and of natural forces. In India, the Bhuta worship has been practised since time immemorial. It is now commonly found in the South Kannara district of Karnataka. It can be considered as a counterpart of the Teyyam of north Kerala.
 
Kala:  The word Kala has a special significance in the context of Krishna myth. In the early folk theatre form, Kala, laid the dormant seeds of later Krishna theatre, which branched out in the form of Dashavatar Kala, Gopal Kala and Gaulan Kala.
 
Ram Leela: Ram Leela, or the life history of Rama, is performed during festivals like Dussehra. The whole of Ramayana is enacted by means of dialogues, songs and folk dances. This is an all-male performance in which even the role of Sita is enacted by a boy. The Ram Leela is presented in different ways in different parts of the country. Ram Leela is very popular in Mysore.
 
Ras Leela : The Ras Leela is a dance performed by playful Krishna with young and beautiful Gopa girls on the bank of river Yamuna on one full-moon night. This drama evolved around the 15th-16th century and the themes are centered on Lord Krishna.



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