Tradition of Kathputli

Tradition of Kathputli

Tradition of Kathputli

India is a country that has a long heritage of theater and local arts. Tamasha Nautanki and Kathputli show have been an integral part of local Indian theater. Nautanki and Tamashas have been very popular among the rural folks of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, whereas the Kathputli show and dancers have been the popular form of theater in Rajasthan. Kathputli is a string-managed puppet theater. The Kathputli (कठपुतली) is an amalgam of two words-Kath means wood and Putali signifies doll. Thus Kathputli meaning in English is the wooden doll or Puppets. Puppet making has been very popular in Rajasthan.

History of Puppet Show

We can trace back the history of Kathputalis in the folk songs ballads of Rajasthan and Bengal. The tribes of Rajasthan and the villagers have been seeking enjoyment from these puppet shows during important festivals, social gatherings since thousands of years back. During your Rajasthan tour package if you visit the local villages or even at the restaurants you can enjoy a live puppet show. Most of the art scholars believed that this tradition of Kathputali was initiated by the bhat (bard) community to entertain the nobles and the common folk nearly 1500 years ago in the state of Rajasthan in the areas of Nagor.

The tradition of Kathputli thrived such under the patronage of kings, nobles and the tradesmen community. These affluent people used to rewards the puppet players for their praise of ancestors when these Bhats used to present short story drama through the mouthpiece of the puppets. Presently this art is one of the most popular art in Rajasthan. Puppets of Rajasthan are string puppets and very colorful. This is the most effective art of telling stories or addressing to the spectators on the burning issues.

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Kathputli image

How the Kathputli show is performed?

Kathputli is a dancing doll which is dressed up in bright colorful attires. They are tied to the strings and the puppeteers use the strings to move them sitting or standing right behind the curtains. These puppet players set up a mini stage with the help of laying down a cot. The puppet show performer tacks his puppets with the help of a thread to the upper part of the cot, place a sheet of cloth or dhoti as a backdrop. Right behind this backdrop, he concedes himself to operate the puppets with his fingers. All the performance is done with the accompaniments of the beat of Dholak (a drum-like musical instrument). In the meantime, the puppeteers do hooting whistling.

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King of Ujjain Vikramaditya Fond of puppets

The legends say that the Parmar dynasty ruler Vikramaditya was much fond of puppets. His fondness for the same can be imagined by the fact that his throne was chiseled out with 32 figurines of Kathputalis. These thirty-two figures depicted the major life and achievement of the ruler.

Themes of Puppet show

The Kathputali shows have always been evolving with the new themes. Earlier they were limiting themselves to the praise of the royal ancestors when the master used to seek the praise of pleasure from the stories of his ancestors. They adopted many social issues as the theme of the story like dowry issues, the stifle between Nanad and Bhabhi, Saas and Bahu, etc. Another popular theme of the Kathputali dance show is the tale of Amar Singh Rathore.

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Gulabo Sitabo theme of Kathputali Dance

The story of Gulabo Sitabo was born in the small hamlet of Uttar Pradesh known as Narsinghpur which falls in Pratapgarh district. These were the tales of the tussle of Nanad and Bhabhi. Rajasthan Kathputali Character In the Rajasthani Kathputali shows the themes of king and queen, Seth – Sethane Zamindar and peasant find prominence.

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Modern Themes

In modern times, the Kathputali performers are touching various social and environmental issues through their platforms. They are addressing issues like female infanticide, illiteracy, the importance of cleanness, etc. there are several families in Rajasthan whose main source of livelihood is Kathputali, making and performing the show. you will be amazed to know that in Jaipur there is a street called Kathputali.

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The Revival of the dying Art

The Kathputali stage performance art which reached its zenith in the medieval times was struggling for life since a couple of decades back on account of the lack of craze among the youth. The growing internet access and the mobile phone reach gave a big jolt to the theater performances.

Since a few years, back an account of Promotion by the N.G.O’s and the government this art form is having a great renaissance. Presently the Kathputali live shows are in vogue on the television and films also. It is a matter of satisfaction that now the youth is choosing it as a career. The world Kathputali Day is going to be celebrated on 21 March and is going to popularize the Kathputali culture across the world.

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Dr Atul Kumar Singh Parmar

Dr Atul is a graduate of R.B.S College Agra after the graduation did his Masters in Arts (English) Later pursued Bachelor of Education and Doctorate in English fro Agra University Agra. He has been been engaged in the tourism trade since 1995 , Worked as Govt Of India approved tour escort till 2011, He is promoter of S.A.M Tours and Travels. He is an avid traveler and travel writer with expertise in tours and travels, history, literature, architecture, social and political.

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