Today’s changing lifestyle has tragically lost sight for our old traditional pastimes and are unfortunately dying for patronage. The new age mass media has made us cyber addictive freaks who can’t keep their fingers off the screen keypads. Due to this, these traditional art forms are at the cross roads in many states.
Puppetry, being one of these art forms, is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment. It came to India in 3rd Century A.D. It was honed into a theatrical art and helped to propagate the works of saints, religious leaders and depict stories.
Besides entertainment, puppetry serves as an applied art that conveys meaningful messages. It is one of those art forms which are least restricted in terms of colour, design, shape and movement. Puppetry is a real challenge to one’s imagination and the creative ability. Despite this, what was once a ONE-MAN show became a family occupation, involving several members of the family or small companies of men. Puppetry have tremendously contributed in the field of education, entertainment and generating awareness. It is a form of communication that works towards spreading messages to the masses and target audience. There are various different types of puppetry forms that exist but difference lies not only in the name. They are different in form, structure, manipulation and presentation techniques.
Glove, Rod, Shadow and String are the four different types of puppets prevailed in Indian Puppetry Culture. The Glove Puppets are the hand puppets and are worn as a glove and fits the index finger while rod puppets are often larger and are supported by rods of various types and sizes. Shadow puppet is another part of this traditional art and is operated against the rear of a tightly stretched white cloth screen. String puppets are the most frequently found puppets and are made of wood, wires, clothes and cotton.
Puppets own a huge vocabulary of different names. The basic four types of puppets and their puppetry are prevailed in many parts of the country with different names, each adding their bit of spice of changes in them. The shadow puppetry is locally called Tholu Bommalata in Andhra while the string form is called Koyyabommalata. The string puppets own a different name in the state of Assam, called Putal-nach. In this, human figure puppets have moveable joints for manipulation. In Karnataka, the string puppets are called Gombe-atta or togalu Gombe-atta. These puppets are similar to the puppets of Andhra Pradesh and have a blend of dramatic music of folk and classic style as well. Traditional puppetry in Kerala is Pava-Kuthu which is a form of glove puppets and Thol pavakuthu which is a form of leather puppetry. These puppets are very colourful and bear the heavy make-ups and costumes, unlike, Kathakali actors. In Maharashtra, Kalasutri Bahulya and Chamadyache Bahulya are the string and shadow forms of puppet respectively. There are three forms of puppetry prevalent in Orissa; glove with the name of Kundhei-nach, shadow by the name of Ravanachaya, Kathi Kundhei and Gopalila Kandhei, names of rod and string puppetry respectively.
The colourful string puppets of Rajasthan are called Kathputli while it is called Putul Nach in Bengal. The theme for the puppets plays are drawn from the epics and puranic literature and a number of characters which are drawn in each play.
Puppetry is not just a good communication medium but also, puppet making and performing is a good occupational therapy for physically disabled people. The early puppet shows in India dealt mostly with histories of great kings, princes and heroes in rural areas. This visually impactful art form is a rewarding hobby and builds up good observation and the ability to replicate things.
The early puppet shows in India dealt mostly with histories of great kings, princes and heroes and also political satire in rural areas. Religious portrayals in puppetry developed in South India with shadow puppet performances of stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Even today, especially in Kerala, shadow puppet is a temple ritual performed every year during a temple festival for a specified duration. 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 the outside world performing on various social and contemporary themes in Indian towns and cities.
Rural advertising is another possibility. Promotion skits can be staged to inform the public about new products available.
However, the best use of this art is as a hobby. Building and presenting puppet shows can provide delightful hours of fun to young and old alike. Let’s not let puppetry die.
[author image=”http://www.aapkatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Sonakshi.jpg” ]I am Sonakshi Khurana student at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies pursuing Bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication. With a keen interest in social issues, I wish to serve my country for its better and prosperous future [/author]