D.R. Purohit, National Fellow
The folk theatre of the Central Himalaya spread across the mountain regions of the Uttarakhand state is located in certain performative and cultural contexts. The cultural context is formed by the layers of races which came over and settled in the state. The oldest settlers are believed to be Vidyadhars, Gandharvas, Tangans, Partangans, Kols and Kirats followed by the khasas, and lastly the mainland settlers (Shiv Prasad Dabral , Uttarakhand ka Itihas Vol II(1970-95). Thus the culture bears the traces of multiple racial imaginaire , in return affecting the performative forms including the theatre . The aboriginal performative structures have however been so powerful that all the migrating forms had to assimilate themselves into the patterns and procedures of the former traditions . The dance, song and theatrical idioms adopted by all the successive folk theatre forms even the latest entrant Ramlila bear an evidence to the continuity of the indigenous genres .
The present project aims at analyzing the folk theatre forms, first by briefly locating them on the frame of the other folk theatre forms of the world and then evaluating them on the tenets and continuum of rasaanubhuti and possession . A comparative analysis of the mythos and ethos of Himachali folk theatre forms will also be incorporated .Then, it also attempts to survey and asses the experiments on these theatre forms ; lastly and endeavors to suggest a comprehensive plan
for the sustainability of the forms in situ and on the modern stage as a representational heritage .
The following theatre forms have been selected for study:
1. The theatre of Mahabharata with its 90 episodic plays
2. The theatre of Ramkatha: Jakh, Sitalodi , Ramman and Ramlila
3. The processional theatres of some 500 travelling deities , chiefly the theatre of Nandadevi
4. The ritual theatre of Bagdwaal, Sahaja Devi, Golju,Vishwakarma, Karna , Someshwar etc.
5. The attendant mask theatre of the processions of Jakh, Dwari, Chandika, Kans and Nain Devi
6. The mask theatres of Nanda and Nrisimha
7. Theatres of the bards: Swaang, Hurkiya bol,Radhakhandi Raas
8. Swaangs of Holi and Rateli
9. Khels of the Baisakhi festival
10. Karyala, Banthada,Bora, Haran, Bhagat, Dhajja, Horringfo folk theatres of Himachal Pradesh
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