Ravana Chhaya: 6000 year old Shadow Puppet Play of Odisha – Be On The Road


Shadow Puppetry of Odisha that orginated somewhere in the 5th Century BC

Did you know that shadow puppetry originated in India about the 5th century BC, about 6000 years back. Even though precise point of origin has not been identified, it has identified mention in numerous ancient literary texts, such as Mahabharata of Vyasa (5th century BC), Mahabhasya of Patanjali (4th century BC), Arthasatra of Kautilya (2nd century BC), Kamasutra of Vatsyana (7th century AD) and Uttara Rama Charita and Mahaveera Charita of Bababhuti (8th century AD) amongst numerous other people.

It is very probable that you have observed this ancient art kind in action in our Indian villages throughout a festival or other occasion. I have been privileged to see it at very a handful of areas in India throughout my college summer season holidays when we traveled to unique components of the nation. At that time, I never ever understood its heritage worth, but now that I do, I yearn and hope to see additional persons and areas attempt to retain shadow puppetry alive. For some weird explanation, the mere sight of a shadow puppet play tends to make me really feel like a youngster once more.

Ancient Shadow Puppetry Culture of Odisha

My most up-to-date tryst with shadow puppetry came throughout my culture vacation to Odisha, exactly where I got to meet the specialist artist Dr. Gouranga Charan Dash and his group and exactly where I got to immerse myself into the globe of shadow puppet plays each from the front of the stage as properly as backstage, which is way additional enjoyable in my opinion. This shadow puppet play is named ‘Ravaa Chhaya’ in Odisha. It goes by other names in unique components of India, such as ‘Tholu Bommalattam’ in Tamil Nadu, ‘Togalu Gombeeatta’ in Karnataka, ‘Tolu Bommalata’ in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, ‘Chamdya Chaya Bahulya’ in Maharashtra, ‘Tol Pavakoothu’ in Kerala and ‘Chaya Putul Nacha’ in West Bengal.

Shadow puppetry by Dr. Gouranga Charan Dash

In this shadow puppetry art kind of Odisha, colored shadows, background voice overs and music present stories from the Ramayana, in particular preferred ones such as abduction of Sita and quest for Sita. Although stories from Ramayana are the mainstay for Ravana Chhaya performances, numerous artists also present stories from Mahalaxmi Katha, Krishna Leela and even modern and contemporary stories.

Shadow puppet play of Odisha

The puppets of Ravana Chhaya are hand produced applying a single piece of untanned deer and cow hide. Either they are left in neutral colour of the hide or they are colored applying organic substances to depict garments, jewellery, accessories, and so forth. The music which is played in the background is an intriguing blend of folk, classic and contemporary with numerous conventional musical instruments such as tambourine, cymbal, daskathi, mridangam and tabla.

Leather puppets - part of the shadow puppetry heritage of Odisha

The whole Ravana Chhaya shadow puppetry efficiency is managed by a group of artists who don unique hats. Some are in charge of playing the musical instruments, although the other people are in charge of manipulating and controlling the puppets by means of the prop that is attached to its lowest component. Based on the scene, there could be 1 or additional persons holding puppets against the light. And similarly with voice overs, it could be 1 individual telling the story or it could be additional than 1. One particular of the specialties of Ravana Chhaya is the voice more than exactly where heavy emotional tones are utilised to convey the emotion of the scene to the audience.

When you are searching at the efficiency from the front, all you see is an empty white screen at the starting and a play of nonetheless and moving puppets throughout the efficiency. When you are back stage (behind the white screen), it is a unique globe altogether. A maze of puppets are strewn all more than the floor. Distinct artists are crouched under the white screen and are manipulating their puppets with their fingers to give that really feel of life like motion to the audience. One particular of them who is the leader handles all the principal characters, although the help employees deal with the puppets which portray the other components of the story, such as animals, birds, trees, and so forth. Behind these artists is the powerful light supply, which is instrumental in casting the shadow and behind them are the musicians who add beat and rhythm to the shadow puppet play.

Different props and themes in the shadow puppet play of Odisha

The sheer diversity of puppets, the gorgeous flow of feelings in the voice overs, the melodious music and the preferred stories tends to make Ravana Chhaya a riveting encounter. And the way they bring characters to life by means of shadows, their movements, voices and music is what tends to make this ancient art kind so really unique.

Shadow puppetry of Odisha

Such beautiful ancient art types are to be treasured by the whole human race. This Indian heritage can undoubtedly awaken the youngster in you and make you leave the auditorium with a significant smile on your face, a spring in your step and pure joy in your heart and soul. I would undoubtedly advocate experiencing Ravana Chhaya throughout your subsequent vacation to Odisha.

Shadow Puppetry, ancient heritage of Odisha

Exactly where to encounter it:

Srirama Institute of Shadow Theatre, Ananda Ashram, close to Kutari munda in the Angul district of Odisha. Ask for Dr. Gouranga  Charan Dash, Sri Prahlad Behera or Dr. Sabitri Dash.

How to get there:

Bhubaneshwar is the nearest airport. From Bhubaneshwar to the ashram is about a four hour road trip. The nearest railway station is Talcher, about 40 kms from the ashram.

Water Puppet Show

If you appreciate puppet shows, you may possibly want to verify out the water puppet show of Vietnam, which I really feel is 1 of the 7 will have to have experiences in Vietnam.


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