Watching Kathputli performances was the 'Netflix and chill' for kings of yore!
One of the most popular sources of entertainment across the state of Rajasthan, is its native theatre art- Kathputli, which is understood as puppet theatre. They form a major aspect of Jaipur tourism because interestingly, it is one of the major centres where the kathputlis or stringed puppets are manufactured. Tourists from all over the world enjoy this cultural aspect of Rajasthan and while watching a Kathputli show is difficult during this pandemic, we are sharing some details about it that will indulge your penchants for the time being!
Themes of puppet shows trace their origin to historical tales & local traditions
Kathputli is an ancient and folk theatre art performed with string puppets made of wood that dance to the beats of dholak. The puppets used are usually two feet high with a wooden head, marked by a huge nose and large eyes and the rest of the body is prepared with stuffed cloth pieces which allow free movement. A few characters such as court dancer, horse rider and snake charmer make up the essential cast of such plays.
The themes around which puppet shows are staged, usually trace their origin to historical tales and local traditions of Rajasthan. The nomadic Bhatt community has been staging Kathputli shows since time immemorial, under the patronage of Kings. Even today, they travel across the country to showcase their talent, generally during the evening hours and are referred to as kathputliwalas by many.
During the pre-pandemic era, Kathputli performances could be enjoyed outside Jaipur's City Palace, Chokhi Dhani and other places as dinner time entertainment. Further, private shows could also be arranged for small-scale functions. Let's hope that this pandemic becomes a thing of the past soon so that we can once again enjoy the art of traditional theatre!