Ideas & Experiments in Theatre.
Production Designing in Orissa : My
in the 'Form' of Theatrical Presentations
A "Theatre" physically comprises of two
sections : the Stage, upon which the performance take place and the
Auditorium, from where the spectators witness the performances.
Ever since the first amongst the primitive pre-historic human species stepped
on to a log or rock, to make himself conspicuous among his fellow-men, the
necessity of a platform-something raised above the level of the ground was
felt essential for conveying some thing in general to a gathering. Thus the
Theatre was evolved.
In the process of evolution, through out the ages, the yueer mind of Man has
been hunting for ideas, to find out suitable Form for his theatre. How best a
performance can be staged. Men of the world thus, must have created millions
of styles in stage designing, though all of these would clearly fall only
into four distinct categories. They are as follows :-
Acting area in the centre with spectators around.
2. Acting area with spectators on three sides.
3. Acting area with spectators on two sides.
4. Acting area with spectatros on one side only.
A raised stage may not be necessary only when the
spectators witness from a slope or gallery, but a sloped auditorium is
essential to make the spectators in the back rows be able to see-what's going
on in the acting area. This too is not an absolute necessity if the stage is
How much 'up' can a stage be raised ?
Similarly how far 'back' the last row of seats be located even with use of
opera- glasses ?
There should be a limit to every thing, because we don't make our spectators
to sprain their necks by making them crane to look to sides to look high-up
or down, or to get confused as to where to look and when. Just as the
"sightlines" are very important, so is the "treatment" in
The element of SPECTACLE is therefore considered to be most importan in a
theatrical presentation. While planning a spectacle for the viewers, a lot of
things are required to be taken into consideration, such as the occasion
place of performance, topography, type of work to be displayed the style to
be presented, number of artists to participate and to appear on the stage at
a time, number of spectators to witness and many other things, besides a lot
of common sense aesthetics and above all the budget.
In a conventional theatre with proscenium and curtain, therefore the scenic
background, wheather with painted draperies or set flats, had become the rule
of the day for some time in the past. when lighting technique developed, the
socalled scenic backgrounds went to the background and the magical projection
of scenes or incidents predominated. In a conventional old-fashioned theatre,
your auditorium is fixed, so also your stage area, height width etc.
Manipulations over the teaser, tormentors which gave a little more additional
area no doubt have their limitions; so the designers' imagination also have a
limited contour, in side a built-in theatre.
open-air production, you have therefore a little freedom to break away from
prejudices, conventions, to give vent to your thoughts and to give a shape to
your imagination, even it has run a riot.
But there is always a risk. Just as your listner must know the language you
speak, your spectators should also understand the method of your treatment.
If you confuse the spectators by some gaudy, unbalanced monkey tricks, your
efforts fail. Designing a production therefore, demands an understanding of
the whole thing minutely, carefully, artistically and aesthetically. To put
up something just for its novelty has absolutely no meaning unless it serves
the real purpose. It only turns a gimmick. It should be a novelty by all
means, besides being beautiful, but should also have meaningful and justified
matching grandeur with a distinct purpose. As for example, my production
design for the modern play "Duiti Surya-Dagdha Phulaku Nei", which
was presented by Uttara Purusha, was conceived after studying the style of
the play, its requirements and the budget; hence it matched the production
Pesides numerous set-designs which I have done very successfully in Orissa, I
have experimented convinced that a work done sincerely with understanding is
always appreciated by the people.
I have presented a play "Chandrachori" for Kumbhakar just on the
apron of Rabindra Mandap without even opening the front curtain with a
character on or around the stage throughout the duration in full view of the
spectators in 1968. The idea was to impress that if artists are fully
conversed with their roles, then a play can be presented even without any
other arrangement, such as, scenes etc, which are not primary importance.
I have produced a conventional stage play "Chakri" means for
one-sided auditorium, on an improvised Jatra stage having spectators all
around in the Social Welfare Centre, Bhubaneswar in the year 1970.
In absence of a permanent Jatra auditorium, I have produced Gitinatya
"Kartavirya Samhara" on the central Floors of the auditorium of
Kala Mandap and Institute of Engineers in 1968 with spectators around and on
the existing stages.
I have produced a Gitinatya, "Karnabadha" by Baishnaba Pani in many
different ways, such as :
'Karnabadha' on a Central Stage with spectators around,
(2) 'Karnabadha' in a conventional theatre with spectators on one side with
(3) 'Karnabadha' on a stage with spectators on three sides.
(4) 'Karnabadha' on a panoramic multitiered stage 80' wide.
(5) 'Karnabadha' on a wide angled, single zone levelled yet curved stage 60'
(6) 'Karnabadha' in a huge Virata Prekshya with an acting area of 500'*200',
with real horse-drawn chariots, elephants, fireworks, monks-battle scenes and
torch light pageantry sequences etc.
I have established the discovery of a regular ancient Indian theatre at the
Ranigumpha caves, Udayagiri hills, Bhubaneswar (which happens to be the
oldest and the only existing specimen in the world of the classical Indian
theatre of the middle rectangular variety meant for the kings) having exact
specifications and dimensions as detailed in the Natyasastra of Bharatmuni. I
have also given a performance in this Ranigumpha theatre (through Orissa
Sangeet Natak Akademi) demonstrating as to how a double storeyed theatre was
used for productions of classical plays in ancient India.
In the followings pages I have described-few amongst my humble production
designs based on my experiments in the Forms of theatre. In most of the
casesf hey have become trend-setters in the country. These are all my
original conceptions. I have always been inspired from the study of the forms
and the heritage of Orissan theatre.
HIMALAYA ( 1963 )
sky, three-tiered, panoramic stage with an opening of 80 feet. There were
three stages, one above the other connected with steps and aesthetically
balanced. Auditorium to hold over 10,000 spectators. Raised stage 3, was
placed at Up Left to equalize value with that of the Down Right zone. No
front curtain was used.
This stage arrangement was designed and executed a† t the Collegiate school compound in 1963
for the Kumar Utsaba Samiti for the annual Kumar Poornima. With the real full
moon in the sky, this style was adopted to stop the hitherto indoor
celebration of Kumar Poornima with a paper-moon hanging against a back drop
in side a closed theatre.
The composite programme included signature dance, children's play, a drama,
Odissi dance and a dance drama "Himalaya". This was the first time
in India that an experiment was done for a panoramic stage in such a grand
ANANTA NAGESWAR (1963)
after the fragrant, beautiful flower Ananta Nageswar, favourite of Nataraja
Lord Shiva, this was first executed at the A.I.R. premises, Cuttack for
presenting a Jatra of Orissa. The Puspapatha through which the artists enter
or exit in the midst of spectators from the Beshaghara (Green Room) to the
central stage, is raised in the same level of the stage, thereby facilitating
easy movement and adding a distinction hitherto neglected. The chorus and the
musicians were given a high platform over the entry, exit passage of the
green room. There was a small base platform near the entry or exit of the
greenroom where artists may wait for their roles to come, if necessary. This
high platform system was not adopted just as a novelty but was evolved from
the age-old tradition of Orissa, of providing a Mancha for the musicians
during festivities and performances.
This was designed as a prototype model for Jatra halls of permanent or
semi-permanent nature, the necessity of which is so acutely felt in our
state, because almost all the various types of Orissa's dramatic arts need an
acting area in the centre with spectators around it.
The detailed architectural
design had been presented by me to the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi for three types
of such theatre halls i.e. open sky, flat terraced and dome-shaped roof, for
submission to Government.
The seating arrangement around the state with clear passage for movement
of† spectators, was designed after the
petals of the flower.
MANCHA AMRAPALI (1964)
multi-tiered, panoramic stage was designed and executed for Kumar Ustsav
Samiti, Cuttack, after the unsurpassed success in 1963. The design although
followed the pattern of Mancha Himalaya, had several stylised variations.
The composite programme included Baishnaba Pani's verse drama
"Karnabadha" and the dance drama "Amarapali". The dance
drama "Amrapali" with sixty dancers,† included†
top-notchers like Sanjukta Panigrahi and Kumkum Das together. There
were spectacular sequences in the dance drama having thirty-five dancers
dancing at different levels at a time.
It is on this occasion of Kumar Utsava celebration of 1964 that ignited the
spark and heralded the dawn of resurrection and revival of the memory of late
Ganakavi Baisnaba Pani and the traditional Jatra of Orissa by presenting his
"Karnabadha" with a cast of artists, singers and musicians, the
names of which will be an envy for all times.
This was a three-tiered stage improved at the
Janata Rangamancha, Cuttack in 1964 for the annual function of Mousumi
cultural group. The tiers denoted Swarga (Heaven), Martya (Earth) †and
Patala (Hades) through the prescenium frame for a dance drama.
MANCHA (1964, 1965)
Unmukta Mancha was designed with no wings, no curtains, no back drop, in
order to break the convention that these are actually not the absolute
necessities for any performance. This was designed for Collegiate School,
Cuttack for their annual function but has since been followed everywhere
which saves a lot of botherations.
design was suggested for the Kalashri Theatre, Cuttack for their long and
very narrow strip of available land. The auditorium would have been on both
opposite sides of the stage which would have enabled to conduct functions of
varied nature with a special feature. The green room was designed to be
located underground under the stage.
Although this design was not executed, the idea of having the greenroom
underground to save space has since been adopted by Kala Vikash Kendra,
Open-sky, wide angled stage designed and executed
for the Y.M.C.A carnival at Cuttack in 1964.
The angle ACB was widened by removing the proscenium poles at A & B and
shifting the tormentors to D and E. This arrangement avoided the waste of
available space located at the sides of the field. The sight lines were
extended and the auditorium which otherwise would have been limited within the
extended and the auditorium which otherwise would have been limited within
the extended line FA and GB, accommodated much more number of seats, all
within the sight lines.
The same method was adopted to rectify the design of the stage for Eastern
zonal cultural convention in 1976.
PREKSHYA (since 1966)
multi-levelled, panoramic, all-open, giant amphi-theatre, improvised out of a
neglected huge, open field at the fort Barabati, Cuttack for Sanskruti Vihar,
to celebrate the annual national festival Kartika Utsava (Bali Jatra).
While the entire field of 500 feet by 200 feet including a high embankment
road and trees, formed the acting area located on the inner side of the Gada
Khai (for channel), the other side which is about six feet higher formed the
space for spectators. The entire field is lighted by a chain of floodlights,
spot lights and apron lights. No poles are fixed anywhere in the field and
the cables for light and mike are carried underground there-by not distorting
the spectacle in any manner.
While two raised wooden platforms are placed in the field, close to the water
channel and 100 feet apart from each other for the speaking characters, the
entire field all around turns into the acting area for running, fighting,
pageantry and corresponding flash-back sequences.
Real horse-drawn chariots, elephants, fire works, mock battle scenes, are
used in the play. A spectacular sequence of torch light pageantry is
introduced at the climax in the shape of a giant size boat, the symbol for
Kartik Utsav in Orissa.
The water channel of fort Barabati which serves as a natural barrier between
the spectators and the acting area, not only highlights the production by a
total reflection of the entire show but also helps in acaustics.
Besides many other highlights, it was here that the biggest ever freeze
sequence consisting over 50 artists, lasting for about an hour, was
introduced in 1966 (repeated in 1968) during the play Virata Godhana Harana
by Baisnaba Pani. Usually Baisnaba Pani's verse-dramas are regularly
presented here every year for a record crowd of spectators over 35,000 at a
time each time.
This spectacular giant production is unique and has no parallel in the drama
Except in the 1975, where no play could be presented because some trees had
been planted within this field the production is repeated every year on the
full-moon day of Kartik.
air grove theatre (Vistavision).
This is nothing but just a long platform with two corners raised in the
middle of spectators within a mango grove. This was specially designed for
Sanskruti Vihar, Cuttack during the Raja Utsava (Festival of Swings) in 1967.
No poles were used and the lighting was done overhead through the branches of
the trees. This design was executed to stop the indoor methods of celebrating
Raja Utsava in a closed auditorium with a symbolic swing hung from the grid
in the middle of the stage.
There was no green room. True to the traditional convention of Saja Baja
during the Raja Utsava, all the artists were asked to come with make up and
costume from their homes and take their places anywhere in the auditorium
until their roles come. The programme was conducted by a master of ceremony
who sat with a microphone 30 feet away from the central stage along with the
spectators. The play was Tarunyara Bidroha by Shri Manamohan Mishra depicting
the youth unrest in an unique manner.
The topography of this site has since been changed with few trees uprooted by
cyclone and with the construction of a shed and an auditorium over half of
the area by another cultural institution.
design was made to avoid the existing bad sight-lines of Rabindra Mandapa,
Bhubaneswar, and to accomodate more seats. Each seat was good because
everything was visible to every spectator without nodding the neck.
The apron of Rabindra Mandap was extended into the auditorium with an
additional improvised wooden structure. The entire play 'ANDHAJUGA' by Dr.
Mahatab was enacted in front of the front curtain which was used as the back
drop. The existing two side opening were used for entry and exit of
characters. Some characters came from the main gate the through the
This was produced by Bhubaneswar Kala Kendra in 1967.
11. LAGNA (1969)
was designed as a panoramic, single-zone production for the play 'LAGNA'
produced by the students of Agriculture University, Bhubaneswar in 1969.
An existing curved high verandah of 60 feet long projecting into the field
was improvised to form the acting area of the play in its totality, to form a
sitting room-cum-verandah of a bungalow. The entire space was used as a
single zone for lighting as well as acting. Now this place has been converted
into an open-air theatre.
Through Sanskruti Vihar, Cuttack presented a
verse-drama of Baisnab Pani every year at the improvised Virata Prekshya
within the Barabati fort grounds since 1966, in the year 1970 a verse drama
"BALI JATRA" was presented during the Bali Jatra, specially written
keeping simultaneous acting in three stages in view.
Keeping to the inimitable style of Virata Prekshya, the design for Bali Jatra
had three raised wooden platforms instead of the usual two, each 50 feet
apart from the other.
All other spectacular highlights including the boat-shaped torch light
pageantry was also introduced in the play Bali Jatra written by the author.
* Article with† blocks :
Courtesy-Kala Vikash Kendra Cuttack, (Silver Jublie Journal, 1977)
The word Jatra in Oriya, corresponds to the
Sanskrit word Yatra. It happens to be the
equivalent term for the English word Theatre. It is very interesting to note
that these words and the corresponding words in other languages of the world
have a close phonetical affinity in their pronounciations also thereby
proving to have a common origin. The Oriya word Jatra has come from Prakrut. According to Sanskrit
grammar, Prakrut words starting with the alphabet 'Ja' are
required to be pronounced as 'Ya'("Adye
Ja, Yah" etc). The
word Jatra or Yatra has several meanings according to the lexicon
such as Journey, Festival† and Theatre
etc. Since this word in Sanskrit is pronounced as Yatra, there has been some difference of openion as
regards the origin of this word. Some attribute that the word Yatra has come
from the root 'Ya' meaning journey. Some
attribute it to have come from religious festivals but considering the
Prakrut word Jatra with its root as 'Ja', we have a direct meaning of a story born such as
in Jata and Jataka. From history we know that Bouddha Jatakas were very much popular for spreading Buddhism
after the incarnation of Buddha, five centuries before Christ.
Just† as Theatre happens to be the
sphere of reproduction of enactment of histrionic arts, so as the indigenous Jatra. A written play or the style of writting a play
is not Jatra but it turns a Jatra when it is reproduced of enacted in an
indigenous manner. Even in many religious festivals known as Jatra we see reproductions of a type of drama. In Ratha Jatra Sitala Sasthi Jatra and such others, we see a
regular theme enacted.
The wold Jatra never indicates whether it is
urban or rural. However, after introduction of the English word Theatre in
this country along with the style of presentation of plays in the western
models after the entry of Britishers in this country the indigenous word Jatra has slowly been associated with the production
of plays in rural areas.
Orissa† happens to be the only state whose history
starts with the geunine documentary records of histrionic arts such as
dances, combats, music, orchestra, festivals and plays. This is evident from
the rock-edicts of Chedi Raja Maha Meghavahana
Kalingadhipati Aira Shri Kharabela, two centuries before Christ, which is still
intact and preserved on the Hati Gumpha caves of Udayagiri, Bhubaneswar.
Emperor Kharabela, who himself was also an exponent of all Gandharva Vidys (the histrionic arts) had constructed special
Theatre halls within his kingdom for the entertainment of his subjects. His
inscription, in its 13th line mentions the word "Catara" (sometimes read as "Jathara") which he had built throughout his kingdom for
That the double-stoeyed Ranigumpha of Udayagiri hill of Bhubaneswar is a
regular classical Indian theatre of the middle rectangular variety and had
been built strictly in accordance with the prescribed dimensions and conditions
of the Natya Sastra of Bharatamuni, has now been established.
That the entire Khandagiri-Udayagiri hills area was a Jatra-samjukta
(Theatre-complex), consisting of various types and sizes of theatres, located
at defferent levels, has also been contemplated.
(Book......"Jatra, the Theatre" by the author may please be
Orissa,† thus has a great and very
ancient tradition of theatre and theatrical presentations. Like theatre halls
of today, there used to be Jatra halls of permanent nature which
were both hypaethral as well as roofed ones, located at temples, palaces and
Through the passage of time, this State had come under the influence of alien
rules for long long years and under the impact of the inflow, many forms of Jatras must have been abandoned and forgotten, many
must have been altered to suit prevailing conditions best but the wide and
varied colourful forms of Jatras which have still lived and
remained from the pangs of total extinction gives us now a glimpse of the
glory that was ancient Orissa.
long foreign domination, low economic conditions of the people, inflow of
outside influences, hatred of the so-called sophisticated, lack of proper
patronisation and the tropical climate, all combinedly helped this indigenous
Jatra not to prosper in a very
legitimate way and because of this, Jatra of Orissa has invariably
turned to be in the Open-Air and the Jatrawalas always await until air
weather. In absence of permanent pendals for regular performances, these Jatra groups of Orissa today have become peripatetic
and keep on moving from place to place to accommodate themselves for
productions in all sorts of assorted available conditions. But as every dark
cloud has also got it's silver lining, these conditions have also helped the Jatra of Orissa because at certain places, it has been
able to reach fantastic dimensions in the Open-Air presentations which
otherwise would not have been possible or thought of at all.
Music and dance have always been parts of the dramatics, as well as, Part of
the life of the people and be it what it may, it is always the common people
who have consistently remained the real repositories of a nation's culture,
otherwise there would have been nothing to recall during the times of
The people themselves form into groups and individual groups specialise in
their reportoire according to their merits, resources and choice.
All items of Orissa's traditional histrionic presentations are completely
musical having dancing and acting as prominent features in them.
There are items which are performed solo like the Bohurupi, Ghata-patua, Mundapota Kela, Janughanta, Kalisi,
Jogi, Ghuduki, Dhankoila, Galpa-Sagara, Kathaka, Harikatha, etc.,
There are items which are enacted in duets like Ghata Kalasi, Dhoba Nacha, Sabara Sabaruni, Kela Keluni,
There are items which need four to eight persons such as Gotipua, Sakhinata, Ghudukinata, Dhumpa Geeta, Nachuni
Nacha, Mahari Nacha, Naga Nacha, Patua Jatra, Apsara Nrutya, Chaiti Ghoda,
such others, Dhankoila Jatra, Humo, Dalkhai,
Rasarkeli, Jamudali, Gunjikuta, Maylajada, Banki-Jhulki, Sainladi, Baunsarani
finally there are other Jatra items which need a team of
twenty to sixty persons in their productions. They are the Leela, Suanga (Gitinatya, Gitabhinaya), Dandanata,
Bandinata, Nataka (Prahalad, Rama, Harischandra) Paika Nata, Laudi Nata,
Chhau Nata, Ghoomra Nata, Ranapa Nata, Karama Nata, Sanchara, Sabda-swa a
Nata, Rasa, Kirtana, Samrada, Melana etc.
The most common Jatra:
The contents of the most commonly known Jatra of Orissa, with enactment of a wholesome play
with full cast comprising all elements such as music, singing, acting, dancing
and the usual conflict is fondly known in various sunonyms such as Jatra,
Samaja, Lila, Nata, Nacha, Tamasha, Suanga and Jatra.
While 'Jatra' is a derivative of either Jataka (story) or Jatra (Theatre), Samaja stands for a play. Though Leela denotes playing the deeds of characters, in the
sphere of Jatra of Orissa, it only conveys the deeds of either God, Incarnations or
Great Souls. Leela never conveys the deeds of demons or evil characters.
Nata is a derivative term of Natya conveying dance, music and dramatics
and the Nacha though straight means dance conveys a form where dance is prominent.
Tamasha is a word for play came to be used in Orissa under the influence of
Marathas and Muslims.
In north Orissa a typical form of theatre had developed after the Moghuls
known as Moghul Tamasha While the pattern remained as that of the then prevailing play
productions, both Oriya and Urdu languages were used in its dialogues and
songs. Patronised by the Nawabs and performed near a Hindu Temple, attempts had
been made for a peaceful co-existence between the Hindus and Muslims in this Moghul
Tamasha. Latter on, it turned to
be a satire against Moghuls. The characters used to give self-introductions,
sing and dance as adopted by the olden Suangas.
The word 'Suanga' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Swanga', having its meaning as graceful acting. In Orissa
full fledged verse dramas (Giti Natyas) or song-dramas (Gitabhinayas) or Dance-dramas (Nrutya
Natikas) are known as Suangas.
Orissa's Jatra has a great tradition of this type of plays. It is said that the
great sage Shankara Deva of Assam who invented the Ankia
Nata for Assam had studied the
methods of mass communication through song-dramas while at Puri, Orissa,
during the last part of 15 th Century. The great writer-sage late Balaram
Dasa of Orissa wrote and staged a powerful play "Laxmipurana
Suanga" in 15th Century, the
impact of this play on the spectators was so great that certain customs
prescribed by the play such as worshiping Goddess Laxmi paricularly on the
Thursdays in the month of Margasira every year has become part of the traditional
life in every Oriya house-hold to day.
While in olden times, each character used to give a self-introduction and
sometimes the dialogues were improvised on the spot by the characters, these
are no more adhered to. In the process of evolution, stykes of writing has
undergone changes and the themes of Jatra plays are no more confined to only mythological,
historical or fantasy nut also include themes to suit the modern environments
and conditions. While there were Jatra plays written only with songs, there have been
attempts to write Jatra plays with no songs at all. But wheather it is with songs or
without, loud orchestral music has remained to be a must with the Jatra of
Orissa not only at the beginning or the end but also in every sequence
indicating the change of scene. There used to be an inevitable character "Dwari" (The Door-man) which was providing humour
throughout the olden Jatra plays like that of Bidusaka in the Sanskrit plays which has now been dropped
from the cast, in the modern Jatra plays.
Jatra plays of Orissa have followed the pattern close to that of the
Sanskrit plays with invocatory songs, dances, Sutradhar for introductions fairy dances or humorous
inter-ludes for relief sequences and the chorus boys. Spectator's
participation is an every-day affair in the Jatra of Orissa.
Inspite of heavy inflow,† great Jatra play writers such as Gopal Das, Jagannath Pani,
Gopal Charan Das, Bandhu Nayak, Bhikari Nayak, Baishnaba Pani, Balakrushna
Mohanty and Rama Chandra Swain etcc. of the recent past had kept up the flame
burning of this great tradition of Jatra in Orissa which has not only kept up a rich
heritage but also had enlivened the Oriya population with the cultural
nourishment it required.
The production style of the common Jatra of Orissa :
] The production style of
the Jatra of Orissa is absolutely simple with the acting area (stage) in the
centre with spectators all around it. The Puspa Patha or the or the artist's passage wends it's way
through the spectators to the distant green room (The
Vesha Ghara) This Puspa
Patha also serves as an
additional acting area beside being the way for exit and entry of every
character. Of course sometimes a character even slipsoff from this Puspa
Patha and enters or exits from
some other sides in between the spectators to add interest. The chorus boys
and the musicians usually take their place near the stage opposite the Puspa
Patha. There are occasions where
the music party occupy a high platform above the artist's passage. There are
no other stage properties on the central stage except a single chair which
serves different purposes in different scenes. This chair turns to be a
king's throne, a poor man's hut, a bed cot, a lover's bench, a tree, a hiding
place, even a weapon to fight-with, as the story demands in different scenes,
a symbol for everything as required.
With stylised gaits, ornate costumes, tuneful traditional music, plenty of
dances, songs, conflicts and humour, Jatra of Orissa has remained not only a mere place of
entertainment but also an essential institution for learning for the people
This legitimate peoples theatre of Orissa, the common Jatra, corresponds to the Caturasra and Tryasra styles of playhouses meant for the masses as
described in the oldest treatise on dramaturgy, "The Natya-Sastra
of Bharata Muni" with acting area in the
centre and the "Sopanikruta Pithakams", the Galleries for the spectators, all around it.
Unfortunately with a complete reportoir of Round Theatre Arts in Orissa, we
do not yet possess a permanent Jatra-Theatre where we can witness a Jatra play in the winter or in the rainy season. Even
in summer, in the open-sky one has to ponder for a comfortable seat to enjoy a
Jatra play whole-heartedly. We
expect this absolute want will be fulfilled very soon.
In this article I will now speak about some of the distinct forms of Jatra plays available in Orissa from time immemorial.
It will not be out of place to mention that in some of the forms of Theatre,
Orissa excels in outstanding showmanship.
Galpasagara (Ocean of stories), Kath ka
(Story teller) and Harikatha (Stories of God):
These are all one-man shows, supposed to be the most ancient form of
dramatics, each a bit reformed than the other. The stories are dramatically
told with lots of voice modulations, songs, humour, actions, dialogues and
occasional dances also. Simple costume is improvised during performance to
suit the sequence. Self played musical instruments like Manjira,
Ektara, Ramatali, Daskathi, etc., are also played by the artists.
Mainly performed with two
artists on a central stage, Dasakathia is evolved and nourished along with the growth
of Rama's cult in Orissa. Gayaka †is the
main singer and his partner is known as Palia, who intermittently gives a rhythmic refrain of
the words Rama je Jaya Rama je, Nabina Sundar Rama je, Jaya
Ramaje. As the main story goes in
rhythmic commentary, special sequences are dramatised in dialogue form, each of
the two artists changing into different roles. Plenty of wit,† humour, songs fill the sequences and the
average show takes about 3 hours. Both the artists dress themselves in royal
attire and beside the tinklers tied to their ankles the Gayaka
plays on a pair of Ekaphalior Rama Tali and the Palia on the pair of Ramakathi or Daskathi. The Ramatalis are wooden clappers fitted with tinklers and
held by clasping a pair in both hands and the Dasakathias are a pair of staight 'castanets' made of hard
wood held in left hand and ticked together with fingers of the right hand to
beat time to the rhythm. The usual themes are taken from mythology. Love,
romance, deceit, elopement, marriages are the interesting features. The whole
performance is punched with many social skits, humourous anecdots and adages
in a pattern which distinguishes itself from other histrionic arts. In
Orissa, more than 150 groups of Dasakathia exist today, out of which more than 100 are in
Ganjam district alone. Dasakathia needs a small central acting area and no green room during the
Chaiti Ghoda Nata:
Chaiti Ghoda is a colourful item of performing art of Orissa specially done by
the fisherman community during the full-moon day of Chaitra month. It is said that Lord
Rama had presented a horse to
the boatman who had helped Him to cross the river Saraju during the period of his Vanavas. Hence they worship horse.
Each group has atleast three characters beside the musical accompanists of Dhol and Mahuri. These three characters are the Rauta the Rautani and the horse dancer.
An image of horse is improvised out of bamboo and cloth, complete with a
head, body and tail but without legs. The dancer enters into the cockpit of
the hollow body and hangs it at his waistline to give the illusion of a rider
on the horse, complete with straps, Performance are done in an arena without
a green room.
Rauta, who is the main singer commentator, delivers discourses mainly from
mythology. The Routani, in the role of his wife is the chorus and co-singer and dancer.
During the performance, dramatic sequence are highlighted with regular
improvised dialogues and humorous episodes. During the discourses, the singer
also explains the text in simple language with similiesand quatation. A lot
of vigorous dances are done by the Rautani and the horse dancer.sometimes a
pair or more horse dancers join in, which turns the performance into a sheer
thing of beauty, with varied compositions.
Chhaunata, although not a drama in its fuller interpretation, it is a
specialised dance drama. It is famous for its most colourful virile dance,
theChhau Nrutya, which is highly stylised and set to choreographic frame work. WhileChhau of seraikela uses masks for all its characters, Chhau of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Balasore and Dhenkanala
do not use them, thereby adding facial expression with body movement and
gesture. While the princes and the Royal famililies are the participants in
the Seraikela Chhau, and the commoners in the Mayurbhanja Chhau teams it has
remained with the traditional Paikas of Dhenkanal, whose ancestors themselves
formed the infanty men of the Dhenkanal Kings, before merger of states.
Themes of the dance dramas are taken from mythology to folk tales. Chhau is
usually performed during the Chaitra festival and except the sophisticated groups,
all others use an arena for performance with spectators around.
The origin of the word Chhau is traced by some, to Chhauni, the military camps of ancient kings. While
others maintain that the word is a derivative of Chhaya (shadow) etc. According to the experts of
Dhenkanal, this word Chhau is a derivative term of the word Chhai meaning body gesture seems to be more
The vigorous war dances with swords and shields, the colourful, dignified yet
intricate rythmic pattern of other dances, the loud yet melodious sound of
battle-drums such as Dhumsa, Nagra, Dhol and Chadchadi with Mohuri, actually brings thunderous effect
to make the audience spell-bound.
There are two distinct
types of Pala in Orissa, the Baithaki (sitting) and the Thhia (standing). It is associated with the worship of
Satyapir, a God both for Hindus and tje Muslims and hence its origin is traced
from the Moghul period, when all attempts had been made for the unification in
faith between both the religions. But the form of the Thhia
Pala which seems to be a
developed outcome of Binakara portion of the age old Dandanata of Orissa has a deeper origin.
The word 'Pala' has been derived from the word 'Pali'. 'Pali' was a highly developed language used for the
propagation of Buddhism after Lord Buddha. This language was mainly used in
ancient Kalinga and said to be more universal in understanding.
The "initials" or the Purba Ranga of a Pala play has a lot of similarity with that of the Purba
Ranga mentioned in Natya
Sastra. No other form of play
production exists today which adheres so much to the formalities as per the
Natya Sastra as that of a Pala play of Orissa. This justifiably signifies the
classical origin of this beautiful form of mass communication media of
As it is, the Thhia Pala is a unique form of play presentation with a high degree of literary
excellence. This is enacted by six persons who dress themselves in the
ancient royal attires. The chief actor known as the Gayaka holds a Chamara and plays on a small pair of Manjiras
and the rest form the Palias
or the chorus. Among these
there is one percussionist who plays on the Khol and the rest on Karatalas. One of these chorous boys, there happens to be jester
or Vidushaka who cracks a joke for everything. The main theme runs in a
commentary form, highlighting important portions in the real enactment of
drama, each player turning into a charactter with dialogues. The Gayaka during his singing explains passages which are
difficult to understand to the common mass with lots of simlies from other
writers, therby turning the perrformance into a literary discourse.
Intermittent humorous skits, occasional dancing with small foot works, turns
up to three or four hours. Pala needs a central acting area and no green-room
Sometimes Badipala is arranged where two or more Pala groups participate one after the other. These
turn into competitions of showmanship and literary duels and it is left to the
people to give the verdict as to which group is the best to get the prize.
Pala happens to be a very popular Jatra of Orissa, there are Pala groups now consisting
entirely of female artists. There exist Pala groups who perform it in Sanskrit language also.
A beautiful form has
developed in the recent times by the combination of both forms, the Pala and the Daskathia.
The highlights of both the forms have been so well blended making it appear
as a distinct style of its own.
I am extremely delighted at the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi's
sincere efforts to publish monographs on the histrionic art forms of Orissa,
the first one being on Chhau Dance of Dhenkanal, and the second one in the
series being the 'Danda Nata' of Orissa.
'Danda Nata' of Orissa has a glorious past and is even today very popular
among the masses. It is performed for thirteen days every year with all its
ritualistic significance strictly respected by its performers.
Unfortunately we the westernised urbanites of Orissa have little or no
knowledge about what 'Danda Nata' actually is. They hardly know that their
two most favourite dances 'Chadheiya Chadheiyani' and 'Kela Keluni' quite
often enjoyed and appreciated for their inherent humour and human appeal on
the urban theatre floors are but two sequences taken out of the context of
'Danda Nata' which comprises as is obvious from the monograph, of three
distinct phases and a series of sequences with characters from mythology as
well as from the rustic society of the past.
Our ignorance is however, no bliss as it alienates us from our proud cultural
heritage which, paradoxically enough our western friends so much eulogise
during their visits to this land.
I have little doubt therefore, that this modest monograph will enliven the
spirit of the art-lovers of Orissa and inspire them to conduct further
research on this histrionic art form so that we can provide enough food on
this histrionic art for scholars interested to discover our culture like a
Max Muller discovering ancient India or a W.B. Yeats discovering the
greatness in the works of Tagore.
Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi.
1. One of the little known facts about the cultural facundity of
Orissa is the prevalence of a large variety of "Folk theatres". The
Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi, therefore, has taken upon itself a programme of
publishing a series of monographs on the different forms of Folk theatre.
"Danda Nata is its second venture and the current year's programme
includes publication of monographs on five other forms like Bharat Lila
(Dwari Nacha), Chaiti Ghoda, Prahallad Natak, Desia Nata and Bandi Nata.
2. Danda Nata presents the fascinating feature of a curious amalgam of
tantric Buddhism, tantric Saivism and Saktism, and thus bears the stamp of a
cultural synthesis achieved in centuries past. It has a common strain with
that of Chaiti Ghoda Nata, Patua Jatra and Chadak Puja. It is performed in
the shrines of Goddesses in some coastal areas and specially in Garhjats, the
ex-State areas namely Bhatarika of Baramba, Sarala of Jhankada and Charchika
of Banki in Cuttack District, Chandrasekhar (Lord Siva) of Dhenkanal, Hingula
of Talcher, Kalapata of Angul, and Rankei Bauti of Hindol in Dhenkanal
District, Ramchandi of Konark and Gouri of Nayagarh in Puri District, Samalei
of Sambalpur, Danda Devi of Keonjhar and in many other shrines. It is also
performed before Lord Gopinath of Narasinghpur in Cuttack District which is
another interesting aspect of the process of cultural synthesis.
3. During the first three centuries after Christ, Buddhism continued to
dominate the cultural life of Kalinga under the aegis or savants like
Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Maitreyanath etc, Till about the middle of the fourth
century A.D. the Satabahanas, the Murundas, the Nagas of Bindhyatabi and the
Guptas politically either dominated or influenced kalinga, Trikalings (Giri
Kalingas), Amita Tosali, Kosala, Mahakantara and Kurala regions at various
times. During this period, Brahmanic religion began to permeate the different
strata of society. In Giri Kalinga and Bindhyabati worship of Siva became
popular. Saivism flourished under the Mudgalas of Utkal ( 6th century A.D.),
Gangas, Sailodbhavas (6th-7th century A.D.), the Nalas (5th-6th century
A.D.), the Bhaumakaras (9th centurty), and the Somavansis (8th-12th century).
The Kapila Samhita, Ekamra Purana, Ekamra Chandrika and Swarnadrimahodaya
describe the everlasting achievements of Sasanka for his construction of the
temple of Tribhubaneswar Siva at Ekamra Kshetra. The worship of Stambheswari
was prevalent from fifth century Dakhin Kosala, Trikalinga, and Kantara
(Western Orissa), under the Sulkis (5th-6th century A.D.) the Nalas, the Parvata
Dwarakas (5th century), the Tungas and the Bhanjas (9th century) Viraja of
Jaipur. The Vaitarani and Viraja Tirth of Mahabharat, Navigaya of Vishnu
Purana and the Sidha Pitha of Kubija Tantra had flourished as a centre of
Saktism from 4th-5th century to about 8th century and by the time Vital
temple (about 600 A.D.) was built, Bhubaneswar witnessed a unique blending of
Saktism, Saivism and Mahayan Buddhism.
4. Orissa was the cradle of Tantric Buddhism. In eighth century A.D.,
Indrabhuti, the king of Uddiyana organised Mantrayana Buddhism into Vajrayana
and his sister Laxsminkara was connected with development of Sahajayana. A
large number of Tantric Buddhist scholars such as Saraha (8th century).
Kambala, Padmavajra, Luipa (10th century), Lalita Vajra, Kukkuri, Pita etc.
were associated with Uddiyana. The grandiose cenception of
"Sahaja", as the ultimate reality of the philosophical speculations
of Upanisads,Buddha,Aswaghosha,Nagarjuna, of Vijnanavadins,Varayanists etc.,
and the human body as the abode of all tattvas,pithas and deities resulting
in propitiation of human nature ultimately degenerated into a congloneration
of sexophysical practices and remained confined to Guhya Puja. Tantric
Saivism was the refuge to escape extinction. Thus, Nathism evolved round
about 12th century as a reactionary movement against the erotic practices of
Tantric Buddhism. Yoginikula tantra of Matsyendranath was the precursor of
Natha cult and gave rise to the Yoginipithas of Ranipur Jharial (9th century)
and Hirapar (10th century), two out of 4 such pithas in India. Nathism later
transformed itself into Tantric Saivism by Gorakhanath. Its Yogic
cult(Niradhara Yoga of Hatha Yoga) influenced the yogic philosophers like
Achyuta, Ananta, Yasobanta etc. and also transformed the religion and
philosophy of Lord Jagannath into a Buddhist-Vaisnava cult in 15th and 16th
5. The vast amorphos mass of population have, all along their perigrinations
through history, accoutred their feelings and propensities, their emotions and
bhavas, in a manner, entirely different, both qualitatively and
quantitatively from the dominant minority. The different art forms like the
folk theatre thus represent a kind of telescoping the social history of the
peoples involved. They are characterised by an intense desire to live and let
live and a collective consciousness which is both wider and narrower than the
individual units composing it; wider in its fullness, potentiality,
propensity and anonimity and narrower in its depth and perspective. And since
they arise as a social product a cultural synthesis they reflect the highest
common factor of the forces and factors that compose it.
6. We have no doubt that this monograph will prove to be of interest to
layman and the elite alike.
Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi.
DANDA NATA OF ORISSA
Danda Nata of Orissa, also known as the Danda Jatra, happens to be
one amongst the most ancient form of histrionic arts of the state.
Associated with ritualistic services, Danda Nata forms an institution of
dance, music and dramatics blended with religions, social reformation and an
association of Universal Brotherhood.
Mainly an worship of Lord Shiva, the God of destruction of the Hindu
mythology, who is also the Lord of histrionic arts (Nata Raj), this
theatrical form brings into its fold a harmonious feelings of co-existance
between followers of different philosophical doctrins, between political
principles and sets of opinions.
Along with votive dedications to Lord Shiva (Rudra, Hara, Mahadeva, Shankar,
Bholanath etc.) in a Danda Nata, the greatness of other Gods & Goddesses
such as Vishnu, Krishna, Ganesh, Durga, Kali etc., are also equally invoked.
Similarly while the original participants in a Danda Nata were said to be
only the low-caste Hindus people belonging to all other higher castes such as
Kshyatriyas and Brahmins also participate in this institution with equal
Unsophisticated as it may look from the so-called modern urban standard, this
Danda Nata of Orissa has even to day as before, the maximum popularity
amongst the masses than any other performing arts in the whole of the State.
The word DANDA NATA or DANDA JATRA:
The word Jatra is an
indigenous term for the English word "theatre" and "Nata"
is a derivative term of the word Natya which conveys a meaning of dance,
music and dramatics.
The word Danda, denotes several meaning according to the lexicon. Mainly it
means (1) Staff, Club, Stick, Rod, Pole, or Sceptre etc., (2) Punishment,
In this Danda Nata (1) A sceptre of the Lord, is worshiped and (2) The
participants voluntarily bear self -inflicted penance.
According to very ancient Hindu philosophy, the greatness of an individual of
this materialistic world depends upon his accomplishment of self control over
his own Body (Kaya), Mind (Mana) & Speech (Vakya). It takes tremendous
amount of practice to gain this control and amounts to a lot of self denials.
Those who achieve this are known as the Tri-Dandis (triple chastisement).
Since this method of bringing purity of conduct involves a lot of punishment
(Danda) to self, this performance accorading†
to many is known as the Danda Nata.
The word DANDA:
There is however, a very interesting definition given to the orgin of the
word DANDA. Because of the vigorous types of dances associated with the Danda
Nata, it is said to have originated from the heavenly Tandava Nrutya Lord
Shiva.It is said that once Lord Shiva was teaching a Tandava Nrutya to his
son Lord Ganesh. While dancing vigorously he kicked the stage and the sound
"DAN" emanated. Simultaneously one of his Ghagudi ( the brass
tinkler ) was broken from its chain around his raised ankle, dropped and fell
on the body of the Mardala ( the percussion instrument ) emanating another
subsequent note of sound as "DA". Together, therefore the word
DANDA evolved to get the blessing of Lord Shiva to associate its meaning with
performance of dance and music with vigour known as "Udanda",
The time of Danda Nata
Danda Nata commences from
the Chaitra Purnima and continues upto the Pana Sankranti (Vishuva Sankranti)
day. These two months, Chaitra and Baisakha are considered most auspicious
for the worship of Lord Shiva. Many religious treatise indicate that if Lord
Shiva is invoked during this period of the year, the earth is blessed with
good harvest, increase of wealth and all round improvement of the families
and communities occur.
The invocatory performances of Lord Shiva commences from the sixth day of the
Meena Month (March-April). For four days from the sixth day, preliminary
preparations are made people make vow, some receive Hukums (Nostrums),
through trance. Then for eight days the Jhamu Jatra takes place. The rest
thirteen days of the month is meant for Danda Jatra.
In Orissa like the Danda
Jatra, there are other kinds of ritualistic festivals as well, which are
associated with self inflicted penance. They are the (1) Patua Jatra (2)
Chadaka Puja (3) Jhamu Jatra etc. While in Chadaka Puja and Jhamu Jatra mainly
the penances are demonstrated, in Patua Jatra, and Danda Jatra, regular
theatrical performances are followed in the nights.
The participants in a Danda Nata invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva. They are
all under a vow. It may be to be blessed with a child, to fulfil certain
ambition, to get rid of sickness, seeking happiness in life, good harvest,
even peace and happiness to all fellowmen.The total number of vowers are 13
and the number of days for the festival is also 13. The vowers are known as the
Bhoktas. This word Bhokta is derived from the word Bhakta (Devotes). Drawn
from all communities, the leader of the Bhoktas is known as the Pata-Bhakta.
All the Bhoktas lead a very pious life for 21 days. They do not eat meat or
fish nor cohabit during this period. The Pata Bhokta does not eat rice and
lives on fruit-juice and snacks. Others eat just one meal a day consisting of
plain rice etc. which they cook themselves and eat at a place away from
habitation. During the time of their gruel, any human voice per chance brings
an abrupt end to their eating for that day. That is why at some places they
keep on beating the drums until the eating is over.
During the period of
Jatra, all Bhoktas carry out different forms of services to the Lord and
there fore they are named differently. They are as under :-
(1) Pata Bhokta
(2) Deula Padia
(3) Danda Swami
(4) Nili Patra
(5) Chandania Patra
(6) Gobaria Patra
(7) Danta Kathia Patra
(8) Betua Patra
(9) Dhupia Patra
(11)Chaua Mail etc. (Collected from Dr. K. B. Dash, article)
Ghata is the Pitcher
In most of the religious and social functions of the Hindus, a pitcher full
of water holds a very important place. The pitcher represents the body and the
water is the life. It represents the God invoked and hence worshiped with due
reverence. After the function is over the pitcher is again taken into the
water of a pond or river with due care and immersed from where it had been
In a Danda Nata this Ghata is known as the Kamana Ghata. Kamana means desire
and to worship the Kamana Ghata means to seek the blessing of the Lord for
the fulfilment of one's desire.
There is again an interesting story as to how the pitcher came to be known as
Kamina. "Kamina" happened to be the name of a Raksyasi (Demoness)
with whom Lord Shiva fell in Love while moving†† to leave her. At the parting Kamina asked
him about her fate and he consoled her saying that atleast once in a year the
people of the earth will be remembering her. This Ghata named as Kamana
therefore is said to be a symbol of her. (from Dr. K. B. Dashs, article).
According to poet late Bhikari Charan, this Ghata represents
"Kalia", the consort of Lord Shiva. It is through her blessings,
the Bhoktas are are able to take up the, self inflicted peanances without any
ill effect. It is she who protects all and fulfills all ambitions.
A new picture is taken to the pond or a river and water is lifted, to the
accompaniment of drums and blowing of conch shell. This pitcher is first
worshiped under a banian tree and then taken out in a procession through the
village and then kept in a hut (made preferably in front of a Shiva's
temple), known as the Kamana Ghara. Two†
pieces of cane-sticks, representing 'Hara' & 'Gouri'are also kept
near the Ghata and worshiped. A sacred fire is kept lighted up in the hut
from which Pata-Bhokta lights up an oil lamp. Whle lighting, the Bhoktas yell
with the word "Rushi Putre". Time to time when resin and myrrh powder
is thrown on the lighted oil lamp,† it
burns up with a flare and the Bhoktas yell the words "Kala Rudramani Ho
A staff of the length of 61/2 cubits bearing 13 joints
(representing 13 Bhoktas) and a piece of cloth tied to its top is worshipped.
This is the Kamana Danda.
WHERE TO PERFORM:
The entire party
consisting of the Bhoktas and their collegues go around the village in a
procession with the band of musicians. No specific declaration is made as to
where they are going to perform "Danda" on that day.
Like the Bhoktas, some villagers (male or female) also keep a vow in their
mind for getting some mercy from Lord Shiva. Seeing the procession, these
vowers pour water and clean up the frontage of their house with cow-during
water and hurriedly put up, floor designs with coloured powders and keep a
jugful of water.
This indicates an invitation to the party.
Having received an invitation thus, the group stop there. After small
preliminaries, the group light up an oil lamp and keep it on the verandah of
the host and return to their camp.
At mid day, the party comes back to the spot and perform the Bhumi (Earth)
Danda or Dhuli(Dust) Danda.
The Phases of Dand Nata:
Danda Nata, distinctly
comprises of three phases.
(1) The Bhumi or Dhuli Danda (Acrobatics & gymnastics) at dat
(2) The Pani Danda (Aquatic feats) at day time.
(3) The Danda suanga (Dance, Music & Dramatics) at night time.
These three are the main, however, while taking out the procession or the
begining of the night performance the "Agni Danda" (or the
performance with fire) is also displayed.
The Bhumi or Dhuli Danda:
This consists of a lot of
physical excercises and acrobatics. The themes enacted in short sequences
represents mainly the art of ploughing, cultivation and harvesting. A few
formations in human figures, pyramids are displayed. During these
performances one Bhokta asks "How much paddy" ? And the other
Bhoktas gice a figure which denotes, the ensuing result of harvest during the
coming year. This performance of Bhumo Danda is over by the afternoon and the
Bhoktas yell" Kala Rudra Mani Ho Joy" and proceed to the village
pond for the "Pani Danda".
Pani Danda consists of
aquatic feats. While the groups put up their performance as they swim and
form pyramids in water, the musicians play Dhol & Mouri. Men, women and
children gather around the pond or the riverside to watch this show.
After this performance of Pani Danda, the Bhokatas return to their camp to
have their only meal of the day and to prepare for the nights performance.
DANDA NATA SUANGA
"Suanga" corresponds to the Sanskrit word "Swanga" which
means graceful acting. Dance is always based on music. Any dramatic
performance consisting of Dance and music therefore is known as Suanga in
Oriya language. In a Danda Nata like any olden Suanga, every character enters
dancing with the accompanying music, gives his self introduction, description
of what the character is wearing or supposed to wear, even a description of
his gait and make-up and while singing he dances intermittently. During a
dialogue also the dance actions are corroborated. In between the dialogyes
both the speaker and the listing charactor dance vigorously. This pattern is
a feature in every sequence of the Danda Nata which distinguishes its
identity from other types of performing arts.
The presentation style of
Danda Nata is absolutely simple as that of any common Jatra of Orissa except
the fact that do not need a raised platform in the centre. Any open space or
the village cross-road turns out to be an acting area, sorrounded by
spectators on all the four sides. Only a narrow path amongst the spectators
wends its way to a distant improvised green room where the participants do
the make up, costuming and rest. Sometimes a canopy is also put-up over the
central acting area.
The Accompanying Music:
The main accompnying
musical instrument in Danda Nata is the DHOLA (the double-sided drum) and the
MAHURI (the wind instrument like Shehnai). The other instruments which are
used only in sequences of God characters are the GHANTA (the bell metal
disc), SANKHA (the conch-shell), KAHALI (Clarion), the JHANJA (Brass alloy
Beside the above, other smaller instruments like GHOONGROO, GHAGUDI (small
& big tinklers) DASAKATHI. RAM TALI (wooden clappers), Khanjani, Ghooduki
or Dhuduki. Dambaroo and Bina etc. are also played by the characters
themselves as required.
The "Bina" used by the character "Binakara" in Dandanata
is not the type of "Bina" (the string instrument) known popularly.
Here it is not a string instrument played by twangs. It is a Bow decorated
with peacock feathers and in its string seven tinkle bells are tied. The
player Binakara holds the Bow in his left hand raised and by jerks brings out
the jingle in rythm.
The Place of the Musicians:
The musicians take their
positions at a side of the open arena nearer to the artist passage. Sometimes
they move to the Vesha Ghara (Green Room) to lead a character to the arena.
The drummers not only play the drums through out the performance but also
demonstrate their own skill and stamina by playing the drums with regular
dances and acrobatics in between the sequences.
The THEME OF DANDA NATA:
Danda Nata is not a
performance of a complete story drama. It has a chain of loosely connected conventional
episodes with a central theme of complete faith in God. It is He who can
rescue the earthly-beings from the clutches of evil. It is He who can grant
happiness in life. Nothing happens without the will of Providence and so we
must surrender to Him always.
The CHARACTERS & ROLES IN A DANDA NATA
Since Danda Nata does not
contain a full story in its totality, each sequence has its own characters.
So there is a series of sequence in which the characters appear in different
Veshas and Upaveshas.
While slight vatiations are seen amongst the Veshas and Upa-veshas of Danda
Natas of the North, South and West Orissa, the main Veshas like the PRAVA,
KALIKA, SHIVA, CHADHEIYA, CHADHEIYANI, PATRA SAURA, SAURUNI, PARVATI, KELA,
KELUNI, SABARA, SABARUNI, BAI DHANA, BINAKAR, KARUNI etc. are mostly common
The other characters which are introduced at some places but not included at
other places are NANDI, NARADA, GUNIA, BAIDYA, JAMBABA, DWARI, additional
wives of Chadheiya or Kela, son of Chadheiya, BANA DURGA, a brother of
Chaddheiya, son of Saura, BAISHNABAS, GUDIA, GOPALUNIS, KRISHNA, GOPIS,
BRAHMIN, OLD MAN, NARADA, DANDASI, DUMBURA, & HIS MOTHER, JAMADAR, HADI
HADIANI, SAHEB, DAROGA etc.
From amongst the characters of Danda Nata, it will be seen that except the
characters of Gods or Goddessess, all others are the most ancient human
species, nothing to do with the so called modern civilisation. They are from
the lowest cadre of the society and the most down troddon. They have no
materialistic belonging but yet have their biggest belonginfg "the deep
faith in God".
The PATA BHOKTA:-
The Pata Bhokta is not a regular character in the Danda Nata, but he
in plain clothes is there through-out, not only as the Sutradhara or the
Master if ceremony in a Danda Jatra.
On behalf of Spectators, he asks questions and talks to the characters.
Sometimes he also recites a story to the masses. He also leads the first
"Vandana" the invocatory songs in praise of all Gods and Goddesses.
The character "Prabha" which as a must, is introduced in
the beginning of a Danda Nata, represents the Halo or the symbolic luminous
ring of light around saviour, Lord Shiva's head.
A semi-circular cut-out in the shape of nimbus made of bamboo decorated and
tied to the back of the actor from waist.
The character is brought-out only during the ritualistic period of 13 days of
Danda Nata. During other period of the year if a performance is made for
entertainment, PRABHA is not brought out.
At some places of Orissa, Danda Nata without PRABHA is known as UDANDA NATA.
Prabha ordinarily enters solo, but there seems to have been variations.
Sometimes PARBATI or DURGA or KALIKA also enter with PRABHA, with their usual
make-ups and costumes accompanying with the fan-fare of a Gods entry
sometimes with the fire play.
These characters enter with vigorous dancing-sometime fall into a trance and
taken back to the green room.
Sometime this (or these) character gives self-introductery songs. The Pata
Bhokta asks for blessings, so that the Danda Nata performance os peacefully
done. The God blesses and tells them to go on with sanctity.
This Chadheiya is the most important character in Danda Nata. He
represents a traditional bird-catcher who lives in the natures bountiful. He
catches or kills birds, sells them and makes a living. He holds a pole
(Danda) in one hand and a nose in the other. There has been reference that
Chadheiyas were Masks but they normally do not use makeups.
Scantily clad, with a handkerchief and head gear, he enters the arena with
the usual self introductions and the descriptions of his gait and attire,
accompanying with vigorous dancing.
With the Pata Bhokta asking him several questions as to who is he, where he
had gone, the places he has visited and the purpose of his coming, the
Chadheiya answers them all through his songs.
The Chadheiya, in search of birds goes and kills a peacock on a tree in the
premises of a temple. This is a great offence because killing of peacock is
prohibited. A snake bites him. He falls and dies.
His consort, the Chadheiyani enters in the same manner of self introductions
answering to the questions, looking for her husband and atlast finds him
She prays to the Goddess of the Jungle, the VANADURGA, who appears, sympathises
and tells her that five types of birds such as Parrot, Mynah, Piegon, Duck
& Peacock are the favourites of the Lord. The Chadheiya has been punished
by snake bite beacuse he killed a peacock, that again in the temple premises.
Deep faith in God will bring him back to life. Vana Durga exits.
After her departure, attempts are made to cure the chadheiya-through a Gunia
(With doctor), a Vaidya (Village doctor) but all fail. Later a Kela (Snake
Charmer) who by applying spell in the name of God Mahadev & Goddess
Parvati brings the Chadheiya back to life.
This in short is the sequence of the Chadheiya in a Danda Nata but there has
been severals light variations and adoptations at different places of Orissa.
At places they bring in two Chadheiuanis instead of one and in doing so,
present the comedy of error and the misfortunes of bigamy through a lot of
humorous situation. At places a Chadheiyani comes first alone, joins her
husband, quarrels with him, patches up and asks him to catch a bird for him.
In some places a son of Chadheiya, who is a spoilt child is introduced and at
the expense of all housemembers opens up the secrets of the house-hold in the
public to the amusement of all.
At Places, a brother of Chadheiya who is lame and ugly (sometimes) is introduced
who, knowing that his brother is dead, offers his candidature to marry his
In some communities, the system of marrying the elder brotheís wife prevails
after the death of the brother there by justifying eradication of the system of
child widow ship and socially maintaining the same cordialities between the
families of both boy and the girl.
In the modern times, at some places of Orissa, characters like a Jamadar
(Policeman) or a Paika or a Chowkidar (Village watch man) and even a Saheb
(An Official) is introduced who conducts an enquiry on the death of the
Chadheiya, suspecting it to be a murder etc., introduced to expand the
episode and give it a touch of reality.
PATRA SAURA :
This character from itís very name indicate a primitive character
from amongst the human species.
Although the word 'Saura' is said to be an abbroviation of the word
"Sabara" meaning a hunter, there is a tribal community in Orissa
which is also known as "Saura" and in a Danda Nata, we have another
sequence dedicated for the "Sabara" also.
The ancestry of this character Saura has been described by a popular writer
of Danda Nata Jog Malika in his book. He has collected it from Anarya
Sambita. It says, "A son was born to saint Kundalaka and his wife,
Alakshmi. The child becomes wayward. He did not put on cloths and loafed
around the forest with a hand shovel attiring him self with leaves. He lived
on fruits and roots. He was a nomad. He had faith in Vana Debi, the Goddess
of the forest, whom he worshipped. He moved from place to place like a mad
man searching for food. His most important festival falls on the full
moon-day of Shravana, known as Gamha Purnima.
"Lord Ganesha had presented him with a musical instrument
"Ghoomra" which he plays, (At home places it is the Ghuduki and not
Ghoomra and at places it is both Ghuduki and Ghoomra which the Patra Saura
plays) in Dhaibata: Gandhara & Nishad, to entertain the public."
"Chitra Sena presented him with a twig of the black berry tree. (Jamu
Dali) which he ties over his head to have his with fulfilled."
"He holds a cat which accoradingly meant to bring good effect when seen
before starting for any work."
There is a belief prevailing at many places that seeing a Cat crossing your
path brings bad news or happening. According to Danda Nata, it is a good omen
to see a cat. Although now a days a cat is not held while dancing, it was a
custom to hold a cat.
She is the wife of Saura.
She is an illegitimate child of this earthly world.
There is also a story about the orgin of Saurani.
Once upon a time, there was a low cast man named "Sankhua". He was
once wandering in the forest. There he met the daughter of Sabara and her
name was Kshyati. She was very pretty. This youngman made love to her and she
conceived. Afterwords she delivered a baby girl. Since she was illegitimate
the mother left her in the forest. Fortunately another Sabara named
"Madhava" found her and took heer to his hut. The girl grew up to a
beautiful woman and the Sabara named her as Shova. No body would agree to
marry her because her parentage was not known. She was spending a cursed
A Patra Saura named Dhana reached the village and seeing her, liked her. They
were married and in course of time a daughter was born and she became the Patra
The basket which this character holds and the bangles she wears are said to
be presentations by a Sabaruni to her in the forest.
Both Patra Saura and Sauruni sing songs describing the greatness of God. They
also relate mythological and religious stories. They quarrel amongst
themselves and bring a mediator and have an amicable settlement.
To this sequence at places, other characters like the son of the Saura, a
Vaidya, Father-in-law etc, are added to expand the theme.
He is the snake charmer.
His role is to save the Chadheiya's life,lost in a snakes bite ,he brings
with him a variety of snakes (sometimes real snakes are displayed.He knows
all about the snake world.He is a great devotee of lord Shiva and with his
blessings he is acquired the power to cure apatient from snake bite and give
him back the lost life.Beside this power he has acquired other powers like
stambha(benumbing),Mohan(causing delusion),udana(flying)and such other black
magics.He plays a NAGESWAR (Wind instrument made out of guard dried)and
blings out Sapta-swara(seven sounds)he also plays a Dambru(the favourite
musical instrument of Lord Shiva)He displays snakes,makes them dance. He also
This character as he enters like others, sings invocatory songs, songs
relating to snakes, Padmatola Geet (song relating to Lord Krishna plucking of
Lotus in river Kalandi), song relating to places, mountains, rivers states,
as well as the snake bite cure Mantras.
To this sequence of Sapua Kela, sometimes, the caracter, of his concert, the
Keluni, a son is also introduced, providing interludes of comedy, Keluni also
administers tattoos, singing songs relating to it.
He is mendicant. This
character mainly mentains himself from the alms he gets. Through out the day
he moves from door to door seeking aims. He has no properties of his own
except the begging bowl.
In a Danda Nata, when they introduce the "Jogi" as an independent
sequence, his consort the Jogiani is also introduced.
The Jogi, after the days hard work of wandering from place to place, comes
home and searches for his wife. After finding her he asks her to serve him
food. She replies that he may go himself to cook and eat. The quarrel starts.
A mediator (sometimes known as Manginath) intrudes, at first encourages them
to fight and then throws them to sides and they run away.
In same places a group of Jogis enter the arena together, expose their
identities and speak cut as to how they have found their profession of
begging easy. It is not the detachment to worldly affairs and faith in God
but their lethargy to work for food which has made them to put on the garb of
fake Jogis. The sequence turns to be a satire.
There is an interesting story which relates the origin of Jogis.
Once upon a time Lord Shiva and Parvati were having a chat. Parvati told him
that the name of Lord Brahma is attributed to all creation including the
human species. Shiva's name is attributed to destructions only. So, inorder
to prove for all times that Lord Shiva is also a creator. He should create a
new species amongst the human being. Hearing this Lord Shiva smiled and at
once brought out a real human being from his Yoga. He named him Hara Natha.
Parvati said that without procreation this specie will have no purpose. So
obtaining Shiva's permission, she brought out a female human being from her
mind and named her Sushila. Both Hara Natha and Sushila were married and from
them the the community evovled. These Jogis hold a dry shell of govrd as
their begging bowl for collecting aims. They chant the five letters "BOM
BHOLANATH" meaning Shiva which protects them from all evils (from Jogi
Malika's Danda Nata).
Sabara is a hunter. He is
a man who lives by killing of animals in the forest. He is a devotee of Lord
Shiva and recites his greatness always. He holds a bow and an axe. He wears a
turban tucked with bird's feathers and dances vigorously.
Sabaruni is the consort of the Sabara. She decorates herself with many
varieties of Jungle flowers. She sells berries of various kinds through her
Koli-Bike-Geeta (songs on berries)
Like the Chadheiyani, at some places she also sells birds of various kinds by
singing songs on varieties of birds (Chadhei Geet).
This couple also quarrel amongst themselves and have an amicable settlement,
patching up their differences. "Sabara" as a community, has a lot
of emotional attachment with the upper class Hindus of this state. Mythology
relates as to how Lord Jagannath was being worshipped in the Jungle by the
King of Sabara. Viswabasu and how a Brahmin Vidyapati married the daughter of
the Sabara and ever since. Lord Jagannatha is being worshipped by the
children of this couple, through generations. A lot of Sabara culture
therefore has been adopted by the upper class Hindus of Orissa.
The character of† Sabara† therefore is a very popular one in Orissa.
Here is a character whose
identity and purpose is shrouded in mystery. He is known as the BHAIDHANA in
western Orisssa, which means "Brother Dear".
Late Laxminarayan Sahoo traces the origin of this character to that of a
Gandharaba (a celestial musician) who having been cursed in heaven has taken
life on earth. He is singing and dancing in praise of the Lord in order to
get back to his previous life in heaven. Baidhana holds two bundles of
peacock feathers and moves them beautifully as he dances.
The man who plays the Bina
is the Binakara. How this Bina differs from other Binas has been mentioned
earlier in the chapter in accompanying music .
This Binakar, while holding the Bow shaped Bina by his left hand at shoulder
level also holds an arrow,† peacock
feathers tied in his right hand.
The artist dresses up with a redshirt on his body and a turban on his head
and puts on bead necklaces.
Binakara is the most important and final character in a Danda Nata. He
recites Sanskrit verses and explains its meaning. He narrates in song a
complete story from mythology, glorifying the greatness of God and the
virtues over vices. He answers various types of questions (all in songs) put
to him by the Pata Bhokta (on behalf of the spectators). He also explains
meanings of his recitations in prose if need be. To avoid monotony he gives
similies, adages and changes the tunes of his songs. Intermittently he dances
while jingling the 'Bina' accompanied by his consort, the Karuni.
The cfonsort of Binakara
in Danda Nata, the Karuani is also the co-dancer.
Sometimes to amuse the spectators they have battle of wits, wordy quarrels to
follow a mutual settlement.
The Binakara sequence is of the longest duration in a Danda Nata.
After completing the story, the Binakara sings the finale known as
"Melaani" songs expecting honorariums for the performers. Finally
the importance of Danda Nata is told as to how by arranging, performing and
witnessing the Danda Nata, people will be relieved of the punishment of God.
OTHER CHARACTERS IN DANDANATA:
Beside the above
characters, many other minor characters also appear in a Danda Nata and it
varies from place to place.
In a sequence on Lord Krishna (which is not necessarily produced by all
groups) Radha and her friends Gopikas go for selling curds. A Babaji
(Mendicant) begs of curds and blesses them. After selling curds they want to
go back by crossing a ferry. Krishna in disguise takes them on a boat across
the river Jamuna.
There the Gopis land in the garden of Kansa, the King of Mathura. They are
fascinated at the varieties of flowers and start plucking them. The watchmen
of† Kansa comes and drives them away.
In Angul, they introduce this watchman to be a Mian Pathan (a Mohamedan).
Written by rural poets, this introduction of a Muslim in a Danda Nata goes to
reveal the influence on the societies after the Moghul rule and the peaceful
co-existence between communities.
"Kandha" is a tribal community of Orissa. They have beautiful forms
of "Dhangabada Nata." This dancer therefore is introduced in a
sequence known as Kandha Kandhuni.
Similarly at places Baishnaba Sadhus also have been introduced doing
"Kirtan" in praise of the Lord with interludes of side humour.
On the whole beside the imprtant characters, now a day, many new sequences
are added in a Danda Nata with new character as a sort of novelty.
A Danda Nata mainly
consists of songs in Oriya. At places Sanskrit verses are also recited. Prose
dialouges are very few and at many instances, they are spoken extempore.
Beautiful ornamentations are made in the composition of the verses. In most
of the cases the writers choose to keep the first letters of the subsequent
lines in an alphabetical order from "Ka" to "Kshya".
Songs for inferior characters are in local dialects. It is seen in many cases
that characters like the Lord Shiva. Narada watchman etc., speak in Hindi or
Urdhu Language which can be traced to the impact of Moghul & Maratha rule
In humorous sequences, mixed language and dialects of Hindi, Telugu and
Bengali have also been seen used.
On the whole in a Danda Nata, the language is fluid, simple and easily
understood by all.
ELEMENT OF HUMOUR :
In a Danda Nata of Orissa
a high sense of humour prevails in every sequence. There are battle of wits,
mutual admiration, quarrels and compromise between the different couples in
The Satires on fask Sadhu who makes a living on the religious sentiments of
the people, on the Vaidya who adminsters wrong medicines, on the not so pious
holy man letting off wrong blessing, the gags etc., cause roars of laughter
amongst the spectators. The peculiar styles of vigorous dancing by Sadhu, the
Chowkidar and other characters also provide a lot of amusement.
Full of satire on the practica side of a mere earthly being in almost every
sequence, this Danda Nata reveals a very high sense of humour of the rural
mass of Orissa.
Elimination of Superstitions,
To eliminate odd
superstitions and untouchability, Danda Nata has been a very powerful medium
of mass communicition.
The No. 13, has at some quarters been associated to be a bad omen. In a Danda
Nata there are 13 Bhoktas, it continues for 13 days, the pole worshipped has
13 joints indicating that 13 is a lucky number.
Also the conventional notion about a cat, considered by many a bad omen, is
sqashed directly by making it to be held by the Patra Saura, who bluntly
Biradi Mahima Ki Debi Upama
Ghate Sarba Subha Na hue
Tenu biraje ta Kare
Hence a cat is not
DANDA NATA-AN INSTITUTION OF
Danda Nata thus, not only
provides clean entertainment to the masses, it also teaches them the art of
living, broad thinking and simple living. It inculcates a deep faith in God,
the creator of this universe with a sense of devot on and duty.
Danda Nata is of the masses, by the masses and for the masses.
This booklet could have
been a voluminous thing and the pages could have been profusely illustrated
also if.......... I am trying to do it that way shortly.
This small monograph is just an introduction to the indigenous theatre field
of Orissa I could have named it "Folk Theatre of Orissa" but the
term "folk" is so much used to mean the opposite of the term
"classical", that I have deliberately not used it. I find many of
the so called "folk forms do have a so called classical base both in the
style of writing and in its presentations. I therefore prefer to use the
terms as Natya Dharmi (Conventional) and Loka Dharmi (Realistic) as per the
I request the dear readers to bear with me all short comings in this
publication and let me know their opinions.
DR. HAREKRUSHNA MAHATAB,
the great Statesman & Connoisseur of arts.
But for whose encouragements, my efforts in reviving & projecting the traditional
Jatra of Orissa, would have been lost in the wildness of hypocrisy.
On the occasion of his
83rd Birthday on 21st Nov. 81
Many happy returns.
Books Referred :
1.Danda Nata by Jogi Malika
2.Danda Nata by Shri Ananda Kavi Chandra Rayguru
3.Danda Nataka by Mahadeva Kar
4.Danda Natara Suanga Geetabali by Bhikari Charan Das Kaviratna
5.Danda Nata Raghu Arakhita Charita by Shri Manohara Meher
6.Danda Nata Mahiravana Judha by Mahadeva Kar
7.Danda Nata Karna Dana Parikhya by Mahadeva Kar
8.Chadheiya Chadheiyani Suanga by Chaitanya Kavi
9.Danda Nata by Laxmi Narayan Sahu
10.Odia Loka Geeta O Kahani by Dr. K. B. Dash
11.Article on Danda Nata by Sri Bhagirathi Nepak
12.Article Bolangir Jillara Loka Nrutya O Geeta by Shri Narasingha Prasad
back to book
Script :†† JHANSI KI RANI††
By Dhiren dash.
Sutradhara enter from the auditorium with a basket of flowers and the jarjara
stick. They circle the stage and arrive the stage and arrive at the center, where
they place the stick.
Eight dancers enter.
INVOCATION† SONG :
deba diyate padayastava offering flowers at your feet, oh Lord
Nirbhignam Abhinesyami natikau tvat prasadatah without flaws our play to you
Nati : Namaskar. Svagatam hey
Sutradhara : †Namaskar. Svagatam hey nararupi Narayana.
Nati : †Ab Jhansi Ki Rani gitabhinaya ki suruat ho
Sutradhara : Ap agar ise
sadarse grahana kare, hamara parisram sarthaka hoga
Nati : Namaskar Dhanyavad.
Nati, Sutradhara and dancers exit.
Enter† English commentators :
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of The Evergreen State College,
we extend a hearty welcome to you, our distinguished spectators, who are here
to witness our jatra production.
Usually a Jatra performance is held in an open air
improvised auditorium with the stage in the center and spectators all
around. Now you know open air in the middle of winter is impossible in
Seatle. Although we are presenting our Jatra in a proscenium theatre an
alien home, we have retained the traditions and flavor of the jatra of
Orissa in India.
Our story today of Jhansi ki Rani, one of the bravest women and leaders of
the Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857-58 as the British called it. The Indians now
know it as the rebellion or the first war of independence.
Now,the queen of Jhansi was not aggressive by nature.It was only when the
British threatened to annex her little kingdom that she took of arms against
them. She was left no choice,and she died fighting on the battle field,felled
by a stray musket ball from the better-equipped British.
The bards of india still sing of the valor and Virtues of the woman who held
her own against themighty British. now, sit back and relax,and enjoy our
presentation of The warrior Queen,the rani of Jhansi.
Exit English commentators
Enter dancers. VASANTA PALLAVI.
Exit dancers. Enter Nati and Sutradhara.
sunahe sujane ebe kohun jeun kotha
Listen, oh god Folks,the story we tell
Bharata itihasoro gotha
The glorious chapter from the history of india
Svadhinota Svabhimano birotoro bani
words of freedom,self-respect,and heroism
Deshopain pranoboli omoro kahini
Undying legend of sacrifice for country
pracino Bharoto kotha janithiba sorbe
You know the story of ancient India
Dhono dhanye sanskruitre poripurno bhabe
Rich in wealth, crops and tradition
Bideshinku akorshito kola ghono
It attracted foreigners again and again
Jutile asi Ingreja banijyore mono
The British came with trade in mind.
Enter English commentors.
English : We now tell you the story of valor and the struggle for
independence. Ancient India was a prosperous country. Its culture was at its
zenith and it attracted all foreigners for trade and commerce.
Enter 12-16 dancers
DANCE : SARVESHAN :
The land of Bharat is our Mother
Like a creeper of wish-fulfilment, it fulfils our wishes
We are all her children.
It is our duty to make her happy
The Himalayan mountains are her forehead
On all sides of her lie the seas
She has birthed us and she feeds us
Her civilization is ancient
and saints pray to her
This land of Bharat is the source of our happiness
that spreads to the entire world
we will, united, take care of her comforts.
continues, enter upstage 6 British led by nephew. As the dance comes to an
end, the British cast their nets. There is laughter, followed by merrymaking.
Enter Nati and Sutradhara pointing at the British.
Bharotoro basi sorolo biswasi jani Ingraja baniko .............††††
Knowing that the people of India are simple , British traders.
Bistarila jalo ei desho matire kori kopoto oneko
.......................deceitfully spread their net on the soil of this land.
Rajyo pore rajyo kola korayoto lagai bibhedo koli
.................state after state they captured, encouraging infighting.
Osumari bire matima sebare dei gole atmo boli
....................Uncounted martyrs gave their lives in service of
The British push
the Nati and Sutradhara to backstage. Exit Nati and Sutradhara. Exit British.
Enter English commentators.
Orginally there for trade, the British settled in the country and started
grabbing land, and then state after state. Many lost their lives for their
motherland. Our heroine, Laxmibai, was born to the family of a courtier of
the exiled Peshwa, Baji Rao.
Exit English commentators.
Bithuro nogoro basi Moroponto nama
Resident of Bithura nagara Morapanta by name
Monikornika tankoro duhita rotono
Manikarnika was his daughter (like a gem)
Baloko sodrusha skikhya dikhyare ta tamono
From childhood she liked to read & write
Oswogoje porikroma mono chono chono
Always anxious to ride horse & elephant
Exit Nati & Sutradhara
English commentators enter
The young Manu, as she was fondly called, was very playful. She liked spots,
rode horses and wished to ride elephants. She also loved to read and write.
English commentators exit
Enter Child Manu with friends, father and Rajguru
Music only as the children play and Manu controls the elephants and is
refused to ride it.
Moroponto, Manu's father :
Na kando Monu, na kando tuhi, ei tuchho kothare
.........Do not cry Monu at these words.
Kohun debi mu ajo, ei oshwogoje ghuruchhi mathare
.........I wonder where I can get you horse or elephant.
goribo ghore jonmi, ishworo krupa gheni
.........If God wishes, although you were born poor
Achhi jyotisho bani to hebu rani,
.........Astrologers have forecasted you will be queen
Jiba to byathare
.........your sorrows will be over
English commentators (offstage)
Don't you cry, my child. Your desire to ride elephants will one day be
fulfilled if God wishes. Do you know that the astrologers have predicted that
one day you will be a royal queen ? and that day is not far.
The children and Manu, father and
suklopokhyo soshi somano bikashe ongo taro
......like the moon of the bright fortnight she developed.
oporupo sobha labonyo ki debi potantoro
......of her exquisite beauty what comparison can I offer?
Jhansi moharaja songote subho bibha somponno
......She was wedded to the King of Jhansi.
Rani Lakshmibai namore khyto hele oi dhamo
......She became known as Rani Lakshmibai
Enter English commentators.
And the prophery did come true, for she married the king of Jhansi and was
named Rani Laxmibai.
Exit English commentors.
One British Lieutenant enters
followed by the nephew speaking of his woes.
sarili sarili bhai sarili sarili mu
.......I am finished oh brother, I am finished
mo manore asha sobu manore morili mu
.......all my hopes are now gone.
bhabhuthili oputrika mole ehi raja je
.......I had thought had the king died without an heir
sinhasone bosi muta marithanti moja je
.......I would have sat on the throne.
budhakale baha hoi rakhiba sontano ei
.......By marrying even at old age, if he begets a child
sukhno podare siya jiba mo sopono hein
.......my dreams will vanish like dry fish in fire.
The nephew cries.
British : Be patient. You don't know what might happen. Be vigilant. We
are with you.
Exit Nephew and the British
Enter King, Queen and Rajguru.
English commentators (off stage)
The Rani Gave birth to a baby boy. Everybody was happy, for now an heir was
born to the throne.
DANCE : KAFIPALLAVI : LAKSHMIBAI WITH BABY
Celebration is cut short at death of child.
English commentary : But the happiness was cut short when the child died.
SONG (from offstage)
Bidhiro bidhano kintu ke kariba ano
......But who can alter the course ofdestiny
matro tinimase mrityu lobhe se sontano
......the child died after three months
sateki podila bojro Jhansiro kopalo
.......a bolt from the blue fell on Jhansi's destiny
ghotigola ondhokaro moharaja bhale
.......darkness fell around the Maharaja
na thile putro sontano ke hoiba raja
.......without a male child, who would be the next kin
bonsho nasho hoba puni ke paliba proja
........lineage will be lost; who will look after the
Enter British and rejoice
DANCE : WALTZ.
Sir Hugh Rose and nephew
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Biradiro kopaloku chham kori sika chhindila
......For the lucky cat the hangar broke with a crash
choturo bideshi boniko dham kori jalo phandila
......the clever foreign traders cast their nets quickly,
paiboni rajogodi bonshodhoro jodi nohibo
.......you won't get the throne if you have no successor
ah, sate sohojore Jhansi amaro hoibo
.......aha! easily Jhansi will be ours
Noise of thunder.
SONG : offstage :
Raj dompoti shoke obhibhuto
..........the royal couple engulfed in sorrow
abori nele eko pushyoputro
..........adopted (to their lap) a son
matro chodoko podila ekale
..........But the blitz fell at an unusual time
svayang raja nije mrityu lobhile
..........The King himself died immediately after.
Enter English commentators
The King adopted a child in the presence of Major Ellis. But as fate had it,
the very next day, the King died before the adoption was approved by Governor
Enter British (British music).
Merrymaking and laughing into a roar, milling around.
Enter Laxmibai in a sorrowful mood. She falls on the ground weeping.
LAXMIBAI'S DANCE :
Doibore dukho pore delu dukho
thrust sorrow after sorrw
Ki papo koricchi muhin obhagini
.......What sin did I commit, an unfortunate person
Chhodalio sobu sukho
stripped of all
kolu putro hora, puni poti hora
........first I lost my son, and then I lost my husband
byartho kolu ei jibono
my life is useless
sonja sokalore ka mukho dekhibi
.........whose face shall I see morning and evening?
kipari bonchibi dino
how shall I spend
ENTER RAJGURU on the
Have patience Rani Lakshmibai
Accept our condolences
You are valorous! Do not be imaptient
If one is born in this mortal world
one has to die one day
who has the ability to defy this law of nature
Your husband? your son? mother, why are you brooding?
Look back, look back once
innumerable subjects with dire sorrow
with perturbed and tearful eyes
are looking up to you in expectation
if foreigners rule what will happen to them?
You are their mother
You are the Shakti, you are Durga, you are the shield.
Laxmibai (Hindi). Dialogue
Laxmibai gets up, inspired.
Mai ma hun? mai ma?
I am a mother?
is rajyaki samasta prajaon ki bharosa mai hum?
I am the anchor
for all my subjects?
is jagatko dikhaungi bharatiya nari ka adarsha
I will proclaim to
the world the ideals of Indian womanhood
griha laxmi, sakti svarupuni
The goddess of
Mahisa mardini, mata bhavani asrita
Killer of Mahisa,
English commentator :
The Goddess Durga
arose in Laxmibai as she resolved to lead her people.
DANCE : She ascends the throne. Celebration.
panoto kanire pochhiluhodharo
............wiping tears with her saree
chhatire chapi koha
her sorrows to her bosom
Rani Laxmibai ghenile sasono
............Rani Laxmibai began her rule
dombho sahoso soho
............with courage and confidence
Enter all the people of Jhansi around Laxmibai & Rajguru.
anondo ullase hasila se Jhansi
Jhansi rejoiced in waves of happiness
asharo toroni dhori
............sailed on boats of hope
matro khyanosthayi parila se rahi
............But this happiness only lasted a moment
Ingrajo nela je hori
............The British stole it away
English narrator (Morgan) :
The British claimed the throne of Jhansi based on Governor General
Dalhousie's doctrine of lapse, lack of natural heir to the throne.
Enter Sir Hugh Rose and his men.
They stop Laxmibai as the people leave except for her confidantes and the
Rajguru, and there is a tussle.
MIME DANCE (Bud).
Choliboni taha cholibani
That will not do!
will not do!
tumoro sasono cholibani
your rule will not
paiboni tume paiboni
You won't get, you
will not get
Jhansiro godi paiboni
the throne of
Jhansi you will not get
Potiboni, Rani potiboni
Won't work, it
will not work
tumo koramota potiboni
your tricks will
rohiboni tume rohiboni
won't stay, you
will not stay
e nogore tume rohiboni
you will not stay
in this city
jorojaro jano joro jaro
you know who has
mulokati hoi thei taro
wins the right
dei diyo bhale dei diyo
So, give it
Jhansi godiku dei diyo
Give the throne of
Laxmibai : (Ratna's monologue) : from the Platform
Nahin, mail Jhansi nahi dungi
No, I will not
give up Jhansi
Voice in the dark
Ingrajo bochono suni, Laxmibai kohe bani
....Hearing the words of the British, Laxmibai retorts
Jhansi rajyo debi nahi bideshi hato
....I will not give Jhansi into foreign hands
Porano debu somore, sesho rokto bindu jaye
We will sacrifice
our lives in battle, until the last drop of blood
kori na paribu amo mostoko noto
We will not bow our heads
dhiko dhiko Ingrajo
Shame on you, British
Obilombe nische jiba tumo pohija
Soon your hypocrisy will be wiped out.
BALLET and British (British music).
Sepoy Mutiny. INDIA"S REBELLION, WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. The British soldiers
and the nephew run helter skelter.
Inquilab Zindabad, Inquilab Zindabad.
Long live the
British birudhe bidrohogni joluthila
revolution against British were brewing
somproti taha bhisono akaro dhorithila dhorithila
Now it has taken a
karagoro bhangi mukti lobhile jete bondi, jete bondi
jails, the freed prisoners
Ingrajonku bodhile khoji golikondi golikondi
killing British, searching lanes
ghotila sipahi bidroho, proja kole meli, kole meli
happened; subjects united
ubhoyo pokhyoru keteje dele atmoboli atmoboli
many on both sides
Ingraj phaujo polai gole nohin raha nohin raha
there was no
alternative for the British but to run
Laxmibairo pashe asi sotru lode saha, lode saha
Coming back to
Laxmibai, the enemy sought her
British run to Laxmibai, appealing to her to take back the state.
English commentator : The British General appeals to the Rani to be the caretaker of the
state while he quells the rebellion.
nio nio moharani
take back your
kingdom, oh maharani
pheraina debo amako ehaku
please return it
magibu jesone puni
when we ask for it
Nati, taunting the British.
dekho dekho he sujone kemonto
look, oh good
bideshi bepari emonto
traders are like this
jaro rajyo taku dei puni kohe
kingdom to its owner
sate ki nijoro jemonto
as if were their own
dhama pono tanko bohuto
have much of
(puni) porodhone bondhu orjito
making friends with others' money
badhyo hoi jebe, rakhi na parucchi
when forced to and
not able to retain
sajuacchi bondhu samonto-dekho dekho
pretending to be a
The British then expel them (exit
Sutradhara and Nati).
tumaku jodi mu aji sahajyo koribi
If I help you now
Jatiyata badinkoro abiswasi hebi
I will be
unfaithful to the nationalists
ontorghati hebi nahin desho matrukoro
I will not be a
traitor to my motherland
prano rokhya payin khoja apaya abara
You look out for
others ways to save your lives
and Sir Huge Rose.
dekhi nebu aame dekhi nebu
we will see to it,
we will see to it
tuma samastinku dekhi nebu
we will see all of
lagai kousholo puni kala bolo
tricks, diplomacy, power
harada ghanare pokaibu
we will put you in
a jigsaw puzzle
Ingirajo ame ingirajo
British, we are
doria pariro ingirajo
across the seas
kaliki paribo amo kala bolo
can you ever
conceive of our tricks
nischoyo tumaku pane debu
definitely we will
teach you a lesson
Exit Sir Hugh Rose.
Laxmibai, Rajguru and others
Ingirajo jidi soto hue Jodi
The obstinacy of
the British, if it is true
moribe oneko deshobasi
many residents of
our country will perish
dasotvo srunkhole bandhibe amaku
will tie us up in
chains of slavery
poka macchi pari debe nasi
and crush us like
pests and files
modo mari mari bethikhotaibe
thrashing us, they
will make us do forced labor
amo dhono sobu luti bohi nebe
they will loot and
carry all our riches
dahoko bikale chahunthibu sina
we will be
watching in despair
mana mahataku sari debe
they will be
trading in our prestige & nobility
dhoromo chhodai murukho bonai
depriving us of
religion, keeping us illiterates
amo dukho dekhi hasuthibe
seeing our sorrows
they will laugh
bela thaun thaun sabodhano hele
if we be careful
nirbhoye rohibe proja sorbe
subjects will live
As the queen contemplated (envisioned/thought of) the results of British
dominion, she resolved to save her people from slavery. She called all her
people to action, including women.
Laxmibai, Rajguru and soldiers.
The clarion call by Laxmibai joined by others one by one. (Queen and all the
dancers, male and female) (Shobha and Palit).
Jagore jagore jagore deshovasi
Rise, rise, rise my country people
bideshi kobolu desho matrukaku,
mukto koribo jagore
rise to free our motherland from
the clutches of foreigners
jagore sromiko, jagore soiniko
rise workers, rise militia
jago deshovasi, jago nagoriko
rise residents of our country,
dhoro ostroshostro, rone dhosi
carrying arms, rush into the
sire bandho aji pagori
wear the turbans on your heads
jago narishokti, nashi ei aroti
rise female power, destroying
samane peshiva agore
janaey jibono, rohu ma mono
telling of life, with firm
sotrunko ghoudo agore
Drive out the enemies first
Enter British lieutenant and nephew.
ki hebe pati korile
.........what's the purpose of shouting ?
sunye kimpa prano jiba, misiba deho matire
.........why you'll lose lives and be turned to dust
dekho dekho dekho bondhu ei adoku dekho
..........look friend, look to this side
pherichhi ingraj dhori oporimito besho
..........the British have returned with limitless strength
pariba nahin yauku
..........you will not be able (to fight)
janitha ei kothaku
..........know these words
kiau micche moriaba
..........why die in vain ?
nian juddhe posiba
..........enter the field of war
shorono magina kari
...........ask for amnesty
rakho jibono natire
...........keep your lives safe
English commentator. The British asked the sepoys to
surrender. But the Rani was adamant- no surrender until death.
Enter Laxmibai and female soldiers.
Laxmibai : nahi kabhi nahin, kabhi nahin.
SONGS & DANCE :
kebe nuhen papi, kebe nuhen
..........never, oh sinner, never
atmo somorpono kebe nuhen
ki bhabhicchu tuhi Bharoto basinku
..........what do you think of the people of India ?
hebe matrughati kebe nuhen
bhiru kapurusho to bideshi
..........you are cowards-you foreigners
dhormo bhoyo nahin abiswasi
..........you do not have fear of religion, traitors
moronoro bhoyo dekhai ambhauku
..........with threats of fear of death, us
jinibu ei rajyo kebe nuhen
..........our kingdom, you will conquer, never
shesho rokto bindu thiba jaye
..........To the last drop of blood
lodhibu ei kotha mone thaye
..........we will fight, know it
jono prano rohu mono ehi montro
..........let life perish, but let coviction remain; our
Jhansi chhdibu, kebe nuhen
..........Leave jhansi, never.
Indian Soldiers fight British
Drum and fight scenes.
One British soldier reporting to Sir Hugh Rose :
toba toba jaha mu dekhili arey baba
My God, what did I
kano uthila dinu
From the day I had
ankhi kholia dinu
from the day my
sunini dekhini ey probha
I have not seen or
heard of such halo
ashva prishthe nari
A lady on
dante rojjuku dhori
the reins between
swords in both
like the heaven's
ranara badhhauchhi shobha
bhobani namo dhori
chanting the name
nari saina dhori
leading a female
amo sainyoku gheri
delani kete mari
she has killed
monthono kore juddho sobha
she has crushed
the council of war
auh kisa kohibi
what else can I
ki kotha bakhavibi
what words can I
jaha koribo koro
do as you please
to prevent her
ase mukulo kari gabha
Here she comes
with her hair flying
Sir Hugh Rose with nephew behind him.
Sir Hugh Rose's dialogue :
You, the women of India, great is your unmatched fearlessness. For the glory
of your motherland you fight undaunted. I salute your immortal ideals. But
this is war. And do or die is the only reality. So, here we come.
Indian soldiers, Rajguru, British soldiers, Nephew.
She falls as a bullet is fired.
Laxmibai : (dialogue)
ah! mera desavasi, ladho, chodo nahin yuh yudhakshetra
my country people, fight, don't abandon the battlefield.
ungrej surya ab dubhega
the British sun will now set
mai ja rahi hum
I am leaving
ah jai bhavani, jai Bharat mata
Victory to Bhavani; victory to Bharata mother
British close in on the dead body
of Laxmibai. All bow together.
Offstage : song :
projvolita kori lokhyo prodipo
............lighting one hundred thousand candles
udai gourobo bano
............fluettering the banner of glory
libila mahiru moha dipa sikha
............A great flame in the universe blew out
Rani Jhansibai sina
............It was Rani Laxmibai
English commentary: And thus lived and died the great
soul, Rani Laxmibai.
Curtain call. All go around wishing
goodbye to the spectators.
OM, SHANTI, SHANTI, SHANTI
Sarbe Bhavantu Sukhina
Sarbe Syantu Niramaya
Sarbe Bhadrani Pashyantu
Ma Kaschit Dukkha Bhaga Bhabet
OM SHANTI, SHANTI, SHANTI
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