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  • 07 Dec 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Heritage & Culture

    Day 25

    Question 1. Discuss any two famous ritual theatres and also discuss the reasons behind the decline in the popularity of conventional theatres in India.

    Question 2. Discuss the various types of puppetries with examples and discuss their significance. (150 Words)

    Answer 1


    • Start your answer by giving a brief about Theatres in India.
    • Discuss any two famous Ritual Theatres of India.
    • Discuss the reasons for the decline of Theatre culture in India.
    • Conclude suitably.


    India boasts of a rich tradition of folk theatre in various parts of India. The traditional folk theatre reflects the various aspects of the local lifestyle including social norms, beliefs and customs. While the Sanskrit theatre was more urban-oriented and sophisticated in its treatment of the play, the folk theatre had rural roots and the rustic flavour was reflected in the dramatic style involved.

    Most of the folk theatres that still exist, emerged in the period around 15th – 16th century A.D. with devotional themes. However, with time it started adopting love ballads and accounts of local heroes and thus adopted more secular tones. In the independence period, the folk theatre became a popular method of dissemination of social wisdom than mere social entertainment.


    The two famous ritual theatre of India are as follows:

    Ankia Nat

    It is the traditional one-act play of Assam. It was started by the famous Vaishnava Saint Shankaradeva and his disciple Mahadeva in the 16th century A.D. It is performed in the style of an opera and depicts incidents from the life of Krishna. The Sutradhar or narrator is accompanied by a group of musicians known as Gayan-Bayan Mandali who play the ‘khol’ and cymbals. One of the unique features of this form of theatre is the use of masks to depict special expressions.


    Kala is an ancient folk theatre of the Vaishanvite tradition. It is mainly based on the lifes and incarnations of Vishnu. Some of the popular branches of Kala are Dashavatar Kala, Gopal Kala and Gaulan Kala.

    Reasons behind the decline the Popularity of the Theatres

    Change in the Audience: The audience has evolved with the time but the theatres still continue with their old themes and styles has led to loss of popularity of the theatres among the people.

    Electronic Media: The electronic media also posed a threat to the folk culture and theatre as people prefer watching television than going out to watch plays.

    Low Monetary Gain: Most of the actors and actresses involved in the theater have low-income opportunities, which discourages them from joining.


    The govt. Should incentivise artists involved in the theatre activities to make it easy for them to earn a living and it should increase the awareness regarding theatre amongst the common people.

    Answer 2


    • Start your answer by giving a brief about Puppetry.
    • Discuss the types of Puppetries with examples.
    • Conclude suitably.


    Puppetry has long been of interest in India, both for entertainment and educational purposes. The excavation sites at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro have yielded puppets with sockets attached to them, which suggest the presence of puppetry as an art form. Some references of marionette theatre have been found in the period around 500 B.C. However, the oldest written reference to puppetry is found in the Tamil classic Silappadikaram, written around the 1st and 2nd century B.C.


    Puppetry in India can be broadly classified into four categories. A brief outline of each with some prominent examples are given as follows:

    String puppets or marionettes have a prominent presence in the Indian cultural traditions. The features of string puppets are: The puppets are generally 8–9-inch miniature figures chiselled out of wood. Strings are attached to small holes in the hands, head and back of the body which are then controlled by the puppeteer. Examples: Gombeyatta , Kathputli, Kundhei, Bommalattam, etc.

    Shadow Puppetry: India has a rich tradition in shadow puppetry, which has survived till now. Some of the features of shadow puppetry are: Shadow puppets are flat figures cut out of leather. The figures are painted identically on both sides of the leather. The puppets are placed on a white screen with light falling from behind, creating a shadow on the screen.

    The figures are manipulated so that the silhouettes created on the blank screen create telling imagery. Examples - Togalu Gombeyatta, Ravanchhaya, Tholu Bommalata etc.

    Glove puppets: They are also known as sleeve, hand or palm puppets. They are small figures with heads and arms wearing a long, flowing skirt as costume. The puppets are generally made of cloth or wood, but some variations of paper puppet have also been seen. The puppeteer wears the puppet as a glove, manipulating the head with his index finger. Example - Pavakoothu.

    Rod puppets are larger variations of glove puppets and are controlled by rods by the puppeteer from behind a screen. It is mainly popular in the region of Eastern India. Some of the popular examples are Yampuri, Putul Naach, etc.

    Significance of Puppetry

    • Cultural Value: It is Representative of the local Culture of the people which they kept preserved for generations.
    • Entertainment: They are a source of amusement for the flung remote regions of India.
    • Education: Using puppetry in education can make handling tough topics with adults or children less intimidating.
    • Psychological: puppets are sometimes used as a way to boost confidence in extremely shy individuals so they can speak out and eventually integrate into society without the puppet.
    • Socio-religious Impact: The puppeteers with their use in street plays highlight the social and political issues in society. India boasts of a rich tradition of folk theatre in its various parts.


    Considering the benefits of Puppetry, it should be encouraged by giving incentives to the artists involved in the art of puppetry as it helps in keeping our local culture alive.

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