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All the parts of India have its own culture and traditions and have different performing arts. The Indian traditional theatre has preserved the identity, uniqueness as well as the history of the area. These art forms, from whichever area they belong to, have evolved with the times yet are deeply rooted in their past.
Generally they have survived due to their deliverance of values and newness of presentation to the society. They still exist because they have too much to tell to the society. The current generation, as well as governments in respective states, has revived these art forms which were losing their sheen two decades ago.
It is an indispensible part of societal structure. People draw inspiration from local heroes to the folklore and culture-specific stories to present them in a region’s known style of theatre.
Yakshgaan, Ankia Naat, Bhaona, Chhau, Turra Kalangi, Nautanki, Ram Leela, Aalha Udal, Raas Leela are all different styles of taditional theatre in India and they belong to different parts.
Local weather and season along with the culture and tradition prepare the base for traditional theatre. For example the ‘Bhangra’ dance form from Punjab has old actions and movements as it experiences better climate than Kashmir where ‘Bhand Pather’ has very limited movements due to the severe cold conditions.
Local heroes have enriched the traditional theatre. Heroic stories from past are presented with dance and music to the audience today. It not only reminds them of a glory but preserves the art form as well. The traditional theatres have evolved from the historical times, be it oral tradition of storytelling, written texts, mythologies or legends.
Stories they tell
The base of the traditional theatre is the stories they tell. Folktales, stories from epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas are prevalent but at the same time stories of local heroes and legends are also performed. Nowadays, modern day elements as well as achievements of Indians are also added as part of story to pay respect to them. One can easily spot the Mangalyaan, Chandrayaan, Kalpana Chawal and many other heroes from our past being presented on stage, in temples and mandaps across the nation.
The beauty and uniqueness of the traditional art form is they remain local in all aspects. Be it musical instruments, the songs, language or the materials used for stage, it is always the local-made and socially produced.
The stage is made of local and easily available things like bamboo sticks, planks, wooden cots etc. There are no closed spaces as in modern day proscenium theatre. The stage is made out in open area, be it inside temple premises or in a ground. All the decorations are indigenous and are prepared from natural product. The lighting aspect is not much sophisticated. It just solves the purpose of visibility and does not have much to do with ‘effects’ as such.
Make-up and costumes
The make-up of the artistes are very much rustic and earthen. Only natural and local things are used for makeup. Costumes are chosen as per the requirement of the characters. The colours of the costumes are generally gay and bright in the traditional theatre. Use of red, yellow, green can be observed almost everywhere in all the art or dance forms.
As the art form is traditional, the make rustic, and the music indigenous, the presentation is often dramatic, musical, poetic, and rustic. It carries a smell of the soil. However, the performance (of some art forms along with its preparation) can be highly codified as in strict classical sense, following Bharat Muni’s ‘Natya Shastra’ and its guidelines on stage structure, audience sitting arrangement etc.
At the same time, it can be very loose and semi classical in approach. The performers follow a routine and try to bring newness to the already known stories. As the story is generally known to the audience in traditional theatre so the innovation becomes very essential in presentation. The performance generally starts in nights and goes on till the dawn. There are no time limits and it is highly flexible.
The traditional theatre of India enjoys all the three kinds of patronage: Lokashray, which means dependent on people; Devashray or dependent on temples for funds; Rajyaashray which means the state gives grants to the art form and is the provider.
Different areas have survived on different patronage. Some places have survived without any help from the temple or state and people have kept the art form alive. Purulia Chhau is an example where the performance is ritualistic and rustic because it is performed in a destitute society with no funding from state or temples. At the same time, another variant of Chhau, Saraikela Chhau, is supported by the elite class of the region.
The language used in the performance has to be from the local area. It can’t even be a language rather a dialect of the village. The director adopts the script in the local dialect and artistes perform it in their mother tongue. Language is of the people and for the people. A single language or dialect prevails throughout the play.
The instruments used to create and perform music are local. Music is indispensible from any theatre form. Some of the instruments that are prevalent are: bansuri, manjira, idakkya, chendu, jhanjh, dhamsa, dholak, harmonium, veena, dafli, tabla among many others. The music can be classical or semi classical.
Generally the instrument are region specific and indigenous to that particular area. One interesting bit is the Harmonium, an instrument modified in India from the piano and other smaller versions of it, is integral to almost all the regional traditional theatres in India.
Actors are always from the village or locality itself. They do all their work in the day and rehearse in the evenings or during a decided time. Normally, the same person does the same part every year till the village or he himself decides to retire from it.
The audience and the actors, normally males even form female roles, are highly bound to each other. If the performer is getting loose at some place, the elder or the person who knows the art can point the mistakes out and correct the during the performance itself.
We mustn’t forget our traditions. These art forms have carried on our collective values and way of life since they took shape. They remind us of the inspirational people and stories which inspire us to achieve more and become ideal human beings.
Nowadays, government is making efforts to make people understand the policies and schemes through the traditional theatre. These art forms are used to educate people on various topics, issues of social importance. One can spot integration of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’, ‘Beti Padhao’, ‘Sarva Shikha Abhiyaan’ etc during Ram Leelas and nautanki.
The advantage with these art forms is that one can easily make the audience understand what he/she wants to convey. These are easily associable and identifiable with almost all the people as all of us have either watched these performances or listened stories from our parents and grandparents.
Nowadays even advertisers are using these traditional art forms to put their views across. The message reaches to the audience in simpler ways and conveniently than from a TV set or radio. The reason is that these art forms are in their own language and the audience feel themselves to be a part of that larger picture.
With many scholars and government institutions pumping money and mind, the traditional theatre can only go ahead. It not only solves the aforesaid purpose but also takes us close to our roots and asks us to be more responsible towards our fellow beings and society as a whole.
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City