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Ravan Dahan in progress as a part of Ramleela finale

Ramleela is one of the most widely performed traditional art forms of north India. It is celebrated with much zeal and fervour in Uttar Pradesh and adjoining areas like Delhi, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and some other states as well. For Delhi, it is one of the biggest attractions and gains lot of media attention with televised Ramleela on the final day of Dussehra celebrations.

As literal in its name, it depicts the ‘leelas’ of Ram, which means a portrayal of Lord Ram’s life. The story is known to almost all of us as it is not only religious but also a part of India’s culture. The story is derived from Tulsidas’ Ram Charit Manas as well as Valmiki’s Ramayan.

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A performance of Yakshagaan in progress

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.

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Image: saatchiart.com

Chhau is one of the unique type of performing arts from the Indian traditional theatre where dance and martial arts are used to tell various mythological stories. It is unique in the sense that it is the only art form in the world that uses wooden or earthen masks to depict the characters, not only by face, but also in performance choreography.

The art form originated from the tribal regions of eastern India and has three different schools of performances. The three types of Chhau are from the three regions of Orissa, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. They are known after the names of their regions: Mayurbhanj (Orissa), Saraikela (Jharkhand), Purulia (West Bengal).

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