The centuries-old art form of string puppetry is slowly dying and a few practitioners of the form blame lack of patronage by government and non-governmental organisations for its decline.

Now, a handful of puppeteers from a remote village in Kendrapara district have taken an initiative to revive the ancient art, locally known as ‘Sakhi Kundhei’.

There is a village in the district called Palakana, where the art form is still alive, and the artistes perform live shows in the surrounding villages and even afar.

A researcher of puppetry Basudeb Das, says: “It’s a tough battle to keep the art alive when more attractive means of entertainment are bombarded round the clock on the electronic media.”

“So, the question is how long these handful of artistes will be able to carry on the ancient traditional art to future generations,” says Mr. Das.

Tales from ‘puranas’

In the shows, wooden dolls attached to strings narrate tales from the ‘puranas’ and even modern social dramas to the accompaniment of music and background voice.

Fakir Singh, a 62-year-old string puppeteer from Palakana, says there are some people who still enjoy the shows.

“I carve out wooden puppets on orders received from puppet show operators. The dolls made by me fetch money, in addition to what I earn by staging the shows,” he says. — PTI

A few practitioners of string puppetry attribute it to lack of patronage by government and non-government organisations