Four-day State-level puppetry festival being hosted by Akademi

Twelve troupes representing puppetry traditions participating

BHUBANESWAR: Prahlad Natak, three-centuries-old endangered and exclusive folk theatre of Orissa’s Ganjam district, has found a saviour in the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), New Delhi, apex body of the nation for performing arts. SNA would soon implement a special project for conservation and promotion of Prahlad Natak, announced SNA’s deputy secretary Kiran Bhatnagar, who is here for the four-day State-level puppetry festival being hosted by the Akademi in association with Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi.

“SNA has a special concern for conservation and promotion of Orissa’s rich culture, its theatre arts in particular. In 2006 we hosted Rang Sangam theatre festival for eastern Indian states in Bhubaneswar followed by Ranga Prativa theatre festival for young theatre directors of Orissa in 2007. We decided to host this puppetry festival here this year to bring Orissa’s rich puppetry tradition to limelight,” said Mr. Bhatnagar.

Special shows

Twelve troupes representing the four puppetry traditions – rod, shadow, glove and string - from different parts of the State are participating in this festival that also includes daily seminars and special shows for school children.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the festival at Jayadev Bhawan on Monday evening, former secretary of the SNA and well-known puppetry scholar

Usha Malik said Orissa was the lone State in the country to have all the four styles of puppetry.

The State must come forward to patronise these ancient and dying arts practices, she said and opined that puppetry had to be made economically viable and attractive for the new generation. SNA had mooted a series of puppetry festivals across the country, she said and added that while the first of the series for Andhra Pradesh was held in Warangal, Orissa puppetry festival is the second in the series.

Orissa’s Culture Minister S.N. Patro and Commissioner of Culture B.C. Jena also spoke. Revival of the dying arts traditions had been the thrust of the government, said Mr. Jena. Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi secretary Manmath Nath Satpathy also spoke.

Besides several puppetry experts and scholars of the State, three puppetry experts of the nation – Puran Bhatt (Rajashtan), Keshav Swamy (Puducherry) and Ranjana Pandey (New Delhi) – are attending the festival as observers.