Man`s faith in God and theater performances are interlinked. Art and literature have taken the present shapes as man has been nourishing them from the beginning. In India, art is exhibited through musical instruments , vedic chants, songs, dance forms, etc. All have their origin in man's deep faith in God. As drama is a compound art, all art forms are used in theater.
All our theatre performances, musical concerts, dance programs, begin with an invocation. Ashthavadhana seve. Is performed in all temples. In Ashthavadhana seve all art forms are performed, only to please the deity. It is an art for God sake. This ritual has been the root cause for the growth and development of all art forms. These are named as ritual theatre.
Bharatha Natyam, Kudiyattam of Kerala, Sattriya dance of Assam, Harikathe,Yakshagana, Chhau ( a folk theatre of West Bengal) Ramalila of Benarus, all are the art forms born out of deep faith in God and performed as rituals in temples, hence they are the forms of ritual theatre.
Kashi Yatre, Vara Pooje are the two supreme examples of ritual where the father of the bride stops the bridegroom from going on a pilgrimage. He offers his daughter. Some priests make it a theatre performance through dialogues. Even in rural areas, people have been practicing such rituals.
Sandhanotsava is one ritual it is performed in many temples after Rathotsava .Here, one priest speaks as Parvathi and other one speaks as Lord Shiva. In Sandhanotsava dialogues between the two priests continue for an hour.
Ritual and theatre are interlinked. In the past too, theatre performance was used to communicate with Gods. Greek theatre performances were dedicated to the divine Athena, a Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare. These practices are very old; probably they came into existence even before man started speaking. Therefore, theatre is not real. It is a game, a game of duplicity. Is it not a drama, when the bride groom shows the Arundati star in the broad daylight?.
Sattriya, or Sattriya Nritya, is originated in the eastern state of Assam. It is a dance-drama performance art with origins in the Krishna-centered Vaishnavism monasteries of Assam, and attributed to the 15th century Bhakti movement scholar and saint Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev.
In South Karnataka, Yaksahgana Harake Aata is common. From the beginning we have been practicing rituals and practices tagged with our deep faith in God. All musicians, dramatists, actors developed their art in front of their Lord. So art and ritual are inseparable.
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