(c) Centre for Cultural Resources and Training
1. This is one of the very few surviving traditional performing arts prevalent in Eastern India.
2. Ankiya Nat sinks all differences between religious ritual and aesthetic activity.
3. Ankiya Nat once enjoyed high patronage from different levels but today it is a victim of indifference. It is necessary to arrest this decay.
Eastern part of India, Assam
Music, Dance, Theatre
To a casual onlooker, who cannot go beyond the periphery, Ankiya Nat may appear only as a form of ritual theatre. Sensitive theatergoers, however, will find that it touches those aesthetic heights from which religiosity and secularity do not look antithetical.
No less than a genius can conceive of a theatre that sinks all differences between religious ritual and aesthetic activity, and then makes the disciplined sublimity of classical arts and the emotional immediacy of folk arts walk together hand in hand. Such a form of theatre is Ankiya Nat and Shankaradeva is the genius who conceived and shaped it towards the second decade of the 16th century. He was a saint-aesthetic, subscribing to Vaishanavism but with a difference.
The elements drawn from the folk forms of music, dance and drama not only broadened the range of appeal, but gave Ankiya Nat its unmistakable Assamese character. Amongst folk forms which influenced him most are Ojhapali, a fascinating form combining elements of balladry, dance and drama: Dhulia, a form of group singing and dancing, Bhaoria, balladry, and Putlanach, the traditional marionette theatre of Assam. The fusion of all these diverse elements and influences to mould a powerful dramatic alloy surely required a sensitivity which Shankaradeva had.
The bhawna, that is, the performance of Ankiya Nat, traditionally takes place in a specially constructed theatre hall called rabha or bhawna-ghar. If such a pandal is not there, then one is improvised, or it is performed under a canopied enclosure. The performance is presented at the centre of the hall and spectators sit on all four sides.
More information - in form of video film
Film, High Band (U-matic), CCRT documentation department, 1999
1. Center for Cultural Resources and Training, New Delhi.
2. Sangeet Natya Academy, New Delhi.
3. Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, New Delhi.
Mr. Surendra Kaul
Centre for Cultural Resources and Training
Address: Bahawalpur House, Bhagwandas Road,
New Delhi - 110001, India