Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an Assam-based trust the opportunity to focus on a near-forgotten form of string puppetry called Putola Nach.
About Putola Nach:
- It is a traditional string puppet theatre from Assam in north-east India.
- Putala nach (putal, doll, and nach, dance) remains popular in Assam whereas other forms of puppetry and shadow theatre have disappeared.
- The Ramayana, either in its entirety or by episodes, is performed, as well as scenes from the Mahabharata.
- The puppeteers are happy to add dialogues or chants taken from bhaona, the local traditional theatre.
- In this regard, some traditional performances include contemporary educational themes such as the fight against deforestation or family planning messages.
- The sculpted form of the puppets, their costumes and manipulation vary according to regional style.
- The putala nach is also called putala bhaona due to its ancient link (16th century) with bhaona theatre.
- Assam’s string puppetry had three distinct styles based on the area performed. These areas were Barpeta-Nalbari in western Assam, Kalaigaon in northern Assam and Majuli “island” in eastern Assam.