(Last Updated on : 21/07/2009)
Bandi Nata centers on the sacrifice done by Bandi for the sake of the love Krishna and Radha. A simple drum called dhol provides the music. Although a stage is setup, the actors often mingle with the audience while performing the play. The literal meaning of this play is 'widow dance'. This is an adjunct of Danda Nata prevalent among lower caste Hindus and tribal in Dhenkanal district and some parts of Sambalpur, Sundargarh, and Balangir in northwestern Orissa. It takes its name from Bandi, which locally means 'widow', since the central character is Kutila, the widowed sister of Chandrasena, husband of Radha. Kutila plays a villainous role in the immortal love story of Radha and Krishna, but her unflinching devotion to and sacrifice for Krishna are given importance. Although Bandi Nata is Vaishnava to the core, the invocation is dedicated to Siva and his consort Parvati, who also appear as figures at the beginning.
There are three main characters. The names can be mentioned as Kutila, Radha, and Krishna. Each sings a stanza, cast in the form of dialogue, and then dances to the accompaniment of a huge dhol and the wind instrument, mahuri. The refrains are repeated by a band of chorus singers, who occupy one side of the temporary covered structure. The drummer, dhol hung round his neck, controls the whole performance. Often the drummer shouts the beats and dances with the actors. The dramatic form is largely influenced by Danda Nata. Bandi Nata is not a written text. Still in the oral tradition, it passes from one group to another. Action and humour are freely mixed with the dances and songs to keep spectators entertained. The technique is essentially folk, both in dance and music, though traditional tunes have been inserted of late.
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