Harikatha: traditional art of story-telling in South India

Harikatha, a traditional art story-telling was in news for its revival due to patronage from various cultural organisation.
Harikatha is a form of Hindu religious discourse in which the storyteller explores a religious theme, usually based on the life of a saint or a story from an Indian epic.
What is Harikatha?

  • Harikatha is an art form composed of storytelling, music, drama, dance, poetry, and philosophy in South India especially in villages of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • It had originated from Ajjada village of Srikakulam in Coastal Andhra. Its aim is to imbue truth and righteousness in the minds of people and sow the seeds of devotion in them.
  • It also aims to educate people about knowledge of atman (self) through stories and show them the path of liberation.
  • Harikatha at its peak was a popular medium of entertainment, which had helped to transmit cultural, educational and religious values to the masses.

Style of Harikatha

  • Harikatha involves the narration of a story, intermingled with various songs relating to the story. The subject for the Harikatha story may be any Hindu religious theme.
  • Usually the narration of story involves numerous sub-plots and anecdotes, which are used to emphasise various aspects of the main story.
  • The main story teller is usually assisted by one or more co-singers, who elaborate the songs and Mridangam accompanist. The storyteller uses a pair of cymbals to keep beat.




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