How the ancient indigenous military / war systems have influenced the development of performing arts such as dance, drama and theatre in India? Discuss with appropriate examples.

Published: September 22, 2017

One of the most important features of Indian performing arts is that many of them have developed from ancient indigenous military or war systems or techniques. The most striking example of this is Kalariyapattu, a martial art from Kerala. It has influenced some of the traditional Indian dances and even today some schools in south India incorporate kalaripayattu as part of their exercise regimen. This martial has influenced Kathakali. Similarly, the Velakali art combined elements of Kalaripayattu to depict ancient battle scenes from the epic Mahabharata.  Aother example is Chhau dance which is a rare mask dance which had its origins in Orissa. Chhau dance involves martial arts, acrobatics and athletics. Chhau derived from the martial art of sword and shield play. Silambam is yet another example of a fight dance. Mudiyettu, the oldest stylized theatre tradition in Kerala, is a mythological battle between goddess Kali and demon Darika. It shows the various tactics involved in battle.
Most of the street plays in Southern India are based on the themes of battles like Kurukshetra.  Not only Indian arts, most of the South Asian arts in one way or other related to military or war tactics and martial arts of ancient days.

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