PRAHALLAD NATAK FULL, BDPUR, GANJAM

27 Apr 2013 40:28 10
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At last count, over 50 troupes in the Ganjam Province of Orissa, India, perform the Prahlada Nataka - The Play of Prahlada. Emigh's talk will describe how this genre moved from court to town to village during the late 19th and early 20th centuries

The enactment of the Story of Prahalada Natak is divided into three parts. The first is a prelude of instrumental music and devotional songs (Poorva Ranga), appearance and dance of Lord Ganesha (the remover of obstacles), entry of Dwari (gate keeper) who warns the audience of the impending arrival of the Demon King Hiranya, appearance of Hiranyakashipu himself, appearance of his wife, Queen Leelavati, and of their son Prahlada (Prahallada), performed by a pre-adolescent boy who sings the glory of Lord Vishnu or Hari. Hiranya has acquired a boon that he cannot be killed by either man or animal.

In the second part, Hiranyakashipu demands Prahlada to stop praising Vishnu. He deploys gurus to teach him about the worship of Lord Siva. Prahlada's unflinching faith in Vishnu and his will-power frustrate the King psychologically. He decides to punish his son.

The action-packed third part features the Demon King's designs to punish, and finally, kill his son through thirteen varieties of danda (physical punishments). In the condensed Festival performance only two varieties will be acted out. Leelavati tries in futile to intervene on behalf of her son, requesting her husband through songs and lamentations not to be so stern and wicked. Prahlada remains protected by his faith and survives all punishments. Finally, the masked figure of Vishnu in the form of a half-man, half-lion (neither man nor animal) bursts out of a pillar, takes on Hiranya in a duel and rips out his intestines.

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