Friday, December 3, 2021



Harikatha may be defined as a versatile and a composite art in which a single person indulges in the act of dramatization, consisting all the vital components of the theatre craft such as music, dance and dramatic presentation of the themes.

Harikatha, is a solo recitation which is a combination of literature and lilting lyrics which reflects rich musical and literary material in its content. Harikatha is known in one form or the other with different names like Katha, Katha Keerthan, Shiva Katha, Katha Kalashepam, Kathaprasangam keertan and Sankeertan etc in the country.

The present form of Harikatha is believed to be 150 years old and existed even during the early sixteenth century. Most of the religious festivals and special occasions are marked by 'Harikatha programmes'. The medium of Harikatha is the cheapest and the simplest mode of communication. It is a theatre craft which does not require a stage, set, scenery, costumes and other paraphernalia.

The Harikatha artiste is accompanied by two or more members and wears a simple, casual dress. The principal performer is the chief singer narrator of the story  and is called Dassa or Keertankar. He is accompanied by few artistes in background  to give him vocal support. Musical  instruments like the mridanga, the tabala, the violin, the harmonium and the cymbals are  played by them while the Keertankar plays castanets (a two part chinking instrument made of wood).

One of its important characteristics is that it enables the artiste to alter the message according to the mood of the audience and in the process of face to face communication, gauge the impact of the message on them. If the impact is adverse, he is free to change or disband the course through smooth switch-over to the old stories.

The other characteristic is its secular nature. It should be clearly said 'Harikatha' is non-ritualistic and may be staged on any occasion, religious or social. The theme is varied but it is usually centered on spiritual values and stories from Epics like Ramayana and the Mahabharata and Puranas or the Bible.