UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day - Kathak

Kathak is a prominent ancient Indian classical dance and is thought to have started from the wandering bards of North India known as Kathakars, meaning storytellers. These Kathakars traveled and conveyed stories by means of music, dance and songs akin to the early Greek theater.

The class created amid the Bhakti development, the pattern of mystical commitment which advanced in medieval Hinduism. The Kathakars convey stories through rhythmic foot movements, hand gestures, facial appearances and eye work. This performing workmanship that consolidates legends from antiquated folklore and awesome Indian stories, particularly from the life of Lord Krishna turned out to be very famous in the courts of North Indian kingdoms. Three particular types of this sort is three gharanas (schools), which generally vary in accentuation given to footwork as opposed to acting, are more acclaimed in particular, the Jaipur gharana, the Benaras gharana and the Lucknow gharana.

History and Evolution

The foundations of Kathak are rooted in Natya Shastra, an ancient Sanskrit text written by Bharata Muni.


The three chief sections of a Kathak dance are:

Invocation: where the artist offers his/her prayer or salutation to his/her guru and to god. In case of Hindu performances, the artist uses mudras (hand gestures) for the same. For Muslim occasions, the artist gives a ‘salami’.

Nritta: pure dance portrayed by the artist. He/she starts with slow and graceful movements of the neck, wrists and eyebrows. This is followed by fast sequences according to ‘bols’. A bol is a short sequence of rhythmic pattern. Here the artist displays energetic footwork also.

Nritya: here the artist showcases a story or theme through gestures, expressions and slow body movements accompanied by vocal and instrumental music.

As Kathak is prevalent both in Hindu and Muslim people group the outfits of this move frame are made in accordance with customs of the separate groups.

Instruments and Music

A Kathak execution may incorporate twelve traditional instruments depending more on the impact and profundity required for a specific execution. However a few instruments are commonly utilized as a part of a Kathak execution like the tabla that blend well with the musical foot developments of the artist and regularly emulates sound of such footwork developments or the other way around to make a splendid jugalbandi. A manjira that is hand cymbals and sarangi or harmonium are additionally utilized frequently.

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