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Bhand In Hinduism – Buffon Or A Mimic – Bhanda

Bhand or Karyalchi or Bhanda is an actor, dancer, acrobat and singer, gifted with imagination and a poetic tongue who plays different roles. The Bhanda pather of Kashmir and the kariyala of Himachal Pradesh are two living examples. Both these folk forms are so thoroughly influenced by the Sanskrit drama what they can be considered distorted formats of classical drama as enunciated by Bharata Muni.

As a concept and tool of theater, it is derived from classical drama, whose impact is clearly visible in the folk theater of the north-west region.

Magun, the pivot of the bhanda-pather is, in fact, a mahaguni, the sutradhara (a thread holder, stage manager) of classical drama. The presence of the jester in the both folk formats owes its existence to the vidushaka of Sanskrit drama. Benediction to Hindu gods, the opening scene of these folk formats is again directly derived from Sanskrit drama. The obeisance to properties musical instruments, places of performance and surroundings also exhibit the impact of the Sanskrit drama on the folk drama.

The bhandas or karyalchis, who enact the bhanda pather or kariyala, improvise a situation on the spot. In the kariyala style, a gosain is projected as a heavenly being and his utterances are compared to those of gods. On the contrary, in the bhanda pather, a gosainis more lampooned that praised and is also shown as attracting the village girl who ultimately accompanies him.

From the 12th century CE onwards, peasants used the bhanda-pather as a vehicle of communication with the people against a succession of rulers and regions. For such communication, it introduced a code language. Known as phir kath, the code language enabled the bhandas to communicate with people even in the presence of court officials.

The bhandas fought back the atrocities of the Muslim Sultans, Chaks, Mughals, Afghans, the Sikh rulers and the Dogras. Though some of them converted to Islam, they have retained several Hindu customs, traditions, beliefs and costumes. The bhandas of Akingam still light a flame at the Akingam temple.

Hajari Bhandas of Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, is renowned in the nearby courts, villages and towns of Mewar for his skill as a bahurupiya – a wandering mimic performing mostly comic routines, assuming twenty different disguises. The bhandas play the roles of a vast assortment of gods and goddesses, tradesman and rogues, noblemen and holy men, professionals and tribals, beggars and fools.