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Manbhatt Tradition In Hinduism

Manbhatt, or Manabhatta, is a preacher telling stories from Hindu holy books by playing metal pitcher for rhythmic accompaniment. Mana is a big metallic pot. The shape of the mana is narrow at the mouth and broad at the center. The mouth of the mana remains open, so the knocking on its outer surface produces a thick and deep sound. The mana made of clay was in use at one time. Then it was replaced by copper. Vallabh Vyasa was a Manbhatt who used to recite stories from the Shastras along with the music of the mana. The tradition of Manbhatt is perhaps an exclusive feature of Gujarat.

A Manbhatt is normally from the Brahmin community. His head is covered with a cloth or a turban with golden thread. The costume of a Manbhatt includes a white long robe, a white dhoti, beads round the neck, and a cloth on the shoulder. He walks without shoes and sits on a stage at a lower height. He wears rings on his fingers to play upon the mana. He is accompanied by some other instrumentalists as well.

Vallabh Vyasa was one of the most famous Manbhatts. Thousands of people use to gather at his Mahabharata-Katha. Lalluram Bapuram Oza was another renowned Manbhatt. Cunilal Govindram Pandya was his disciple. His son Dharmiklal Pandya is an equally famous Manbhatt from Vadodara. Perhaps he is the only living exponent of the traditional art of Manabhatt. He has been training his son to continue the tradition.

People offer rice, pulses, flour, cloth, shawls and cash to the Manbhatt. In the past, the manabhatta used to enjoy great respect among the devout.

Dharmiklal Pandya has been conducting classes at Mana Akhyan Kal Shikshan Kendra at Vadodara for the younger generation to continue this traditional art.