Puppets bring alive Vivekananda's life, times

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) in collaboration with Ramakrishna Mission recently showcased a puppet show on the life of Swami Vivekananda - spiritual leader and philosopher who conquered the entire world with his life and message.

This was the first time in India that the English version of the puppet show, by Udaipur’s famed Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal, was staged. It was an educative progra-mme for hundreds of children who visited the Rama-krishna Mission Ashram auditorium along with their parents who found it equally enjoyable. 

Last year, on the occasion of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal had produced the puppet show in Hindi. This show has travelled to around 200 centres in the North, Northeast and Western India.

Commenting on the English version now, IGNCA member secretary, Dipali Khanna said, “Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th century managed to spread his thoughts on spiritualism globally which over the years has inspired many generations. Hence, it is essential that his preaching continues to reach out to newer sets of followers. We aim to reach out to a wider variety of audience to communicate his
remarkable and stellar journey through this show.”

Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal designed the programme as a running story featuring episodes from the Swami’s life. A small boy Narendra is busy playing games on his laptop and his mother complains that he has got no qualities of the person his name is inspired from. Here begins the legend of Swami Viveka-nanda, who was also fondly called Narendra.

His childhood, when he demonstrated extraordinary qualities of courage and conviction; his youth, when he renounced family life in the quest for knowledge; and his later life, when he travelled the world over spreading the message of oneness of all religions, was beautifully demonstrated through puppetry.

The audio-visual effects added further charm to the production.The chief guest of the even-ing, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Shripad Yasso Naik observed, “Puppetry is a very ancient form of expression which has been practised in India for over 3,000 years.

Over time, the art has been reinvented keeping in mind prevailing contemporary issues. Swami Vivekananda revitalised Hinduism in and outside India and was the principal reason for the enthusiastic reception of yoga, transcendental meditation and other forms of Indian spiritual empowerment in the West. I’m glad to see such eloquent expression of his life through puppetry today.”

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