World Puppetry Day

Puppetry is a theatre performance that involves controlling of puppets, which resemble a human or animal figure, animated o by a human called a puppeteer.

Puppetry is a traditional form of folk entertainment in India. Puppeteers are story tellers who contemporize the story to the situation. The themes of a Puppetry is based on the ancient stories, from the Purana, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other local legends. A Puppetry theatre encompasses creative expressions such as music, painting, sculpture, dance and drama.

India, the Mother of Puppetry

Anupama Hoskere, a puppeteer from India on her visit to Prague, Czechoslovakia, found the Czechoslovakians holding India as the motherland of puppetry. She came across Czechoslovakian texts for puppetry which opened with the line that India is the mother of puppetry.

Types of Puppet

There are Puppets unique to different parts of this country.

There are 4 different types of Puppet.

    1. Glove Puppets
    1. Rod Puppets
    1. Shadow Puppets
  1. String Puppets

Glove Puppets

Glove Puppets are worn on hands, where the middle finger and thumb acts as hands of the puppet, while the index finger acts as the head.  These are small figures with head and arms on a skirt as its dress. They are also known as Hand Puppets.

Glove puppets are popular in the in the states of Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.

States Name of the Puppet



Pava Kathakali  1
West Bengal

Bener Putul


Rod Puppets

Rod puppets are an extension of glove-puppets, but are much larger. They are supported and manipulated by rods from below. These puppets have mostly three joints. The heads, supported by the main rod, is joined at the neck and both hands attached to rods are joined at the shoulders. The main holding rod that supports the puppet is behind a robe or costume of the puppet. The action rods are connected to the hands of the puppet and manipulated by the puppeteer to show action.

This kind of Puppets are popular in Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa.

States Name of the Puppet





West Bengal

Patul Nautch



Kathi Kandi

Shadow Puppets

Shadow Puppets are flat puppets that are operated against a rear of a rightly stretched white cloth screen. They are made out of a leather, treated to make it translucent.

The Shadow Puppets are popular in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.

States Name of Puppet


Andhra Pradesh

Tholu Bommalata  5


Togalu Gombeyata






Chamadyache Bahulya

Tamil Nadu



String Puppets

It is the most common Puppetry in India. They are made of wood, or wire, or cloth stuffed with cotton, rags or saw dust.

The Puppet is suspended from a hand held control strings that are attached to different parts of the Puppet’s body. The Puppet is manipulated by operating the control as well as by loosening or pulling the relevant strings.


Name of Puppet



Kathaputli  9







Tamil Nadu




Putul Nach


Kalasutri Bahulya



Nool Pavakoothu


Andhra Pradesh




Laithibi Jagoi



Krishna is known by the name Sutradhar, the person who controls the string which controls all creatures. Sut meaning string. This simile suggests that puppetry and controlling through string was prevalent during Krishna’s times. The concept of Puppetry existed in this land for atleast 5100 years back, as we have been able to date Krishna’s birth year to 3112 BCE, in our book, Historical Krishna.


In Bhagavad Gita, Verse 7, Ch-7, Krishna identifies Himself with the Universal Divine String, and all the creatures to beads on string.

The relevant sloka being,

मत्त: परतरं नान्यत्किञ्चिदस्ति धनञ्जय |
मयि सर्वमिदं प्रोतं सूत्रे मणिगणा इव || 7||

matta paratara nānyat kiñchid asti dhanañjaya
mayi sarvam ida
prota sūtre mai-gaā iva

There is nothing higher than Myself, O Arjun. Everything rests in me, as beads strung on a thread.

World Puppetry Day

In this sense, the whole Creation is a Puppet Play of the Divine Puppeteer. World Puppetry Day is observed every year on March 21st, to celebrate Puppetry, where man is the Creator, who manipulates his creatures, the Puppets.


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