Ravan Chhaya Natya Sansada
-An institution of shadow puppet theatre


The people who have contributed a lot to keep the rare traditional art i.e. Ravan Chhaya alive are Guru Kathinanda Das, Guru Kolha Charan Sahoo, Sj. Dhirendranath Pattanaik and Guru Khageswar Pradhan.


The traditional performers of Ravan Chhaya were from the community of bhatas who received the patronage of the local Rajas of Pallahara in shape of land grant. It was Guru Kathinanda Das, the worthy son of Basudev Das who had brought this art to the court of Pallahra Raja and thus to the educated onlookers. Actually, Kathinanda Das was commonly known as Kathi guni. Guni is a sort of colloquial epithet meaning ‘ a magician ‘.This may suggest that people regard Ravan chhaya as magic. When he was discovered by the documentation unit of central Sangeet Natak Akadeami headed by Mr. Jiwan Pani, he was about 70.Guru Kathinanda Das had presented a number of programmes all over the country during the 1980’s. The outstanding performances among them were the show presented at Vishuba Bhawan, Cuttack, the second National puppet festival organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi at Bangalore from 5-7 November 1978, the International Trade fair and programmes performed in ten districts of Odisha .The programme performed at the 2nd National puppet festival brought him success and he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi award , which he received from the then president of the Indian Republic Sj. Nilam Sanjeeb Reddy in 1978. In March 1986 Guru kathinanda passed away. Not a single member of his family was left to carry the rare traditional art forward.

Great souls take birth in the world to bring out a great change in the present tradition and usher a new era of their own. The great soul who had brought out a great change in Ravan Chhaya of Odisha was none other than Guru Kolha Charan Sahoo, who was chosen by Guru kathinanda Das from other community sensing the apathy of his community towards Ravan Chhaya. He was born on 11 January 1936 in Odash in the district of Angul. He was attracted towards this art from his early childhood coming in touch with Guru Kathinanda Das. In course of time he became guru of the art after the sad demise of Guru Kathinanda Das. For his contribution to the rare traditional art he was awarded Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1997 and Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1998. He had written a book titled ‘Ravan chhayara Utpati Sthiti o vikash which was later translated into English .He was also awarded Senior Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture in 2000.

In the post independent period, Sj. Dhirendranath Pattanaik ,a renowned name in the field of Performing Arts and culture and whose effort was really commendable in familiarizing the Odishan art and culture inside and outside India had also come in contact with Ravan Chhaya. When he was the secretary of Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, a training cum workshop was organized In Jayadev Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Bhubaneswar to bring changes in puppet designing and making , manipulation of puppets and music as a part of renovation and preservation .He had arranged Ravan chhaya to be performed in ten district headquarters of Odisha in 1982.It was his valuable advice which took Ravan Chhaya to the foreign countries like South Korea, Malayasia and Reunion Island (France). He was the coordinator of Ravan chhaya training prograame organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi at Odash in 2002 and 2007 .

Khageswar Pradhan was born in 1939 in Odash. He began his career in Ravan Chhaya under the guidance of Guru Kathinanda Das, who had bagged central Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1978 for Ravan Chhaya. He has performed all over the country and abroad in Reunion Island (France ) as well as imparting training to younger performers in Ravan Chhaya. After the sad demise of Guru Kolha Charan Sahoo, the pioneer guru of Ravan Chhaya on 27 January 2006, he has become the Guru and director of Ravan Chhaya Natya Sansada. He is an active participant in the National Puppet festivals organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1978,1995,2011 and 2014 , the puppet theatre workshop of CCRT, New Delhi in 1997 , Workshop of Dadi D. Podumjee in 2011and workshop of IGNCA, New Delhi in 2013.He has headed the group in the Ishara International Puppet Festival organized by Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust, New Delhi in association with SNA, New Delhi in 2013 and Gandhi Jayanti Ahimsa Programme and TAM TAM International Puppet festival in Reunion Island ( France ) in 2013 organized by Indian Council for Cultural Relations , New Delhi. The other important festivals participated are the Akhyan event- 2010 by IGNCA, New Delhi and the Ramayan Festival-2009 organized by Adishakti laboratory for Theatre Art Research, Pondicherry. More ever, he has been a recipient of TATA fellowship during 2012-2013. He has been the guru and President of Ravan Chhaya Natya Sansada since 25 February 2006. Guru Sri Pradhan has bagged prestigious Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for the year 2015 on 11 April 2016.