Pandvani is one of the most celebrated  performative genres from Chhattisgarh. In recent years its popularity outside this region owes much to the lauded performer Teejan Bai. Known mostly as a regional/ folk version of the Mahabharata, its terms of relationship with the Sanskrit epic are little known. A series of modules on this genre from Chhatttisgarh excavate this relationship and charter the course of its narratives.

 

Before it became a professional performative genre, the Pandvani consisted of different forms of oral lore in circulation in this region. Initially there were lores that belonged to the Gond adivasis of this region. They sang of Bheem as a Gond hero who played the bana and brought rain. This narrative belongs to the pre-history of the Mahabharata and may well have fed into it. Later, there were episodes from the epic that travelled and were transmitted, mostly amongst ‘lower caste’ communities from this region, becoming part of bardic narratives. The Vasudevas and Satnamis, amongst other communities from this region, regularly narrated episodes from the epic in versions that reflect  regional adaptation.

 

Following trends in other narrative genres from this region, the Pandvani came to be performed as a professional performative genre in this region. The trajectory of this transformation follows the lead of several remarkable individual performers. While Jhaduram Devangan occupies an iconic status in this region, and is credited with suturing the narrative together, there were other legendary performers of the Pandavani whose roles are slowly fading from public memory. The modules attempt to piece together stories of and in the Pandavani.

 

This series of modules presents the recitation of the Pandvani by Prabha Yadav. The recitation presents all the eighteen parv of the epic based on the version compiled by Sabal Singh Chauhan, an author whose text was in circulation in this region. Prabha Yadav is a noted performer of the Pandvani, and represents what has come to be seen as Jhaduram Devangan’s style of rendition. A conversation with Prabha Yadav traces her journey as a Pandvani artist. 

 

The parv presented in this module is the Adi Parv. The prasang contained in this parv are Sumarni, Utpatti, Kaurav - Pandav baal charit, Gandhari- Kunti Shiv pujan, Bhimsen Paataal vijay, Lakshagraha, Hidimba vadh, Bakasura vadh, Draupadi swayamvara, Arjun van-gaman, Subhadra haran, Khandav van dahan, Arjun Hanuman milan. 

 

This content has been created as part of a project commissioned by the Directorate of Culture and archaeology, Government of Chhattisgarh to document the cultural and natural heritage of the state of Chhattisgarh.