Harikatha as an art form can be traced back to the Ramayana days. Lava and Kusha had sung the story of Ramayana in the Ashwamedha Maha Mandapam in the presence of Lord Rama Himself. The first Harikatha singer was Narada. Harikatha flourished in Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu. Yakshagana, Burrakatha, Kathakali of Kerala were all adapted from the style of Harikatha. It is different from Pravachanam or Upanyasam or the music concert.
Harikatha involves narration of a story intermingling songs relating to the story. It involves numerous sub plots and anecdotes. The main story teller is assisted by a co-singer, a violin and a mridangam. A pair of cymbals keeps the beat. Kalyanapuram Aravamudhachar, exponent in the field rightly describes it as one-person theatre. The exponent has to dramatise and his narration should make the listener visualise the anecdote. Samartha Ramadas, the guru of Chatrapathi Shivaji, introduced this art form in the 17th century. He prescribes the qualification for the Harikatha exponent thus: knowledge of Sanskrit, erudition in Vedas, sastras and puranas, narrative skill, memory power and clarity. He has to be an ashtaavadhani. Kalyanapuram Swami traces the roots of Harikatha to Thanjavur, the cultural capital of South India. Swati Tirunal composed Harikatha Nirupana of Kuchelopakyanam after hearing Harikatha from Kirtankar Meru Swami of Thanjavur....Read more
Source web page: The hindu