Traditional glove puppet theatre from Tamil Nadu in south-east India. The pava koothu “dance” or “puppet show” represents the victory dance of the goddess Lakshmi after destroying the demons.

The puppets, small in size and made from rice straw and paper, which had all but disappeared half a century ago, are being brought back to life thanks to the efforts of a few Tamil intellectuals. Manipulation is very simple, consisting of head movements and hands clapping in time to the musical accompaniment and melodious song supported by small cymbals and uduki (drum). The puppeteers sit on the ground in a small, enclosed space they set up with bamboo poles and fabric. A show requires three or four musicians, who sing forth the divine tale in the Tamil language. Pava koothu performances take place during religious festivals.

(See India, Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for Puppetry.)