The khol also known as a mridanga (Sanskrit: lit. "mrit+anga" = "clay limb; not to be confused with mridangam) is a terracotta two-sided drum used in northern and eastern India for accompaniment with devotional music (bhakti). It originates from the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Manipur. The drum is played with palms and fingers of both hands.
Mridanga Bayan or Khol
The Khol is regarded as resembling to the ancient Gopuchha shape of drums, as described in Natya Shastra. The right face of the drum has a high pitch and produces a metallic sound, whereas the left face, produces a lower bass sound.
The khol is a drum with a hollow earthen body, with drumheads at both ends, one far smaller than the other. The drumheads are made of cow or goat skin, and are three-layered and treated with a circle of rice paste, glue, and iron known as syahi. Some modern instruments are made with a fibreglass body and synthetic drumheads.
There are so many histories about its origin. Different types of Khol are available in north eastern India. Odisha, Manipur, Bengal and Assamese Khol are commonly found in different forms. The wooden khol was made into terracotta by the Assamese polymath Sankardev.
The Khol is considered an integral part of the Ek Saran Naam Dharma culture and is used in Bhaona, Gayan-Bayan, Prasanga-kirtan and Borgeets. Assamese polymath Sankardeva is known to have adapted and evolved the tradition of Gayan-Bayan by using musical instruments like the khol and Taal. According to Assamese Neo-Vaishnavites, playing the khol is regarded as a holy activity and it is also considered to be one of the most important traditional percussion instruments. It is also a key musical instrument that accompanies a Sattriya performance.
The instrument is used in every visnu (Jagannath, Radha Krishna) temple in odisha during arati time. The drum is used to accompany Odia, Bengali kirtans by medieval poets like Chandidas, Govindadasa and Gyanadas. It is also used to accompany Gaudiya Nritya, one of the nine Indian classical dances (as recognized by Ministry of Culture, and not recognized by Sangeet Natak Akademi).
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