Padhant is the process of reciting syllables bound by a rhythmic time cycle. In Kathak dance, when the choreographer performs his solo dance, then the song which is going to be performed first has to be recited to the tune so that the audience knows that the piece is correct on the basis of the rhythmic time cycle (Taal).

Along with this, there is another benefit. The audience listens to the syllables before the performance, which creates a framework in their brains. This way they can appreciate the bandish in its entirety. 

On the other hand, after Padhant, the dancer and their accompanying instrumentalists are also well-versed with the bandish. 

Padhant is an ancient and important part of performing arts, where the audience and the Kathak artist understand and enjoy equally. 

Students of Kathak should practice good Padhant separately, apart from their training period. This is because Padhant has a profound effect on the audience. At the same time, the dancers themselves gain command over rhythm. 

Each time cycle has many divisions, some of “Taali”, some of “Khaali”. There are many forms of presenting Taali and Khaali, however the simplest and most useful way of doing so, can be described through the following example: 

Teen Taal - a time cycle of 16 beats, with 4 divisions. 

There are three “taali” (claps), and one “khaali” (no sound). Hence, when one recites the syllables of this time cycle, use the left hand as the base and clap by using the right hand on the left. The recitation of syllables in the first division are as follows -

1. Recite the first syllable “dha”. This shows the establishment of the first beat, aka the “Sam” (home). 

2. Now that the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th beats are in the first division, recite the second syllable - “Dhin” while placing the index finger of the right hand on the palm of the left hand. 

3. Similarly, while reciting the third syllable “Dhin”, place the middle finger of the right hand on the palm of the left hand. 

4. On reciting the fourth syllable “Dha”, place the ring finger of the right hand on the palm of the left hand. 

For the second division, and fourth division - repeat the process as described for the first division. Now, for the third division, which is the “Khaali”, the process is described in the following points -

1. Separate the right hand from the left clearly. While reciting the first syllable in this division “Dha”, place your thumb on the index finger.

2. Repeat “Step 1” in the order of index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and little finger while reciting the rest of the syllables in sequence.

3. If possible, move the wrist while indicating “Khaali”.

Through this process, one masters the art of Padhant on the basis of a rhythmic time cycle with their hands and fingers. Follow this process and apply it to other rhythmic cycles as well.

Kathak is the most mesmerizing dance form woven around the concept of storytelling. 

Click here to know more about the different concepts related to charming dance mudras, and footwork such as Pandit Birju Maharaj & Online Kathak Dance Classes.


Q. What is the procedure to do Padhant?
Ans. There are some key points to be considered carefully while doing Padhant. While there are many ways to do Padhant, the simplest and most ideal way is as follows - When you recite the syllables of any time cycle, use the left hand as the base and clap by using the right hand on the left. Similarly, to show ‘Khaali’, take the right hand away from the left and count on the finger-tips of the right hand. The recitation of syllables requires voice modulation. Make sure you’re not too soft nor too loud. Your voice requires expression as well, which is why your Padhant should not be one-toned. Padhant recitation, in some ways, is story-recitation - since Kathak is a dance of story-tellers. Another important aspect in Padhant is to recite according to the rules and speed of the Taal. You need to listen to the beats carefully and recite your ‘bol’ on the basis of the speed. The divisions signify when to produce ‘Taali’ and ‘Khaali’ too. Once you gain control over these three main points individually, you can practice Padhant by combining all three of them together.
Q. What is Bol?
Ans. A ‘bol’ is any syllable that expresses the nature of the bandish. A ‘bol’ is also an integral part of Padhant and Vaachik Abhinaya because it forms the base of all pieces. Examples of bols include - ‘Kuku’ i.e. the sound of a bird, ‘Dhumakita’ i.e. the sound of Pakhawaj, ‘Jhijhikata’ i.e. used in kavit to show coyness and shyness, etc.
Q. What is Taali?
Ans. A ‘taali’ is when we use both our hands and bring them together to create a clapping sound. Most taals start on a taali.
Q. What is Khaali?
Ans. A ‘khaali’ is when we take our hands away from each other and count the beats on one hand. A ‘khaali’ usually signifies the end of a cycle.
Q. What is Padhant?
Ans. Padhant is the process of reciting different bols that are put together keeping the rules of rhythmic cycles in mind. One of the main characteristics of a good Padhant is clear enunciation of words and careful voice modulation. These aspects add more zeal to a performance, as well as make the performance more engaging.

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