Pandwani is a folk ballad form performed predominantly in Bihar and Chhattisgarh. It depicts the story of the Pandavas, the leading characters in the epic Mahabharata. It is narrated in a very lively form, almost constructing the scenes in the minds of the audience. Traditionally a male preserve, it has seen the inclusion of women artist in recent times.
The artists in the Pandwani narration consist of a lead artist and some supporting singers and musicians. The lead artist narrates one episode after another from the epic in a very forceful manner. He enacts the characters in the scenes to produce a more realistic effect. Occasionally, he also breaks out into a dance movement. During the performance he sings along the rhythm produced by the ektara held in his hand.
There are two styles of narration in Pandwani; Vedamati and Kapalik. In the Vedamati style the lead artist narrates in a simple manner by sitting on the floor throughout the performance. The Kaplik style is livelier, where the narrator actually enacts the scenes and characters.