Yampuri is a puppet show of Bihar. This art form had its origin in Uttar Pradesh and later shifted to Bihar. The few groups, that practice this rare art, travel to the neighboring states of West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh to perform the shows at various fairs.
The language used in the puppet show is Hindi. A wheeled platform of about three feet high serves as the stage for the show. The puppeteers and the musicians position themselves in a series of shallow trenches near the stage. A series of curtains provide the necessary background for the various scenes. The puppets are attached to rods and are manipulated using strings.
The scenes revolve around ‘Yampuri,’ the house of death. It involves Yama (the God of death), his messenger and Chitragupta (the record-keeper of the deeds of a person). Other characters include Vidushak (the clown), Sage Narada, the narrator and the dead people who come in front of the lord to receive punishment for the wrong actions they have done during their life time.
Depending on their deeds, the people are sent either to the heaven or to hell. The people going towards the heaven are shown crossing the divine river Vaitarani, holding the tail of a cow. The songs, that are rendered, are dedicated to Lord Ganesh and Goddess Saraswati.
This play is meant to instill fear in people’s mind regarding the evil deeds, which will ultimately lead one’s soul to hell.