Total population
Regions with significant populations
• India • Pakistan • Nepal • Bangladesh
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Bhānds (Devanagari: भांड; Urdu: بھانڈ, Gurmukhi: ਭੰਡ, Bengali: ভাঁড়) are the traditional folk entertainers of India, Pakistan,[1] Bangladesh, and Nepal. In India and Nepal, the Bahand are now an endogamous Muslim community, which is no longer involved in their traditional occupation of folk entertainment.[2] They include actors, dancers, minstrels, storytellers and impressionists.[3]

Payment for performances is usually voluntary: often, one performer goes around the audience collecting money on a "pay-what-you-can" basis while the others continue to perform.[3]

Bahand Pather of Kashmir

Bahand Pather

Bahand Pather is a bahand of the Kashmir region in which stories commemorating the lives of reshis (Sufi sages, both Hindus and Muslims) or more contemporary real or fictional figures are enacted. The storylines (or pathers) are often humorous and satirical, and farce is an essential component of the plays.[4]

Naqal of Punjab

Naqal (mimicry) is a strong bahand tradition in the Punjab region.[3] The naqalchi (mimic, sometimes called the bahrupiya) adopts the persona of a well-known person or character and improvises, using satire and farce extensively, to entertain the audience.[3]


  1. ^ Prentki, Tim; Breed, Ananda (2020). The Routledge Companion to Applied Performance: Volume Two – Brazil, West Africa, South and South East Asia, United Kingdom, and the Arab World. Routledge. p. 167. ISBN 9781000177077.
  2. ^ Manohar Laxman Varadpande (1987), History of Indian theatre, Abhinav Publications, 1992, ISBN 978-81-7017-278-9, ... The most popular of the medieval folk entertainers who still linger on the Indian scene are the Bhands. In Sanskrit Bhand means jester ... Bhands were patronised by the people and royalty alike ... small skits with extempore jokes, humour laced with social criticism ...
  3. ^ a b c d Don Rubin (2001), The world encyclopedia of contemporary theatre, Volume 3, Taylor & Francis, 2001, ISBN 978-0-415-26087-9, ... one actor goes around collecting money (pay-what-you-can) from the audience ... In the swang tradition is the naqal of Punjab: farcical in nature, it relies heavily on improvisation by the naqalchi ... The bhands are itinerant clowns. It is a centuries-old tradition in the villages, and very popular at marriages. It may be a solo performance, or a troupe may have two or three people. Dressed in rustic clothes ...
  4. ^ Peter J. Claus; Sarah Diamond; Margaret Ann Mills (2003), South Asian folklore: an encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taylor & Francis, 2003, ISBN 978-0-415-93919-5, ... At the heart of the form, though, is the broad, farcical playing of the maskharas, or clowns ...