Ektara (ek, one + tara, string) a one-stringed musical instrument commonly played by folk singers, bauls, and fakirs (Muslim devotees). The body of the ektara is made from the shell of a bottle gourd, wood apple, coconut etc. The instrument is given different names according to the material of which it is made. The lau, for example, is made from the bottle gourd. A famous Baul song refers to this in 'sadher lau banaila more vairagi' (My dear bottle-gourd turned me into a Vaishvava). However, the body may also be made of wood or brass.
Ektaras made of wood-apple shell or coconut shell are comparatively smaller in size. The bowl of the instrument is covered with skin and fixed to a prepared bamboo, approximately three feet long which has been split into four at one end. Two strips of bamboo are carefully cut away and the bowl fixed between the remaining strips. The string, which is usually made of steel, is attached to the bottom of the bowl and then to the wooden knob, called kan (ear), at the other end. The string is tightened or loosened by turning the knob.
The ektara may be held in the right hand and played with the right forefinger. Bauls usually hold the ektara close to the ear and strum upon it while singing. The vina is believed to have developed from the ektara. [Wakil Ahmed]